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Parents Panel: What's one thing you do to make the return to school go smoothly?

Special first-day breakfasts, shopping for school supplies, and new bedtime routines.


AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched TheJournal.ie Parents Panel.

September’s almost here, so this week we’re asking our panel – or at least, those of them with school-age kids – about that dreaded first day back following the holidays. What’s one thing you do to make the return to school go smoothly?

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

1. Deciding lunches in advance
To lessen arguments during the year, we have a little tradition where I sit down with the boys in advance and decide five lunches a week for that term. It gives them some responsibility around school.

- Suzie Kelly

2. Planning a field trip
This September is going to be different for us, because I’ll be homeschooling our two daughters for the first time. Our first official day of lessons will start like any other school day, with the kids out of bed at 8am and lessons at 9am.  The girls are well used to the idea at this stage, as we have been preparing as a family for over a year now. Initially they were worried about seeing their friends but we have put arrangements into place to make sure they get those important social experiences.  As well as the lesson plans, we’re having a field trip day to Trinity to see the Book Of Kells on September 4th. Everyone’s very excited about that!

- Susannah O’Brien

o brien school Source: Susannah O'Brien

3. Movies and junk food the day before
Back to school is my favourite time of year, although for some reason the boys don’t feel the same way! About a week out from D-day we get the kids back into a good bedtime and wake-up schedule, which lessens the shock on that first morning back. The day before, we make sure to have a nice chill out day which generally means movies and junk food.

- Ken Hyland

4. Shopping for school supplies
We don’t have school uniforms, but a bit of shopping for new clothes, school books, rucksacks, lunch boxes and everything else has helped get their minds focusing. The twins have already had a quick visit to their school to reacquaint themselves, so they are now really looking forward to the first day back. We just need to keep a slow build-up of excitement to their actual return.

- Ross Boxshall

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boxshall school (2) Source: Ross Boxshall

5. Making the first day a big adventure
This year we have our youngest starting school and our oldest going into sixth class, so we have back-to-school tasks well figured out.  With the youngest, we’ve kept the chat going all summer that she is going to be starting school and that it’ll be an exciting new adventure for her.  She can’t wait!

- Alan Dooley

6. Her favourite cereal for the first day
My teenager is back to school this week and already she is dreading it. I have her favourite breakfast cereal bought in for her and a few of the things that she likes for her lunch. Her uniform is hanging up ready to be worn, and her school bag is already packed. We have been having a few late-night ice cream evenings as treats this week, before the early bedtimes come back.

- Denise Cumiskey

Stay updated by following the Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter - and don’t forget to enter this week’s competition for a two-night getaway, dinner and a spa treatment at the Ice House in Co Mayo!

More from our Parents Panel: How do you manage to fit in quality time with your kids?

And even more: How do you limit screen time for your little ones?

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