When you raise six kids, you know a thing or two about getting them ready for back-to-school time. P1 Group Proactive Solutions Consultant Ann Ligget is mom to a half dozen (and only one girl), ranging in age from 13-27.
When it comes to getting them back to school, Ann says organization, preplanning and a certain level of autonomy are key.
“Plan ahead,” Ann said. “Make lists. When there are back-to-school sales, over buy, because kids inevitably need something in the middle of the school year.”
Ann also recommends getting kids involved in the process both functionally and financially. “Give them the list and tell them what they need to get – then let them go get it. It gives them ownership and choice,” she said.
“We also limit what they can spend. If they want something more, they have to go earn the money for it mowing lawns or with a summer job. It helps them understand and respect the value of these items.”
Back-to-school prep also doubles as a fun family activity. “We all sit down together to make sure everyone has what they need, it’s all initialed, etc. It’s fun for them (chaotic for us!),” Ann said.
Ann was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years and home schooled her kids for a period of time, but after getting back into work force in 2011, she lets her kids know she has other responsibilities and everyone is expected to come together and do their fair share.
“I’ve done chore charts, menu planning, and making sure activities are on the calendar. You just have to find what works and stay consistent.”
These days, the demands of youth sports alone seem more like Olympic preparation than the simpler games many of us remember. Ann emphasizes the importance of not losing family time to the demands of extracurricular activities.
“Involvement in extra-curriculars is important because it keeps kids busy and engaged, giving them less time to sit around on their devices or social media,” she said.
“My recommendation is limit their activities,” she added. “One sport a season – you don’t want to lose your family time. Homework first – if that’s neglected, ability to participate in those activities is compromised.”
What’s the first thing Ann does when they’re actually back to school?
“Breathe,” she said.
“It’s a just a different type of chaos. There’s summer kids-at-home chaos, and back-to-school chaos,” Ann points out. “But you still have to recharge.”
At the end of the day, Ann says the most important thing is making sure you set aside time to sit down and talk to your kids.
“Have family dinners at the table. Talk one-on-one. Get to know their friends and friends’ parents.
“Make sure your kids know you’re there for them.”