Category Archives: school

7 School Supply Shopping Tips For Messy Kids

I know what you’re thinking. All kids are messy. Indeed, they are. I’m talking about kids who swim in the deep end of messy—kids who, despite their best efforts, are disorganized, sloppy, forgetful, oblivious of systems, and generally unaware of and uninterested in the condition of their stuff. I’m the parent of such a child, and I can tell you from experience, school is a stumbling block.

Whether your kid has an underlying learning or attention issue (mine does!) or he comes by his penchant for chaos honestly, an especially messy kid will struggle without the proper equipment. Here are seven school supply shopping tips to give your messy kid a tidy start to the school year.

1. Don’t be swayed by the 3 for $1 notebook sale. Those notebooks have flimsy paper covers that bend and rip easily. Buy notebooks with a plastic cover. They’ll cost more, but they’ll last. The same goes for folders and divider tabs. Make sure they’re plastic or laminated.

2. If your child is old enough to require a binder, buy reinforced filler paper. It has a strong, clear tape along the left edge to support the holes and resist tearing.

3. Speaking of binders, size up. It’s amazing how much stuff kids can cram inside a binder, and if you have a child who rarely never sorts through papers, a 1-inch binder will burst at the seams quickly. Go for the 1 ½- or 2-inch size.

4. There’s no correlation between using college ruled paper and future success. If your kid has messy handwriting and would benefit from having more space between lines, buy wide ruled paper and notebooks.

5. If your kid makes careless mistakes in math due to messy handwriting, buy ½-inch ruled graph paper. Lining up numbers on graph paper lessens the chance of errors due to disarray.

6. Get a zipper pocket or pouch that can be inserted in a binder or placed in a backpack. This is a clean, safe place for index cards, flash cards, and other small but important papers that would otherwise end up crumpled or lost.

7. Purchase or give your kid access to an e-reader so you can download ebooks when he conveniently forgets to bring his reading assignments home from school. Plus, you can adjust the font size and style and enable audio features, which is helpful for kids with reading challenges.

These shopping tips aren’t going to magically transform your kid from messy to neat overnight, but they’ll give your kid a clean, organized start to the new school year.

What school supply shopping tips for messy kids would you add to this list?

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A Real Mom’s Back to School Checklist: Fantasy vs. Reality

It’s that time, Mamas. There’s a hella lot to do to get the kids ready for school, and it’s a damn good thing you’ve had all summer to get it done [insert laugh track].

If you’re anything like me, you want to be the mom who does all the things to ensure a smooth transition back to school, but you also want to be mom who puts all the laundry away and that hardly ever happens.

I’ve created a fantasy vs. reality back to school checklist to point out all the shoulda woulda couldas, but, more importantly, to emphasize what matters—getting your kids’ butts out the door on the first day of school because #ByeFelicia.

Good luck!

 2 months before

Fantasy: Schedule annual physicals and request medical forms for fall sports.

Reality: Build sandcastles. Eat ice cream for dinner. You’ll regret this later, but until that unfortunate Sunday night…

6 weeks before

Fantasy: Sort through last year’s fall/winter clothing to see what still fits or should be donated.

Reality: There is no fall/winter clothing to sort through because your kids refuse to wear pants.

5 weeks before

Fantasy: Check your kids’ progress on summer reading and math assignments.

Reality: Ha! It’s only July!

1 month before:

Fantasy: Purchase school supplies.

Reality: It’s too late. The shelves are stocked for Halloween.

3 weeks before:

Fantasy: Create a “back to school” organization station with color-coded bins, cubbies, and hooks for each kid.

Reality: Put a laundry basket by the front door.

2 weeks before:

Fantasy: Get your kids back on an early bedtime routine.

Reality: That seems like a lot of work when the first morning will be a bitch anyway.

1 week before:

Fantasy: Merge the new school calendar with all extracurricular schedules in a master calendar.

Reality: Your mom group text or local Facebook parents group will remind you about anything important.

3 days before

Fantasy: Meal plan for the first week of school.

Reality: Alphabetize your takeout menus.

The night before

Fantasy: Prepare healthy lunches and snacks.

Reality: You never emptied the lunchboxes in June. Call the EPA emergency hotline and burn lunchboxes in the backyard.

First day of school

Fantasy: Enjoy every moment! They grow up so fast!

Reality: Ask a friend to tag you in her pictures. Binge watch Orange Is the New Black. You can shower tomorrow.

 

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The Million Dollar Mistake

“The Million Dollar Fuck-Up” is probably a better title.

Spoiler alert: This story doesn’t have a very happy ending.

The weather in northern New Jersey has officially shifted from fall to winter. Chilly mornings and sunny afternoons have given way to bitter cold, cloudy, and windy days with occasional snow flurries. In other words, it’s time to wear pants.

At bedtime last night, I told my sensory sensitive seven-year-old son who hates nothing more than wearing pants that he would have to wear them to school in the morning.

“Will you pay me six thousand dollars?” His blue eyes sparkled with mischief.

I loved games. “Yes!”

“Will you pay me a million dollars?”

“Of course! I’ll write you a check!”

I didn’t anticipate how easily he would get dressed (in pants!) the next morning. I also didn’t anticipate that he would believe the printable check for kids I found on the Internet was real.

check

Like, really real. Like, he couldn’t wait to brag to his friends. Like, he thought we’d go to the bank after school, deposit the check (“like Mommy does”), and receive a million dollars in cold hard cash (like Mommy does?!). Like, for real.

It seemed like such a good idea the night before. That morning, not so much. When I confessed that the check was fake, my son was heartbroken. He was Lloyd Dobbler in “Say Anything” when Diane broke up with him and gave him a pen.

I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.

I gave my son a fake check. I gave him a fucking pen.

Needless to say, things got worse before they got NOT BETTER AT ALL. I apologized for inadvertently hurting his feelings and tricking him. Tears squirted from his eyes, he threatened to take the pants off, and he wouldn’t budge from the staircase. Our surprisingly easy morning turned into a shit show, complete with a stand-off, irrational negotiations, and some miserable but necessary tough love.

Outside, the wind whipped. I was desperate. “If you keep your pants on, I’ll take you to the toy store after school.”

“I’m wearing shorts and you’re taking me to the toy store because you lied to me!” Ouch.

This grueling back and forth went on for a long while. In the end, he kept his pants on, but we were late for school and he refused to hold my hand on the walk from the car to the main office, which was his way of giving me a pen (and stabbing me in the heart with it and twisting it in both directions).

Did he need to wear appropriate clothing for the weather? Yes. Did I inadvertently lie and hurt his feelings? Also yes. Did I take him to the toy store after school? You betcha. Guilt is expensive, and for the record, I paid with cash, not a check.

The lessons in this cautionary tale require bullet points.

  • Kids are literal thinkers. Don’t forget this important nugget. Ever.
  • Don’t write checks you can’t afford.
  • Never break someone’s heart and then give them a pen.
  • Don’t judge parents. We’re all doing our best, especially on Monday mornings.

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Filed under guilt, motherhood, parenting, school, sensory processing disorder