Back To School 2wm

Note: This back to school guide was originally posted in August 2015. The year may change but the challenges a new school season brings stay the same. Enjoy this throwback guide to getting the school year off on the right foot, and good luck to stoner parents everywhere! 


The Back To School Rush

With August comes the Back to School Rush. Rush for everything. To get supplies, to get into the pediatrician’s office, to get the haircuts and the new shoes and the lunch box system that is finally going to work right this time. It’s the rush to finish the summer reading program, the rush to stock up on Pirates Booty and Cheezits, the rush to cram their heads with the information you were supposed to keep them abreast with during the summer. Which you didn’t of course because duh, it’s SUMMER! Millennials are the parents that are seeing the negative effects of too much academic pressure, so yeah. So what if we slacked off this summer? So what if we let them have two popsicles instead of one? So what if we misplaced the flashcards and skipped a couple of book club meetings? We were swimming and traveling and bonding with siblings and reenforcing the closeness of family.

I’ve written up a nice little guide to help stoner parents get ready for the upcoming school year. I mean, we all want to go home after school drop-off and comfortably get stoned right? Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:

  • How to get your child’s brain back into “thinking mode”- even if you let them watch Kung Fu Panda every day for the past three months.
  • The major skills kids should review before school starts.
  • How to build a morning schedule that will work, and how to get everybody in the house to follow it.
  • The number one conversation you should have with your child before school begins.


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Counteract the ‘Summer Brain Drain’ and Prepare your child for Academic Success

Uh Oh, did mom slack off and forget to make the kids practice their math this summer? The Stoner Mom’s girls go to a school for advanced academics, meaning they get way more drama from their mama if skills disappear over the summer. Here’s my two-week plan to get their brains back in shape:

Week One

    Select a time of day to begin a daily work time for kids. I use the time immediately after lunch, because our dining table is also where we do homework, so it seems a natural fit to have them begin working when bellies are full and they are already there. If your child is especially resistant to sitting down and having school work, start with a small amount of time, and work your way up by 5-10 minute increments. A consistent ten minute routine after lunch to discuss what we are reading and have a quick math drill will go a long way to setting the tone for school.
     Begin with something easy.  I like to begin with the child’s summer reading program. Dig out the paperwork and make sure it’s up to date and hopefully, complete. If you are like us, your kids read all summer, but remembering to log the books read is more of a challenge. If it’s not done yet, have your child work on copying all the titles they have read or had read to them over the summer.
     Start enforcing daily reading at bedtime. If you have neglected enforcing reading over the summer, it’s time for you to begin. Every night should have mandatory reading. 15 minutes is enough, and it is totally acceptable if you are the one doing the reading. Don’t make it stressful, and never ever use reading as punishment.

    Review rules and guidelines for screen time and device use. I am not one of those parents who is all anti-technology. You won’t find me raising my fists and bitching about how kids these days spend too much time with their eyes on a screen.

Parents are responsible for teaching children the appropriate usage of these devices. What that means to each family is different, as everybody’s values are different. I was raised by a dad who worked on the computer all the time. To me, that’s what a “working dad” looks like. A guy on a computer. My first husband demonstrated that and so does my second. And me? My children see a woman who listens to history podcasts on her Macbook while making dinner. When they sneak  into the kitchen to steal snacks they have to creep around me as I’m typing away on my blog. So, the point is, we are very much a family of gamers and computer nerds. Top to bottom and extended family included.”

Rare is the parent who didn’t go overboard on screen time this summer (road trip survival necessity!). That being said, it’s a good idea to limit screen time during the school year. Especially important is the time before bed which greatly impacts the quality sleep. Get the child back on a reasonable screen diet before the year begins. They can’t follow expectations if they don’t know them right?
     Value your role as your child’s educator. Don’t let intimidation keep you from having those kids practice. Every minute of help from you counts in their success for the year. Never underestimate the importance of your interest and support. Mothers who lack intellectual confidence should go overboard in their interest in learning with their child.
     Overview the earlier years school work, and begin practicing the skills they showed off at the end of the last year. The end of the school year typically brings home lots of the proud students work. Take out these items and reminisce with your child to help motivate them to practice essential skills:

Reading. Reading out loud, with expressive voice. Reading at previous grade level comfortably.

Writing. Younger ages should practice 1-4 sentences with accompanying drawn  and colored picture. Older ages can write a full-page, on varying topics of interest to them. Have them write by hand, type on computers, and text on tablets.

Mathematics. Particularly memorization and other skills that will be useful for the upcoming year.

Remind them of the activities they participated in during the summer. You’d be surprised to know how many warm up exercises and school discussions will begin with talking about what everyone did over the summer. You’d be equally surprised that your child will completely forget that you took them to museums every month, had swim lessons, went to Disneyland, and will instead report that they “forget” or “don’t know”. Remind the kids that they saw Mt Rushmore in May, so they don’t totally embarrass the family name this August.

