It’s July, it’s summer vacation, and it is HOT! You may not have had a chance to escape to somewhere cool. If that’s the case, hopefully, an air-conditioned house without the hustle and bustle of the school year is providing a relaxing respite. At the moment, autumn seems far, far away. However, taking a little time now to do some early preparation will make the start of school and the following months a little less harried and more enjoyable. Here are five things you can do now, that will pay off come fall.
#1 Select your children’s activities carefully
Now is the time to think about what balanced family life looks like to you. Are your children active and need to be busy every day after school or are one or two afternoons enough? Is your daughter a soccer aficionado and does she want to play on a school team and a select team this fall? If so, how will you make the driving schedule work and get your son to the art class? Does your child need a tutor? SAT prep? Start researching now to get the best people and the best times for you. It’s easy once school starts to say “yes” to all sorts of activities and then find yourself in the car every afternoon without a moment of peace to relax or cook dinner. Think through now what will provide everyone with some much-needed downtime and then stick to your limit! A couple of other things to consider – what activities make your child’s inner soul sing? You may feel she needs tutoring in something, but balance out the “must-haves” with the activities that bring a smile to your child’s face and play to her strengths! Another consideration is your budget. Extracurriculars can be expensive, and when you have several per child with multiple children, you can start to feel like you’re paying an additional tuition. Create a budget as you plan so you don’t overdo.
#2 Get an early start shopping for school supplies
If you’ve been to Target in the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the school supply area is fully stocked. One trick to getting ahead is to go to your school’s website and find the supply list. Print it out and get your shopping done early! Not only will your child have her choice of patterns and prints….then that’s one thing crossed off your list. While you’re at it, pick up some poster board too. Who among us hasn’t had to run out at the spur of the moment at the most inconvenient time to pick up some?
#3 Evaluate your family calendar system
Is it working for you? There are so many options now…you just have to find what’s best for your family. Will a large whiteboard in the kitchen work, or is a paper calendar easier? Have you gone digital – iCal, Outlook, or Google? You may want to try a ‘smart’ calendar system that allows you to integrate all the details of your family’s activities into your calendar.
#4 Anticipate your family’s wardrobe needs
Start thinking about wardrobe needs for cooler weather. Will your son need new dress shoes? Does your daughter’s winter coat still fit? Have them try things on one afternoon and cull their closets. Make a list of what each family member needs and start shopping! Keep in mind the tax-free weekend in Texas is August 19th-21st. If you are buying a lot of clothes at once, wait until that weekend, get up early, and reap the benefits of planning ahead. Again, start early, and you’ll have your pick of colors and sizes. Remember to buy a little big and most important…..don’t forget to include yourself!
#5 Start teaching three life lessons for the rest of the year
Summer is a great time to reflect on where your kids are now and where you’d like them to be in the future. What lessons do you want to pass on to them? What do you want them to be able to do when you aren’t around? It can be as simple as wanting them to take their dinner plate to the sink every night or put their backpack by the door after they finish their homework. You may want to institute an allowance and help your child start understanding the concept of saving and giving. If they’re older, perhaps you want them to start figuring out the tip when you go out to eat or learn how to do their laundry. You don’t necessarily have to articulate the goal to your child. It’s your goal for them, something you feel is important for them to learn. Choose three things you want your child to learn before we ring in the new year and track it on your calendar. You’ll be amazed at how putting focus on a learning goal can pay off, and your children will love the time you spend teaching them. The attention they get from you alone will have a big impact on their lives and how they feel about themselves.
It doesn’t take too long to get yourself way ahead. Even if you just choose to do one of these things, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment once August hits. And while you’ve got some time on your hands, why don’t you buy some time for the future?
© Eleanor Munson, Ph.D. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Eleanor Munson, Ph.D. is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Munson, Ph.D. with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.