Getting kids (and parents) ready to head back to school

Getting your kids ready to go back to school after the holidays can be a challenge on its own, but there are some things you can do to make sure that you and the kids are well-prepared. Photo / Getty Images

Join hosts Jordan Watson, aka How to Dad, and ZM’s Clint Roberts every week for The Parenting Hangover podcast, where the two dads talk about everything involved in raising their respective families in a modern, changing world. From tackling the big topics like the birds and the bees to talking about intimacy after kids with a qualified sexologist these 21st-century Kiwi dads aren’t afraid to go there.

With the new year entering full force and January now over, the summer holidays are wrapping up and the kids will be getting ready to head back to school.

This is the week when schools, early learning centres and daycares across the country begin the drawn-out and long overdue (ask any parent) process of opening up for the new school year.

If you’re lucky, doors opened on January 27. If your school hates you, you’ll have to wait until the Wednesday after Waitangi – February 7.

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For those parents who have been juggling work commitments, childcare and entertaining small people since a week before Christmas, it cannot come soon enough.

The Parenting Hangover hosts Jordan Watson and Clint Roberts are now seasoned parents; Roberts has two daughters and Watson has three. But for these veterans, getting the kids back to school is something that they have been looking forward to.

“You’d have to be the perfect parent to honestly say, ‘I’ve enjoyed every second and every minute of every day (of these holidays), and I wish they would go on even longer than six weeks!’” said Watson.

So what do kids need, if anything, to prepare them for a new school year? Watson, preparing to embark on his seventh round of back-to-school, shared some advice.

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“Maybe we should have been putting them to bed earlier and early over this week (to prepare them), but we haven’t. So come the night before school they’re all going to be told to go to bed now,” he said.

Although Watson acknowledges they may struggle to fall back into the school routine, he notes that this is only temporary: “They’ll have a week of like, ‘Where am I? I’m trying to learn ABCs’ and then they’ll come right.”

As long as you prioritise getting the kids back to school and keep the rest of the week drama-free, the routine should begin falling into place itself.

“It just happens. It slaps you in the face. You’ll be late the first day, you’ll be rushing at their door, you’ll probably yell at someone as you put your shoes on and get in the car. But you’ll make it.”

And yet, despite nostalgic memories of heading to The Warehouse with a list of stationary prerequisites, that may not be the case for the 2024 school student.

“For a lot of schools, it’s in-house. You get sent a little sheet and you tick what you need. And then you’ll show up and it’s there for you through the school or a stationary provider through the school,” said Watson.

“We haven’t gone out and hunted for 1B5′s or 2B5′s in all my years of being a dad.”

This was confirmed by Roberts’ mum, Colleen Roberts, a recently retired teacher of 20 years, who said that leaving it to the parents to organise had its fair share of issues. “Many schools have opted for a stationary pack because they were sick of, you know, the delay getting stationary and people buying all sorts of random things, or reusing other stuff.”

In other school news, what shoes does the modern child need to wear? Well, love them or hate them, it seems a lot of schools have relaxed the rules to allow the synthetic shoe-of-the-moment onto the playground. However, not every school has been so welcoming to the idea.

Clint notes that his kids’ primary school requires a uniform, albeit only a uniform of t-shirts, shorts, and hats.

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“The shorts are a uniform, but then shoes you’re free to express yourself. There’s no like black school shoes so every single kid has Crocs.

“And look, I was the evil dad that made my kids not have them. They proudly wore jandals… and every week it was just, ‘Dad, can I please have some Crocs?’

“And I folded just before Christmas — all three of them have Crocs and they’re trading their little jewel gibbet bits and terrible.”

Finally, Clint suggests that parents secretly (or not so secretly) hold some form of celebration the day the kids vacate the house, which Watson says is 100 per cent true.

“Be honest — when they go back to school, do you have a little celebration? Do you do something?” asked Clint.

Watson replied: “My wife Jody and I are going out for lunch! It’s a celebration. It’s 100 per cent a celebration that day.”

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  • To find out more about back-to-school parenting tips, listen to this week’s episode of The Parenting Hangover below.
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