Kids + Teens

Advice from a mom and daughter for a stress-free Back-to-School

Meredith and Sofie Jacobs, the mother-daughter co-authors of Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Mothers share their advice for getting ready for going back to school.

From Meredith:

This summer flew, but I’m trying to enjoy the last few weeks of lazy days and not having to pack lunches (I hate packing lunches). In addition to buying school supplies, I love to spend the weeks before school starts helping the kids get their rooms ready for the upcoming school year. We spend a weekend going through drawers and closets and shelves, throwing away broken toys, boxing up toys and books they’ve outgrown and marking them for donation or “to be saved for my children” (I made my parents save bags and bags of stuffed animals for when I had children and when the time came that I actually had children I thought, “There’s no way I’m letting my baby play with these old stuffed animals!”) But, for now, if you have storage space, let them pack the toys away for the next generation.

I love helping them clear out their rooms. There’s something about seeing tidy shelves and the actual tops of desks (with actual room to do homework). The newly decluttered space is calming. It helps your child feel like she’s ready to start the new year. And of course, while we’re cleaning, sometimes we can start talking about how they’re really feeling about the year ahead.

School is scary. Exciting? Absolutely. But also a little squishy feeling in your stomach scary. Will the teacher be nice? Will their friends from last year still be friends with them this year? Will there be new friends? Will they make the sports team or student council? Will the first day of school outfit be the right outfit? Will the schedule be too hard? Should they have read more over the summer? Where did they put the summer math packet? And what about the new braces or even more horrifying…the new bra!?!

So much stress.

So, along with the school supplies and the new clothes and the freshly organized space, there’s something else parents have to do to help our children get ready for school—find ways to talk to our children. Sometimes it’s hard for them to verbalize their concerns, so write notes (or better yet, keep a journal). In fact, the first several journal entries Sofie and I exchanged were about school (boys and friends). Maybe buy a journal (like Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Mothers ; )) and wrap it up with a couple of cute pens. Make it a present for the new year—something your daughter is now “old enough” to share with you. Start the year with strong communications (and a good breakfast!).

And here’s a little “back to school” tradition from our house. A special “back to school” bus cake. Bake a cake in a loaf pan. Cut the front to look like the front of a school bus. Frost with yellow frosting for the body of the bus and white frosting for windows. Use gel frosting pens to draw faces on ‘nilla wafer cookies and press them into the “windows”. Press mini-donuts on bottom of the “bus” as wheels. Serve as special dessert the night before the first day of school.)

From Sofie:

It’s frightening to think that by the end of this month, it’ll be the first day of school. Tests, sports, homework, extracurricular activities…it’ll all start sometime this month.

And with all the stress it’s easier to be a bit more…on edge. Even before the school year starts, just prepping for it can be exhausting and scary! So, blowing up at your mom for something you shouldn’t have yelled at her for can be a lot more frequent when all you can think is “OMG school starts in 27 days and I still haven’t started my Summer Reading List.” That’s why I’m so thankful for the journal that my mom and I keep right now. It’s a lot easier to apologize when it’s not in person, and also a way to talk things out without getting mad about them all over again.

It’s so helpful for during the school year, too. With all the homework you have, it’s hard enough to find time to sleep, let alone have a conversation with your mom! And even if you’re free, your mom might not have time to talk. But with a shared journal, you can write whatever you wanted to say to your mom right then, and she can reply to it when she’s free. And the quick, light prompts are a fun way to connect with your mom without having to actually think of something to say if you’re exhausted from a rough school day.

Have a great school year and hey, summer 2011 is only a year away. : )

Get Just Between Us and lots of other great books for Back to School at 30% off + FREE shipping now until August 22nd! Use promo code BACKTOSCHOOL.

Lara Starr
Marketing Manager, Children’s

Lara Starr

Lara Starr is Chronicle’s Senior Publicist for Children’s books, and the author of Wookiee Pies, Clone Scones and other Galactic Goodies, Ice Sabers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar™ Cookbook and Cookie Cutters Kit, and Chef Olivia™. Tell her you like her sweater and she’ll tell you exactly what she paid for it.
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