The end of summer break is one of the many paradoxes of parenthood. While we look forward to the season of family vacations, carefree kids and more relaxed routines, the dog days of summer can leave us counting the days until our restless children are back in school.

Whether the emotions you’re feeling about the end of summer can be described as glee, glum or a combination of both, the transition back to school can be a challenging time for parents and children. Here are eight tips to help working moms navigate the start of a new school year. 


1. Ease into school routines before the first day.

If late nights became the norm during the summer, transition to an earlier bedtime now — not the night before the first day of school. Once school starts, your child will have an easier time waking up in the morning.


2. Share the load by sharing a calendar.

Share a calendar with your spouse, partner or other primary caregiver that is populated with kids’ appointments, parent-teacher conferences and after-school activities. Making these commitments a shared responsibility with another trusted adult can ease some of the pressure on working moms.


3. Make time for yourself.

As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Decide what self-care looks like for you and make it a priority, even if it means hiring a babysitter or waking up a little earlier for some alone time.


4. Reduce decision fatigue by creating a meal plan.

By the time dinner rolls around, your brain is spent. Planning your family’s meals at the start of each week – or even the night before – not only helps you avoid the drive-thru, but also results in one fewer decision you have to make after a busy day. 


5. Pay attention to your child’s academic performance.

Between the increase in virtual learning over the past 2 1/2 years and routine summer learning loss, many children are struggling academically. Communicate with your child’s teacher about any challenges your child is facing and explore opportunities for improvement. This could involve after-school tutoring or in-school services that will give your child the support they need.


6. Build in time for play and relaxation.

While you want your child to excel academically, it is important to allow time for relaxation. Outdoor play, limited screen time and other less-taxing after-school activities could make the rest of the evening more tolerable for both children and parents after an intellectually stimulating day.


7. Prepare for potential interruptions due to COVID-19.

Although the days of statewide stay-at-home closures are (hopefully) in our rearview, the COVID-19 pandemic still rages on. Working moms should anticipate some disruptions to their child’s schedule due to isolation or quarantine resulting from the rise in positive cases. Be flexible, and have a contingency plan that you communicate with your employer or clients.


8. Schedule after-school care.

Parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers may not be accustomed to making arrangements for after-school care, as many child care facilities remain open until the end of the workday. Before your child enters kindergarten, check with your child care provider to see if they provide school pickup and after-school care for elementary children.


Ready or not, school will be back in session soon. The tips will help families ease back into a routine so that children are ready to learn and working moms can breathe a little easier.


Angela Duran is executive director of Excel by Eight, which is committed to increasing health and education outcomes for all Arkansas children from prenatal to age 8. She is also a mother of two who enjoys hiking, biking and yard work. 


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