Summer just flew on by and now our patients are back in school! We know September and October tend to be chaotic for parents as you get into the swing of another year and balance your own schedule with everything your kids have on their plates. Well, have no fear because Innovative Pediatric Dentistry is to coming to the rescue! Being the super helpful Naperville pediatric dental practice we are, we’ve compiled our best back-to-school tips for busy moms and dads.
Get Some Last-Minute Shopping Done – If you did the bulk of your shopping in August to take advantage of the back-to-school sales, now’s the time to grab anything you missed while sales are wrapping up. Late September and early October are actually the best time to purchase fall clothing too since the peak prices are in August and the beginning of September. You’ll be able to score a few bargains on supplies during the tail-end of the back-to-school sales and find marked down clothing just as winter apparel is hitting the shelves. This way, your kiddo will have everything they need on-hand, eliminating the frantic store runs when they spring a project on you. Plus, you’ll save a few bucks.
Schedule Your Kids’ Appointments in Advance – Is your child due for a well visit at the pediatrician or a cleaning at their Naperville pediatric dentist? One of the most helpful back-to-school tips is to schedule appointments in the beginning of the school year before the even busier holiday rush sets in. This will allow you to put the visits in your calendar and plan around them. You’ll also be able to get the times that work best for you by calling early.
Really Embrace a Morning Routine – Kids thrive on routine, especially tiny tots. It can almost seem simpler to go with the flow but having a set morning routine for school days that you run through daily and sticking to it can make your life a whole lot easier. Real Simple has an awesome morning routine for school that actually starts the night before with kids picking out outfits for the next day, charging devices and packing bags, followed by streamlined steps from waking up to getting out the door. For younger kids, there are tons of printable routine charts that will give them visual cues.
Make a Command Center – There’s a reason command centers are on every list of back-to-school tips and parenting hacks. It’s because they work! Find space on your wall or a table in your entryway and make it the hub of the house. Put baskets, clips or bins for every family member where permission slips, school lunch menus, invitations and forms go. To really take it up a notch, consider having in and out piles. That way, at the end of the day, you can sign what needs to be signed and kids can grab it from the out pile as they leave in the morning. You’ll also want to include a chalkboard or dry erase board with information for the week and a printout of the schedule so the whole family is on the same page.
Create a File for the School Year – While the command center is perfect for urgent items, what about all of those past assignments, reference materials and other homework-related things? Tame the clutter by giving each child an area of the filing cabinet or a file box with alphabetical or color-coded files for each subject they have in school. When a graded assignment comes home or they have other non-urgent homework papers, ask them to file them in the appropriate file. They’ll be able to find things easier and you won’t have to deal with piles of paper everywhere.
Carve Out a Homework Station – Whether it’s a quiet corner of the family room or your child’s own bedroom, make a homework station by adding a desk, a chair and a basket or caddy with everything they could possibly need for homework, including a calculator, pens, pencils, paper, a charger for the laptop and anything else. This way, there’s never any excuse for not completing an assignment. Designating a space as the homework station also puts kids in the right mindframe when they sit down to get to work. It’s kind of like how you tend to be more productive in a home office than you are trying to get stuff done at the kitchen table.
Meal Prep – Embracing meal prep for school lunches and even breakfast is probably the biggest time saver of all of these back-to-school tips. Look around for healthy school lunch ideas and then on Sunday, make a week’s worth of lunches. Put together a protein-packed main entrée that will either stay fresh for several days or freezes well. A quiche with vegetables, pasta with meat or beans and a variety of different types of wraps all work well. Separate the entrée into portions in storage containers. Then, wash, peel and cut up fresh fruits and veggies and put them in containers too. Consider having a collection of mix-and-match items in areas of the fridge and pantry like nuts, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs and snacks. Every morning kids can grab an entrée, a container of fruits or veggies and a snack item to put in their lunch box. It’s a lot simpler than scrambling the night before or early in the morning getting lunches together. For breakfasts, muffins or pancakes freeze well or portion out ingredients for smoothies for the week.
Positive Reinforcement Helps! – All of the parenting hacks and tips in the world won’t do a thing if the kids aren’t willing participants. That’s where positive reinforcement comes in. If, for example, a child does their homework every night for a week without complaint, make a big deal out of it and tell them how proud you are. For younger kids, sticker charts are really beneficial. Whenever a child completes a task in their morning routine, ask them to put a sticker in the appropriate area. When they accumulate a certain number of stickers, encourage them with a reward. The reward could be anything from choosing a fun activity to do together (Learning Express has a calendar full of awesome, free Naperville kids’ activities) to picking the movie for family movie night.
We hope you can use a few of our back-to-school tips to make this the best school year yet. If helping your child have a healthy, bright smile this fall is also on the agenda, schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville. Book your appointment online or by calling us at (630) 848-7736. We make visits convenient to ensure they fit your busy schedule.