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Your Guide to Stress-Less School Days, Family Traditions

School starts today! How do you celebrate? How do you cope?

I can’t believe summer is officially over and school starts today. 

How many times have I wished for a quiet moment to actually think, and here I am with almost six hours until the school bell rings. I already miss my kids.

The first day I held my twins in the hospital, I thought of the day they would start school. I had no idea six years would fly by.

Last year, when they started kindergarten, we all felt equal parts excitement and nervousness. 

My daughter took the drop-off hard: the tears began and she held onto me so tight her teacher had to pull her off of me. Just watching us brought her twin brother to tears.

She made it through the day, but honestly the first week was a little rough.

With a new school year, it also feels like a chance to make a fresh start. With kindergarten under our belt, I have a few changes that will hopefully make that happen and keep me afloat until the holiday break

Stress Saving Tips

1) Have a place to hang backpacks, jackets and lunchboxes. When the kids get home from school, your house can go from looking presentable to looking like a tornado hit it, fast.  Have your kids put all the school essentials away before they can have a snack. It only takes a minute, and you will never have to pick up another strewn jacket.

2) Make a check-off list for your kids to complete. I can’t tell you how many times I asked my kids last year to put on their socks and brush their teeth before school. I felt like a broken record and I know they were tired of hearing of me by the end of the year. This year, I am posting a check off list on their door with their school clothes waiting for them that were picked out the night before, even socks and hair clips!

3) Designate a spot for new art work. Your kids are going to be bringing home a lot of it! Whether you pick up a pizza box or new plastic container, just pick a spot to save the art work you want to save, and label it with your kid's name and school year.

4) Post a calendar with important dates through the year. I put stickers if they have a dentist appointment, soccer practice or haircut to remind them. Put it at eye level for your kids, not you. (Believe me, I learned this one!)

5) Purchase a timer. Got it? Use it. It comes in handy when you've got five minutes to get out the door, or you want your kids to complete 25 minutes of homework (the recommended amount for first graders per the National Education Association). Read about my homework battles ; the timer is essential.

New Traditions

I decided a few fun traditions to start school would be a good idea and help to ease the stress a bit.

1) Have a special meal. We also have always have a special dinner to celebrate the first day, ice cream for dessert. Sonoma mon Sharon Johnston makes special pancakes her tradition: Her preschooler at a "P" shaped pancake, kindergarten was a “K," and her first grader will get a "1" this year.

2) Comemorate the day. One of our favorite back to school traditions (ok mine, not the kids) is our first day of school photo.
Renea Magnani, mom to two girls, likes to have them pose together on the first day, creating a scrapbook for each of them. "I'm looking forward to giving this to them when they graduate high school," she said.

3) Yes, get a treat. Kathy Lauchland-Ervin, mom to two girls, starts the school year off with a new outfit for the first day of school, and then takes them out for a special treat after school.

I am sure by this time next year I will have an entirely new list of essentials to help get through the next year. But parenting has taught that life is always about adjustments, learning how to adapt and letting go a little bit more each year.

Good luck to each of you that are on this journey again with your kids! I hope you all get off to a successful school-year start.

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