Tips, tricks to keep parents sane this school year

We all know what we should be doing before we send the kids back to school in a few weeks.

If students heading off to college haven’t learned to do their own laundry, now is the time. They also could use some tips on getting along with their new roommate and not running up their credit cards.

Kindergarten teachers hope we’ve taught preschool grads to tie their shoes, zip up their coats and listen to directions.

Countless websites offer tips on helping kids entering preschool to college with everything from social skills to study habits. We’d like to share some more practical advice that could make all the difference in what kind of year it is for Mom and Dad.

These tips are for parents sending their kids to school for the first time — and for those who managed to forget over the summer just exactly what is involved in being the parent of an elementary, middle or high school student.

1. Buy an extra garbage can to use as a recycling bin. Put this can wherever you read materials sent home from school with your child. Do not, under any circumstances, SAVE papers for LATER! If your child is not going out for a sports team and does not need to fill out a release form, toss it. If your child is going out for the team, fill out the form NOW. Otherwise, you will find yourself searching through an inch-high stack of documents after the first week of school to find a form that was due yesterday.

2. Schedule time to help your kids with homework. Even if you are doing your best to help your kids learn to be independent, there will be times you need to help them with their homework. If the assignment has directions written specifically for you, this is one of those times. The creation of a diorama depicting a particular point in history, a model the solar system and complicated math problems also are likely to require assistance.

3. Do not assume your child will want hot lunch. Or that they will want to bring a lunch from home. Whatever you assume about lunch, actually, is likely to be incorrect. Also, if you buy a giant box filled with individual serving bags of pretzels or chips or cookies, your kids most likely will decide they hate these items about halfway through the box.

4. Clean your kids’ rooms before you go back-to-school shopping. You might discover, after sorting through all the piles, that they already own most of what they need to start the year.

5. Have your phone handy in the morning. After you’ve announced for the sixth time that it’s time to get up, hold your phone up and threaten to take a video of their early-morning self and post it on Insta.

6. Keep your expectations low. The blissful days of summer vacation can encourage parents to believe their kids will make their own lunches every day, pick out their clothes the night before and remember to bring their clarinet to band practice. These are not likely to happen consistently, if at all.