The Back To School Survival Guide for Working Parents

All around the country there are parents counting down the days until their precious charges return to school, some with regret, some with great anticipation. The mostly miserable weather this summer means that our children have been under our feet just a tad more than is tolerable!

But while some parents look forward to some child free time when their little ones are in school, or at least, reduced numbers of children, for working parents it is a return to the juggle, and not always a welcome one.
The following are some tips the make my life a little easier, my morning less stressed, my evenings less fraught and helps minimise the guilt of not always being there with my children.

Night Before/Morning
• Be prepared. Have your work clothes/shoes/tights ect ready the night before.
•Make sure that kitchen/breakfast area is tidy when going to bed, empty the dishwasher and set table for breakfast.
•Have snacks prepared and in lunch boxes, mine won’t eat ‘crispy’ sandwiches so probably best to hold off on the main ingredient of lunch until morning. Have water bottles filled and in fridge.
•Get the children on board by getting them to have uniform/track suit ready before they go to bed.
•In winter months have coats left ready for morning, store hats and gloved in school bags so they are there if needed.
•Get up 30 minutes before you need to-this will totally change how your day pans out. To be able to have a quiet coffee before the noise/rush begins sets the tone for the day, try it and you’ll be converted.
• I try eat my main dinner at work, usually bringing whatever I have prepared for the children’s main meal with me. This means when I get home I’m not hungry or spending time having dinner that I could be spending with them, a snack after their bedtime is usually enough for me.
• I ask that the children’s homework is left on the hall table for checking. They are usually tired in the evening so asking them to root it out of bags doesn’t go down well.
•Allow enough time for bedtime. When I don’t collect the children from school, I imagine them running out of school and pouring out all the stories of the day, the reality is that the most frequent answer to ‘what happened today?’ is ‘nothing’.
However a few hours later, at bedtime, a lot of the days happening get told. Allow time for this as it gives you a window into their world and makes their school day seem less removed from you. It’s also the time that any reprimand from teacher get confessed or any rows with friends get told about. This time, more than any, helps me overcome the omnipresent working mums guilt so it’s not something I want rushed.
•Limit your evening chores to what really needs to be done…the rest can wait.
• Make sure lunchboxes are emptied, cleaned and put away straight after school.
•Ensure uniforms are put straight into washing machine so they are not lurking in bedrooms until Sunday night when panic sets in. I put them straight from washer into the dryer so that they are back in wardrobes before bedtime on Friday night. Worth.Every.Penny ( aimed at my dryer-adverse husband!)
•Batchcook…boring and predictable but so, so necessary. 2 hrs, uninterrupted, can easily result in dinners for the week and less work on those busy evenings.
•Delegate chores, mine are getting bigger now so Saturday morning chores are a thing in our house, no child labour but helping out in a busy family is an important life skill.
•ENJOY your time with them ( and without them) Weekends aren’t all about catching up. Make sure you do something nice each day you are off.
Aims for this year.
• Because I am often gone before the children get up, the hair situation is their Dad’s responsibly, this often leads to them going to school with unbrushed hair because my husband takes ‘free range parenting’ to a new level! To deal with this I’m aiming to plait the girls hair at night, add a little hair spray and hope this improves the situation ( am minimise the risk of unwelcome hair visitors!)
•Reading time before bed. Aswell as their bed time story I’m hoping to work on our leisure reading before bed, it’s great to wind down, encourage a love of reading and help with school reading. It’s unrealistic to think I’ll manage every night but am aiming for at least one night during week aswell as Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Hope some of this helps, and remember, just eight weeks until they are off again!!!

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