As much as we enjoy long lazy days, camp activities, family vacations, and general fun in the sun, it is almost time to swap it all for the routine and responsibilities of the school year. Believe it or not, summer vacation is winding down, and back-to-school season is beginning in some areas and already in full swing in others! Keep reading for our back-to-school guide for single moms. 

Changes in routine can be challenging for kids and moms alike. So we are doing our part to help ease the transition by sharing tips to get everyone in the spirit, alleviate stress and make returning to school routines a snap! Preparing in advance, checking in at school before the first day, and making friends before the back-to-school frenzy begins are just a few things you can do to hit the ground running. Use this guide to make the back-to-school season stress free and fun. 

Back To School Guide For Single Moms

Make School Supplies Fun

Gone are the days of plain yellow no. 2 pencils, standard black and white composition books, and brown paper bags as book covers. School supplies these days are charming and cool! Try searching for your kids’ favorite colors or characters + the school supplies they need on Amazon. You might be amazed at the search results that will return from quickly inputting “unicorn school supplies” or “Spider-Man school supplies.” And you can get your kids in on the action, encouraging them to choose their favorites while you scroll poolside or from your favorite spot in the yard. 

Another fun way to involve the kids is to make a day of it! Our team has fond memories of school shopping trips with our parents, filling our carts to the brim with academic wonders. Places like Walmart and Target have had their back-to-school aisles ready for weeks, so you could start there. Need to get the most bang for your buck on a budget? Shop places like Five Below and The Dollar Tree that have fun options for a fraction of the price of other stores. 

Back To School On A Budget

And speaking of balling on a budget, there are a few ways you can cross off items from the back-to-school lists without spending a dime. Here are our favorites: 

  • School system back-to-school events – Many city or county school systems host events to welcome families back to the school year. It’s an opportunity for them to share available school resources, distribute information and help families get any advanced help they may need. The bonus? They often give out school supplies as door prizes, raffle prizes, or a “thank you” for attending the event. And since they have to cater to multiple grade levels, you’ll likely pick up a few supplies for more than one student in your family. 
  • Community backpack drives – Not-for-profit organizations, clubs, sororities, and fraternities usually host annual backpack drives for families in need in the communities and neighborhoods they serve. While some have specific stipulations, most are willing to help anyone who attends without judgment or prequalification. 
  • Amazon wish lists – An easy way to get your co-parent, family & friends involved in back-to-school prep is to create an Amazon wish list. They’re free to make and can be ‘shared’ to allow access for specific people or ‘public’ so that they’re searchable by anyone. You can add everything your children need to the list, plug in your address ahead of time, and share the list with your support system. Let them know they’re welcome to contribute if they’d like. You may be surprised at how quickly people will send an item or two to help! And it makes dividing and conquering with your kids’ other parent a breeze. It’s a simple point-and-click task for everyone, saving them the guesswork of figuring out what you need or how they can help.

Connect With Friends in Advance

We highly recommend connecting with school families before the first day of school. Having familiar faces that they can count on seeing will increase your kids’ confidence and help alleviate first-day jitters. You can check with neighbors in your community to see if their kids attend the same school, and you can pair your kid with a bus-riding or walking buddy. Even if all the kids aren’t in the same classes, yours will have someone to welcome them, wave at them in the hallways, or invite them to sit together at lunch.

If your family is new to the school, check the school calendar or PTA group for planned meet-ups like new family picnics or school-sponsored events and playdates. If you’ve already been with the school community for a year or more, now is a great time to reach out to kids from your children’s previous classes or parents you connected with during the last year. Set up a time to grab an ice cream, a movie, or meet at the playground for some unstructured play. 

Ask For Help

There is no back to school guide for single moms without talking about help. Consider what kind of help you need during the school year, and get your village involved early. 

