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After months of waiting, it’s almost here: an end to a marathon more arduous than sitting through the Hobbit (and felt about as long). School holidays are almost over. Unfortunately, that also means preparing for the new school year.  

So let’s gird our loins and get ready for 2013.

Ditch the summer jetlag

With those dreaded morning runs about to commence, everyone’s body clocks are in for a rude shock. It happens ever so slowly but soon you and the kids settle into a pattern of late nights, spooning remotes and game controls. Mornings seem to feature fewer AM hours and who can resist a nap? Only people who hate joy, that’s who.

Start waking the kids (and yourself) earlier, nix the naps and shuffle them off to bed before Embarrassing Bodies comes on. Prepare them for the early morning school starts by waking at an earlier hour, dressed and fed.  If they’re really resisting the earlier bed time, find some way to tire them out during the day through exercise. Even giving them half an hour to read in bed before turning the lights off may even soothe the early night grumbles.

Pro tip: make sure there’s at least an hour’s grace between them, any technology and the pillow for a smoother sleep (that goes for you, too).

School accessories

The art of detritus reaches exquisite (and expensive) heights when it comes to buying all the books, uniforms and accessories required for the school year.

For each child, you’ll need the following:

  • School uniform (shoes, undies and socks, uniform separates, hat)
  • No uniform? Let them choose some clothing or accessories to give them a boost.
  • School bag
  • Lunch bag and water bottle
  • School books
  • School stationery (pencil cases, calculators, protractors, notebooks and as many pens as you can carry)

Take stock of what is already in your house and if it can be pressed into service for another year, or at least part of it – surely there’s more life in those shorts, pencil case, lunch box (and not because it’s been festering over a lunch made in December). If not, there are always cheaper options – grabbing second hand books and uniforms.

Make sure you label every item….then watch them lose every stitch of uniform and scrap of stationery before Autumn.

Admin-ageddon

Get all those papers and finicky details sorted out…and not the night before school starts.

  • Organise or charge up travel cards if your kids catch public transport.
  • Note each school date on every source of tech and paper. If the act of writing the dates out 500 times doesn’t sear it into your brain, you’ll at least have easy access.
  • Before and after school care: mind you book them in so you don’t have to mind them.
  • I’m not speaking ill of your child and nor should you: are they fully vaccinated?

When it comes to getting assistance, students and families aren’t alone: 

  • Sorted out your ABSTUDY? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are eligible if they are undertaking Secondary school.
  • The Youth Allowance is available for students aged over 16 with higher rates if you’re living away from home.
  • Additional financial support for people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric disabilities is available via the Youth Disability Supplement.
  • Find out if your family is eligible for the Schoolkids Bonus. Replacing the Education Tax Refund, this payment no longer requires a separate claim and can be delivered in lump sum payments.  Just the thing for paying for that lost uniform or 8 lunchboxes.

Lunch intentions

Oh sure, you’re going to make amazing lunches this year. You even have a whole board on Pinterest devoted to the topic. Though we start the year with the best intentions, now’s the time to face reality: there will be at least one lunch stowed in a takeaway container and it may even contain more packaging than flat pack furniture.  Here’s how to start the year well:

  • Get the kids involved: steer them towards making healthy choices and give a little ground for the odd treat.
  • Teach them how to look after themselves and get them to make their own lunches (age appropriate).
  • Make choices that are healthy for the kids and the environment: food that comes with its own packaging is healthier for them, reusable packaging is healthier for the environment. 
  • Make sure they have a water bottle: those brains need water.

Extracurricular agreements

Make a pact with your kids now and keep to it: no more than two extracurricular activities. Save your dollars and save their schedules. While many believe these hobbies and classes can boost student performance, there’s validity in giving their schedule some breathing space so they can learn how to balance study with hobbies, chores and friendships. And let’s not forget, boredom has its benefits.

Now you’re ready for the school year. See you on the other side of the gate.