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Back-to-School Cool

Keep it chill with our family cheat sheet for a successful return to school

Author Kari Hanson

Published on: July 29, 2022

Young girl holding yellow notebook and wearing a backpack

Our kiddos return to school every year in the fall. So, why does it seem like this annual scramble never gets any easier? From scarfing three (four?) squares a day to punching the (circadian) clock, forthwith are some of ParentMap’s best tried-and-true tips for getting off on the right foot. Ready, set, breathe.

Managing mealtime madness: Short-order cooking for busy weekdays

  • Breakfast: Make that first meal of the day quick and toothsome with easy, protein-packed recipes that will be sure to give your kids the fuel they need to survive until lunchtime. 
  • Lunch: Find fresh ideas for the (sad-)sack lunch at Pro tip: Get your kids involved in the process! They will be far more likely to gobble up food that they helped prepare.
  • The third (and possibly most important) meal of the day: The art of the after-school snack should be an Olympic-medaling event. We gotchoo! Round out pick-me-ups for your peckish posse with can’t-miss ideas for easy twists on classics and kid-approved homemade takes on healthy after-school snacks.
  • Dinner (of the desperate): After a long day of school and work, preparing a crew-pleasing dinner is sometimes the last thing we want to tackle. Dazzle your fam with one of the foolproof picks from our roundup of decidedly delicious sheet-pan dinner recipes — everything bakes in just one pan!

What time is it?

All of our routines have to change when it’s time for the kids to go back to school. Let’s consult the experts.

Wrangling the morning routine: If you don’t get them up and going, who will? We’ve got expert tips for how to turn a bad morning around as well as game-changing strategies from an organizing and productivity expert for making a routine of your school-day deployments.

Remind me, what is bedtime? Getting kids to bed at a reasonable hour (argh, why does it have to stay light so late?) can be tough after a lawless summer break. To help your family get enough z’s, find excellent tips and tricks for establishing consistent bedtime routines as well as sleep hygiene how-tos (from sleep medicine docs at Seattle Children’s Hospital, no less).

Social studies

No matter your kid’s age, a return to school dumps a certain amount of emotional weight on your doorstep.

Dealing with anxiety: New school? New teacher? Many kids experience anxiety and fear in response to all of the unknowns of a dawning school year. Luckily, ParentMap is always your best source for great advice from our region’s top docs when it comes to helping kids and teens — and their parents — deal with profound situational anxiety.

The (IRL) social network: Forging new friendships can be the most rewarding developmental aspect of school, but many children find navigating social interactions with peers to be extremely overwhelming. Discover strategies to support your kids as they learn to make — and keep — friends.

Oh, snap! Back-to-school rituals and traditions are calming and important, especially in these anxious times. Mark the occasion with the proper pomp and circumstance. Sharpen up a fragrant bouquet of new Ticonderoga pencils (that smell …) and commemorate your kid’s fab first day with a unique first-day-of-school portrait (we’ve got ideas).

Need more inspiration? Find 50 more expert tips for rocking the BTS transition

August is a great month to …

Wring out as much fun as you can from this month of bonniest Pacific Northwest weather! (For dozens of other ideas, peep our August Play List and our road-tested bucket list o’ summer fun.)

  • Catch a meteor shower. Don’t miss the spectacular Perseids meteor shower, which peaks Aug. 12–13 this year. Join a viewing party or simply plop down on a blanket and look up. It’s sure to be a night your family will remember. 
  • Depart on a day trip. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer vacation by getting away for the day — while you still can! Fun awaits, no hotel reservations required. 
  • Take a dip. If you are still looking for a chance to brave the Puget Sound area’s chilly waters, August is a great time to take the plunge. 
  • Enjoy an outdoor concert. Rock out with your kids while enjoying the warm weather! 
  • Recharge. Summer is fun, but scheduling the camps, weekend adventures and constant playdates can be exhausting. Time to head to a local spa to congratulate yourself on a job well done. Take a deep breath before diving into the school year.

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