We all know that stress is bad for your health. It raises your blood pressure, it can give you anxiety, headaches, and interfere with your performance at work. Today I want to help you deal with one of the major stressors for families: Back-to-School. Right when we were just too comfortable with the summer vacation we realize that it’s almost time to go back to school. Already?! Pretty soon we will be back to early morning rush and homework evenings.
Because this is a stressful occasion people tend to procrastinate finding themselves later in crowded stores searching for last minute items. Here are a few ways I have developed to be more efficient and have more time left to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.
Order your school supplies in advance: I remember the year my twins started preschool. I was running like a headless chicken from store to store looking for last minute construction paper, glue sticks, nap mats and double of everything! That was on top of working full time in my clinic and seeing patients at the hospital…Ay, Ay, Ay! When I discovered that there is a company that delivers school supplies directly to the school, I knew I would be ordering from them every year for as long as my children are in school. At the beginning of summer, I take advantage of the dates when they offer free shipping and delivery to the school. It is a major stress reliever to know that with the click of a button your child will have all the supplies on the first day of school. If like me, you live in an area where there are services that deliver your school supplies you are done! If you have not yet done this, find out if there is such a service in your area or order materials online to be shipped in advance.
Get your children’s medical forms ready: Every year I take my kids to their pediatrician for a well-child checkup. That, and the winter flu shots are mandatory in our home. Being a physician, I know that close to the beginning of the new semester, parents will crowd doctor’s offices in order to fill school forms or get their kids vaccinated before school starts. One sure way of getting this done with less stress is to do it at the end of the school year. Before you go on vacation ask your school for the necessary forms and requirements. Make an appointment with the pediatrician and inform the staff that you need the forms signed by the doctor. Try to fill as much information before you give them to the office staff. It is an easier way to have all forms filled on your appointment day and your physician and staff will appreciate the heads up. You will be relieved when you don’t have a longer wait because the clinic schedule is overbooked. Your doctor and staff will also appreciate that you were diligent and brought the forms one or two months before everyone else.
Tackle the paper monster: We all know that kids bring a lot of paper from school, especially in the early elementary years. When you have more than one child, the mess grows exponentially. You need a strategy to deal with the paper monster, as I call it, in order to maintain your house (and life!) organized. I learned very early that every important piece of paper needs a dedicated place or it will be lost right before you leave for school in the morning.
As soon as your children get home and start taking stuff out from their backpacks, decide what needs to be signed and returned, what will be kept at home and what will be tossed. First, get anything that needs to be signed and returned to school. Sign it and put back in their school bag.
Art projects and crafts sent home are tricky because you obviously don’t want to hurt your child’s feelings however, how much macaroni art can a house hold? Involve your children in the decision of how long it will stay displayed and in the tossing process, if possible (I have to admit I have tossed more than they know, otherwise we would have to find a home only for paper).
Have a color-coded system to file their paperwork and quarterly awards. An accordion file for each child keeps everything in its place. Scan anything you want to keep and make a file for each child by grade, school year and month. The original can be discarded afterwards. Trust me, the paper pile will grow faster than you think. If you keep things organized you will have more peace of mind, less morning stress and running around. At the end of the year you should be able to purge what is left and decide what to keep.
Having a system before the kids start school makes it easier to beat some stress in your life and helps you enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Let me know what you think about these tips and please share your own ways to stay organized. See you next time!
Dr. Landrau is a Cardiologist, women’s health advocate, professional speaker, medical blogger and media expert. She inspires professional women to advance in their careers by teaching them to recognize their talents and voice their achievements. She helps women understand how to best use their skills and to manage their time efficiently. Her talks on empowering women help them regain confidence and to take the necessary steps to become leaders.
Dr. Landrau is available for speaking to corporations, groups and conferences.