It’s September and we’re in the midst of the happiest two weeks of the year for parents (at least those who aren’t teachers) all over the country. It’s Back to School time! While this time of year is somewhat neutral for most of the Pop-Pop set, for our kids it’s a time of great relief. No more desperately searching for impromptu babysitters or day camps, no more dragging surly teens into country-spanning road trips, no more “we’re bored and have nothing to do!” They finally get a few hours of peace and quiet.
That said, it’s not all peaches and cream for our adult children, this time of year.
Getting ready to get the kids back to school can be stressful. The temptation, of course, is to keep an eye on the grandkids by pretending to be a student and enrolling at their school, but that approach isn’t nearly as effective as one might think (mostly because this isn’t a bad 80s movie). Instead, try these five ways to help your kids and grandkids prepare for the school year.
Clothes Shopper Extraordinaire: Well, not so much shopper as driver, chaperone, and pack mule. If you have grandkids in the tween to teen set, they don’t need help picking out clothes (trust me, as a gentleman of a certain age, your opinions on what to wear are not welcome), but they do need help getting to where the clothes are. And that’s where you can come in, since you have a license and a vehicle. Taking this on can help your child free up time for other back-to-school necessities, especially if they have other children in different age groups. Plus it will give you some much needed time to chat with your grandkids (or at least much needed time to watch them stare at their phones). Make sure you know budget and clothing limitations, and have your grandkids parents on speed dial in case a judgement call is needed.
Be the Batman of school supplies: Even the most organized of parents can forget (or run out of time to get) one or two simple items when trying to pull together school supplies, so call upon your inner Batman and have some backup ready. Pick up some paper, folders, pencils and other items, and be ready to swoop into the rescue when the call comes the night before school starts. Many schools now post their requirements on their websites or register their classroom requirements with the major office supply chains, so log on and be prepared. And if turns out your grandkids don’t need the items you bought right away, they likely will eventually when those things run out or get damaged or lost. Worst case scenario, you can often donate these things to schools to provide to kids who can’t afford to purchase supplies themselves.
There’s always the checkbook: There always seems to be last minute expenses, whether it be sports equipment for your high schooler or ridiculously expensive books for you college age grandkid, so if you’re financially able, having the checkbook or credit card handy can be a huge help. Let your kids and grandkids know ahead of time that this is an option, or simply write a check early as a gift and suggest they use it for those unexpected expenses.
Provide a home base and transport: If your kids work and you don’t, consider making your space your grandkids temporary home base. This doesn’t necessarily have to translate to a formal babysitting arrangement, really just giving the grandkids a place to stop after school to grab a snack, do some homework, or generally just vegetate while waiting for their parents to get home. Or make yourself available as a driver to get your grandkids to and from school or to post-school events. It will make life easier on your grown children, knowing their kids are with a responsible adult, and you get the aforementioned benefit of watching your grandkids stare at their cell phones.
Don’t forget the kid receipt: Many schools with younger children now require individuals picking them up to produce a receipt of sorts. This could be something as simple as a card with the child’s name on it to an elaborately decorated pass in the shape of whatever animal mascot is assigned to a particular year. Schools will also record names of valid picker-uppers on a list prior to the school year beginning. If your grandkids school is using either of these measures, make sure you’re set up or you might be left waiting at the curb
What measures have you taken to help out your kids and grandkids as they start the school year? Of if you’re a parent, what sort of things would help you most? Answer in the comments below!