  • Have you and your co-parent worked out a schedule for who will handle which responsibilities and when? 
  • Would it be helpful for your family to participate in a carpool share? 
  • Will you occasionally need someone other than your co-parent to pick your kids up or usher them to after-school activities? 
  • Will you need babysitters during parent-only meetings or school conferences?
  • Is it important to have someone meet your kids when they get off the bus and help them with snacks and homework until you get off work? 
  • Do you have emergency contacts to get sick kids who need to leave school early if you’re unable to leave work? 

Asking the people in your support system before you are in need shows respect for their schedules and allows them to plan to stand in the gap for you when you need it. 

Meet The Teacher

Every new year brings with it the opportunity to get to know a new teacher and for them to get to know your child and your family. Don’t hesitate to contact your children’s teachers before school or at the beginning of the year to introduce yourself. You can let them know about any unique personality traits your kids have or any special accommodations they need, tell them what the best method is for reaching you with information or emergencies during the school day, share details about food allergies or restrictions, and even ask about how they might handle any sensitive issues that arise. You and your child’s teacher are partners in their education for that year! Open the lines of communication early and often. 

Visit The Classroom

Most schools have an open house or back-to-school night event where families can peek at their kids’ classrooms for the upcoming year and meet teachers and administrators. Take advantage of this opportunity for your family to familiarize yourselves with your new surroundings for the next few months. If allowed, let your kids walk the routes they’ll take each day to special classes, lunch, or gym, and show them where they’ll get dropped off in the morning and picked up in the afternoon. If your school doesn’t offer an open-house opportunity, request a tour and a chance to meet the school staff. The more your kids know what to expect, the more at ease they’ll feel when they enter the school by themselves once school is in session. And you’ll feel more comfortable knowing their day-to-day routine when they are away from you and in the school’s care. 

Use this back to school guide for single moms to start the school year off right.Back To School Guide For Single Moms – What To Do At Home

Talk About Changes And Expectations

While changes in routine can be challenging, kids are better able to handle it when they know what to expect. Talk with them about how your days together, or time with their other parent, will change once the school year begins. Explain to them how their transportation to and from school will work or if there are changes in days or times for their extracurricular activities. Talk about what new clubs or sports teams they might want to join. Work with them on goal setting and how they’ll achieve their desired grades or excel in their studies. Discuss what will happen if they don’t meet your academic or behavioral expectations. Most of all, encourage them to share anything they are excited about experiencing or feeling nervous about. Knowing you’ll support them through the changes is enough to help them to be brave. 

Write Out The New Routine

Writing out the new routine for the school year on a wipe board, chalkboard, or paper calendar and hanging it where kids can see it works incredibly well for young children. Still, it can be a way to help everyone in the family transition into a new schedule and routine. It keeps everyone on the same page and helps to minimize miscommunication. And mapping things out can help reduce anxiety around remembering every school event, school holiday, doctor’s appointment, and activity. 

Start New Sleep Schedules

It’s a good idea to gradually ease into new sleep schedules before the night before school starts. About a week or two before school starts, send your kids to bed earlier, moving the time up a few minutes or half an hour every few days in the lead-up. Or practice setting your alarm clock and using it to wake your family up earlier and earlier each morning. Allowing your bodies and circadian rhythms time to adjust will likely decrease morning tears, tantrums, and power struggles when it’s “go time” for the new school year. 

Schedule Time For Yourself

Listen, Mama, while your kids may have been on summer vacation, you have likely still played camp counselor, chef, cleaning person, mediator, and chauffeur amid all the family fun. Having the kids back in school for several hours daily allows you to take time for yourself! Be intentional about taking time off from work, scheduling self-care, connecting with friends, or even going on a date during those first few days of school if you feel up to it! You’ve closed out the summer with a great deal of back-to-school preparation, and now is an ideal time to carve out a brain break and a reset for yourself. When you’re feeling refreshed, you’ll be more excited about what’s to come and more capable of handling whatever the new school year sends your way! 

What helps you and your family get prepared for a new school year? Please share your best tips for this back to school guide for single moms in the comments!