Okay, the start of the new school year really isn’t far away now, and since the old school year ended you are likely to have experienced a complete change in family routine. Starting to plan ahead now will make the transition back to school smoother for both your child and you as a working parent.
As a parent you are going to want to ensure that your child is happy, safe and secure in their surroundings, and being properly looked after. You should ensure that day to day planning essentials are covered to avoid unnecessary stresses when school starts again.
These ‘back to school tips for working parents’ are only my personal feelings as a full time working parent of four, but they are designed to keep your children well looked after, your employer happy, and you sane.
This has to be one of the most important of items to organise early; a last minute dash is going to raise stress levels for everyone and can prove expensive as all the good offers will probably have gone.
Many supermarkets now produce school uniforms within their clothing departments that are really cost effective for young people growing fast; a lot offer home delivery too.
It is fashionable to have a back pack for a school bag, and that’s a great way for your child to carry a heavy bag comfortably.
Don’t get one too big though or your child will end up carrying lots of things they do not need; encourage them to organise themselves and pack the right books for the right day and reduce unnecessary carrying.
TRANSPORT TO AND FROM SCHOOL
Will you be driving your child to and from school? Can you share the driving with another parent in the same area? Will they catch the school bus? Do you need to arrange a bus pass? Where will your child go after school if you are working?
There is lots to consider and a robust battle plan is likely to be needed to cover all eventualities.
Will your child be eating packed lunches, lunch provided by the school, or a combination of the two?
If they will be having some packed lunches, do you need to purchase new lunch boxes or bottles?
IS THERE GOING TO BE AN AFTER-SCHOOL GAP?
Do you need to make any arrangements for the time between your child finishing school and you finishing work? Who will care for them? Do you need to book any places? What will they eat? Can they complete their homework to protect their evenings?
Get all of this under your belt, and you will feel prepared and relieved that you have taken care of your child’s welfare; a guaranteed recipe to help with your peace of mind.
Discuss the school day routine with your child; they have been off for several weeks and it is likely that their school term time routine is a distant memory for them.
Having established a routine with your child, make them feel a part of it, not a bi-product of it… start the routine a week before the first day back to school to get them used to it; make the first day back as smooth as possible for everyone concerned.
A strong home routine will give your child a feeling of security and help them deal with the changes they are about to face; especially if they are about to change schools.
DEVELOP GOOD HOMEWORK AND STUDY HABITS
If your child is going to secondary school remind them (or explain if it is their first year there) of the importance of the homework they are going to receive.
Establish a time and workspace for completing homework and integrate it into their day as part of the normal school day routine. This will help them to focus and remember lesson and homework schedules and avoid unnecessary stresses; a happy child makes for a happy parent.
ESTABLISH A SLEEP ROUTINE
Establish a strict bedtime routine and implement this the week before your child goes back to school too. Do not allow distractions such as TV, mobile phones, tablets or games to be used once your child is in bed.
You and your child both need a good night’s rest to keep you alert and healthy; if you struggle keeping your child off of electronic devices, perhaps consider limitations on wi-fi access after a certain time.
DO YOUR BEST AND DO NOT OVERDO IT
Your most important priority has to be not to feeling guilt for having to work. Do not feel guilty for leaving your child to go to work to provide for them, and do not feel guilty for enjoying the adult company it gives you.
Just as importantly, do not feel guilty when you have to leave your work at the end of your day when your family becomes your priority. It is crucial that you are able to focus your attention on whatever your priority is at any given time in order to make it the best quality time.
Let a retired grandparent accompany your child to their sports club; it will be a pleasure for them to spend some special time with their grandchild. It is a fact that children benefit from having different adult role models to relate to, bond with and learn from; and it frees up your time.
FOCUS ON QUALITY TIME
As a working parent, it is likely that there will always be too much to fit into any given day.
Make sure that you distinguish between the essential and the non-essential when you need to. But above all, make sure that your child never feels like the non-essential; never be too busy or too tired to be the best parent and best friend you can be to your child.
When you are at work, it is essential that you extend the same dedication to your employer.
CONSIDER REQUESTING FLEXIBLE WORKING
Work in a flexible working role (or request that your current role is considered for flexible working) that allows you to better juggle being a parent and an employee.
Flexible working is widespread in the workplace these days, and is the ideal solution for any working parent. It enables you to fulfil your obligations to your family and to your employer without fear of letting either party down.
‘REALLY’ TALK WITH YOUR CHILD DAILY
‘Really’ talking with your child means making time to take an interest in them; their life, their stories and experiences, their feelings and needs… pretty much everything that is important to them.
Being your child’s constant support system in life helps them trust you. It enables you to have a greater positive influence in their life while offering you reassurance that you are supporting them in whatever is important to them in life.
TRUST YOUR CHILD CARER
If you need to employ childcare outside of the family unit, take the time to find childcare you are confident that you trust.
Keep good communication with your childcare, keeping the child’s best interest the priority. This means communicating with your child to ensure that they are enjoying the experience and getting the most from it in your absence.
With peace of mind that your child is happy and prospering, you can be more productive while at work.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR EMPLOYER
The important thing here is to develop trust; if you are struggling with home situations whilst at work your employer will notice.
Keep your employer in the loop about your situation and they are far more likely to be sympathetic and do what they can to help you where they can. Remember though, communication is a two way street, and if you are expecting help and support in times of need, then it is far more likely to be offered if you have displayed the same dedication when required.