Contributed by Haley Burress
August and September bring new notebooks, sharpened pencils, a few jitters, and lots of excitement for the new school year. With the lazy days of summer behind you, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to get back on a daily schedule, especially if you are caring for a loved one or child with significant medical needs. The Lotsa Helping Hands Back to School Checklist will keep you on your toes and confident as your family eases into your new routine.
Get to know your teachers
While it can seem tempting to skip over the “meet the teacher” nights, our back to school checklist recommends that you attend functions before school starts. Your child’s teacher will be a teammate throughout the upcoming months, so it is best to get to know him sooner than later. If your child has medical issues or special needs, it can calm your child’s nerves (and yours!) to put a friendly face with a name. If you know that your schedule can get crazy due to caring for a loved one with medical needs, meeting your child’s teacher can be the start of a flexible and understanding relationship. Don’t wait until the first day of school – or until the first medical crisis of the year happens – before informing the teacher of your situation.
Make sure paperwork is updated and current
This point on our back to school checklist is one that is often overlooked. Before heading back to school, take an afternoon to be sure that all medical and contact paperwork for you, your children, and your loved ones are updated with correct information. Don’t forget to include any updated medical diagnoses or doctor information, current cell phone numbers, and who is permitted to pick up your child in case you are unable to.
Look for familiar faces
No back to school checklist is complete without reinforcing the troops. During before-school events and that crucial first week of school, look for familiar faces that are in your child’s class. Watch for family friends or people who you know from church or other clubs that are in your child’s class and who might be available to pick up or drop off if you are dealing with a crisis. If it is your child who has the medical needs, knowing that your child has a familiar face in her class can be a relief to her and to you.
Prepare meals a few weeks in advance
Our back to school checklist recognizes that the first month of school is going to be hard. Everyone in your family is getting used to their new routine and classroom. There are going to be nights when you are too exhausted to even think about dinner, let alone cook it. Before the first school bell rings, prepare meals in advance and toss them in the freezer. This way, when everyone is hungry, cranky, and too tired to cook, you can come to the rescue with a frozen home cooked meal without much thought or effort.
Sync your calendars
While you are planning your meals ahead, don’t forget to sit down and plan out your next month or so in your day planner and in your Lotsa Helping Hands community. Write down upcoming medical appointments and extracurricular activities so that you can see when you will need extra help or some respite. Once your calendar is loaded up, work through it day by day to see where there are conflicts or challenges, then ask your Lotsa Helping Hands community to fill those gaps.
Your back to school checklist looks a bit different when you are a caregiver, but you can manage the chaos through a little extra planning and a lot of extra help. Here’s to a successful and healthy school year!