I think I can speak for all parents when I say: OMG, this year!
Nothing has been easy about parenting in a pandemic, and things are about to get even harder. Welcome to back-to-school season 2020, where every decision is fraught with more stress than any of us ever imagined was possible.
Is it safe to send the kids to school? If so, what will school look like in our new normal? How will I continue to juggle work if they’re home for part of the time? How will I juggle work if they’re home all of the time? Would I be more comfortable homeschooling them right now? But how will that work with actual work so we can, you know, keep paying our bills? And is homeschooling damaging for them in other ways?
So many questions…and no good answers. All that said, one thing is certain: Kids are going back to school in some way, whether it’s in person, remote, or some combination of the two. That means they need school stuff—and we need a plan. That’s actually something we can start preparing for, and it not only gives us something concrete to focus on, but it will also put us in a good place for whatever the world throws our way in the next few weeks.
All of this will require some smart shopping and serious organizing. If your kids are heading to physical classrooms, you’ll need a slew of new essentials, like masks, hand sanitizer, lunchboxes (so they can eat at their desks), and backpacks that can safely tote laptops or iPads. If your kids are opting for remote instruction, they’ll need a mini school setup in your house and everything that comes with it. And chances are, so will the in-person learners, since schools will likely have to shut down sporadically due to outbreaks or cautionary quarantines.
Post-it® Products will come in super handy in either case—and not just for kids. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I would be lost without my Post-it® Notes, and I am on the days I don’t use them. They help me organize my life and keep me on track with my to-do lists. And there’s nothing like the feeling of crossing something off a physical list; it’s so much better than deleting it on your phone’s Notes section, where it’s so easy to ignore anyway.
But back to the kids! Post-its are super affordable and can help in a variety of ways. Kids can jot down reminders and random ideas onto Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, sticking them on a board to see them at a glance, or adding tabs and flags to color-code assignments and tasks or find important info fast.
I’m also somewhat obsessed with the Post-it® Weekly Planner, which keeps schedules organized and gives you the flexibility to move around to-do lists, assignments, activities, days in school, and whatever else when things change—because you know things are going to change this year. The Super Sticky Notes are, well, super sticky, so they stick and restick, no matter how many times you have to move things around.
Once you have all your supplies, you’ll need to keep them organized so your dining-room table doesn’t look like it needs to be cordoned off with yellow police tape. Stock up on folders, pencil holders, and movable storage drawers (which you can wheel into a corner when you don’t need it). You can even pack everything away into a backpack specifically for home use. Just note that you’ll want to keep your child’s actual school backpack in the mudroom or other separate space so germs don’t make their way through your house. And while we’re on the topic, purge and declutter regularly.
Beyond that, have a plan—for homework and for school work during school hours. Kids thrive on consistency, and let’s be honest, it’s a heckuva lot easier to plan your own work schedule once theirs is set. That said, also know when to throw that schedule out the window. That was probably the biggest lesson I learned in the spring. Sure, I had my ideal day all planned out ahead of time, but it didn’t do me much good when the kids were having a rough day. In the end, on those particularly tricky days, we fared much better (and there was much less yelling) when I kept the larger framework in mind but followed their lead.
And let’s not forget fun. Yes, fun! In this post-pandemic world, fun is actually easy to forget. Schedule it in every day so both you and the kids get a much-needed break and some much-needed bonding time. Ideally, it should involve some physical activity, like a socially distanced walk around the neighborhood, a basketball game in the driveway, or some time on the trampoline (we finally got one!). But it could also definitely mean a board-game competition, a regular movie night (a weekly tradition for us now), or baking together for a little stress relief.
Because let’s be honest, we’re all going to need more than a little stress relief this year. And hey, cookies are always a good idea!