Summer is in full swing and the kids are loving it. Parents, on the other hand, may be counting down the days until their children head back to school and some semblance of order is restored. That’s not to say parents don’t love having quality time with their kids—but 3 months of being a non-stop chauffeur to and from summer camps and friends houses, planning and executing vacations (especially those that you end up needing another vacation to recover from), and dealing with medical uh-ohs that land little ones at urgent care can really take a toll.
As the 2018-2019 school year approaches, it’s a good idea to set aside some time for back to school prep. This includes super fun things like stocking up on school supplies and picking out new lunch boxes and backpacks, as well as some not-as-fun activities like getting sleep schedules back on track and having school physicals done. Keep reading for the top five things you need to do before waving a gleeful goodbye to your kids on the school bus. (And trust us — you are not the only parent who is happy to wish summer adieu!)
1. Get sleep schedules back on track
Younger children and teenagers alike can end up with wacky sleep schedules as the summer draws on. While summer allows for sleeping in, school days do not. It’s a good idea to start working on sleep schedules between one and two weeks before school starts.
Instead of just having your children try to go to bed earlier (they likely won’t be able to sleep earlier if they aren’t tired), start having them wake up half an hour earlier each day. This will ensure that they’re tired by bedtime. You can increase this amount of time incrementally.
For young children who still nap, it’s smart to limit how much nap time they’re getting, which can throw off their nightly schedules.
Another helpful tip is to make sure that your kids are getting enough sunlight during the day and that their bedrooms are as dark as possible at night. This will help reset their natural circadian rhythm, helping them get more restful sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
2. Schedule school physicals and vaccinations
Yep, it’s that time again! Children need physicals before they can go back to school — especially if they play sports. Did you know that you can get a school physical at most urgent care locations? It’s true. If your children are due for vaccinations before school starts, you can usually have that done at urgent care, as well.
If you decide to go to urgent care for physicals and vaccinations, be sure to book an appointment ahead of time using Solv. On average, patients who book urgent care appointments through Solv only wait 8 minutes to be seen by a physician.
Side note: back to school season also means flu season. You can get a flu shot for yourself and your kids at most urgent care centers.
3. Stock up on school supplies, lunch boxes, and backpacks
The joy of a fresh, unwritten in notebook is something that never gets old. Neither does choosing a cool backpack and lunchbox. One of the most important considerations to make is the backpack — kids are often loaded up with textbooks, making their backpack far too heavy for their small frames. This can cause neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain or discomfort.
It’s a good idea to choose a backpack that has the following features, to make sure your child is comfortable:
- Broad straps with padding for the shoulders
- Proper size (kids should have backpacks made for children, not adults)
- Pockets, slots, and dividers to help distribute the weight
- Properly adjust hip and chest straps
It may not be “cool” but it’s a good idea to encourage your child to wear both straps while carrying their backpack. Doing so can help alleviate pain in the short- and long-term.
4. Stock a first aid kit for home, the car, and school
As a parent, you know that injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. Before the school year starts, take time to stock first aid kits for your home, your car, and for each of your children to bring to school and stash in their backpack or locker.
Not sure what to include in a first aid kit? The Red Cross recommends the following for a family of 4:
- 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
- 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
- 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
- 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
- 5 antiseptic wipe packets
- 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
- 1 blanket (space blanket) [Available on the Red Cross Store]
- 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
- 1 instant cold compress
- 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
- 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
- 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
- 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
- 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches) [Available on the Red Cross Store]
- 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
- Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
- 2 triangular bandages
- First aid instruction booklet
For car and school first aid kits, feel free to pare down to bandages, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, and hydrocortisone ointment. That should be plenty, as all schools will have robust first aid kits available.
5. Monitor sun exposure into the school year
The sun will still be blazing strong as kids head back to school. Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean they don’t need to apply sunscreen. Encourage facial sunscreen every day and provide your kids with sunblock for times they’ll be outside for more than 10 to 15 minutes. If your child plays outdoor sports, be especially sure that they remember to put sunscreen on every few hours. Preventing sun damage can save them from painful sunburns now and skin disease later in life.
Summer isn’t over yet but time flies when you’re having fun. Setting aside time to get ready for the school year can help you feel more prepared. Solv wishes you and your kids a happy, healthy summer and school year. If a minor illness or injury arises, book an online appointment for urgent care — so you can get back to your life faster!