Week Two

     Have the following essential conversations early in this week:

The Talk. Always have an age-appropriate sex talk before the year begins. Start with the basics, then open the floor to their questions. Establish right NOW that talking to you about these things is comfortable and non-judgemental. The more you can prepare your child before some ignorant kid at school starts telling them things, the better off your child will be. Don’t leave them ignorant and susceptible to the grooming or unrealistic fear. Establish these conversations with you as normal, as early as possible.

At-School Health and Safety. Hand washing, going potty, wiping and hygiene. Blowing nose, when to go to the nurse, when to ask to come home, protocol for drop off and pick up, where you will be, who is allowed to pick them up, a meeting place for the year, anything you want the child to know as they are out in their (protected) world on their own. Knowing that you told your child these things is as much for your mental health as it is for their safety.

     Have a plan for breakfasts, and make sure the children understand expectations. Choose a handful of tried and true, easy to prepare, and consistently enjoyed, breakfast meals, and stick with them. Having four ideas written down and hanging on the fridge can save your ass on the day you slept through the alarm and are barely getting out of the house on time.

The Night Before

     Finish all laundry for the week.
     Help your child select some outfit ideas for the week. Always chose the following days outfit the night before. Have the child choose if they like, but establish early in the school years that your approval of school wardrobe is mandatory.
     After dinner, bring the volume of the house down considerably.
     Pack lunch items that can sit overnight. If there are things to cook in the morning, have the needed ingredients grouped together and easily accessible.
     Read early, and turn the lights off a few minutes early. Allow for night-time conversations. Tell your child encouraging things for the day ahead, help ease their tensions to allow restful sleep.

Back To School 5wMThe Schedule Adjustment


About two weeks before school starts, it is wise to start working on getting the kids back on a reasonable schedule. Kids that are especially effected by their sleep routine will benefit from an even longer adjustment period. Staying up late in the summer is mandatory for most kids, but that will bite everyone in the ass if you don’t break them from the habit before the alarm goes off at 6:00 am.

The Gentle Way to Get Your Kids To Adjust Their Bedtime

To determine a bedtime, begin with the time your child must be at school. Then, working backward, figure out the time needed to drive to school, what time you need to leave the house, how long it takes for your child to get ready and eat a healthy unhurried breakfast, and that will bring you to the time the child needs to wake up. From the time the child needs to wake up, subtract the number of hours the child needs to sleep, and that will bring you to their bedtime.

wake up time – 10 hours = bedtime

My children need to be awake at 6;45. Subtract 10 hours and that puts bedtime at 8:45 pm. My 6-year-old needs a bit more sleep than that, so her reading in bed will begin at 7:30, with lights out at 7:45 pm. My eight-year-old is a lot less affected by her sleep routine, so she will be in bed reading by 8:30, with lights out at 8:45.
To ease your child into their new routine, begin adjusting their bedtime each night by small increments, to eventually get them at the desired bedtime about one week before the first day of school. My oldest has been going to bed at 9:30 every night, so for week one I will move her bedtime to 9:20, then 9:10 then 9:00, then 8:50, and finally 8:45. For Week Two I will have both girls go to sleep every night at their new school year bedtime. By the time the first day of school arrives, they will have adjusted to their new routine and will have an easier time getting up that morning.
Don’t forget to use this technique on yourself! I have had the wonderful opportunity this summer of sleeping until around 8:00 am when the girls usually get up. I’ll need to adjust over that last week before school by waking up progressively earlier. I’ll start getting up in the six o clock hour and will begin a more consistent nighttime routine for myself.

Making Daily Routines

image of the Stoner Moms morning routine timeline
The morning routine for the school year
evening routine
The Stoner Mom’s evening routine for the school year.

Having a few routines that you use throughout the day is an excellent way to get your autopilot brain doing exactly what it should. I’ve written before on how important building small daily routines are.make a morning routine for the family, sit down with your timeframes from the last exercise handy, and sketch out a simple timeline for your family’s typical morning. Start with the time the each child needs to be where, and work backward, filling out the empty time slots with the essentials that must get done. Not a lot needs to happen in the morning, so try to use few steps. Some parents find success having their kids use a visual morning checklist. My girls are creatures of habit so all it takes for them are a couple of mornings of the same thing and boom. Routine established.

As important to the well-being of the child as the morning routine, is the afternoon and evening routine which encompasses everything from homework to laying the groundwork for a good nights sleep. Routines are all about autopilot; developing healthy habits so deeply ingrained that the brain can focus on other stuff while autopilot takes care of the basics.

When the evening routine for the kids concludes, I am free to run my nightly beauty routine, and there is no stress about when am I going to get a chance to do it, because the chance has been carefully built-in to mine and my family’s daily schedule.

Preparing in advance for an organized school year can go a long way in making your days run smoothly. Give everyone in your family an increased chance at daily success by keeping them motivated to stay organized. When you send those little love creatures of yours out into the world, knowing that you covered all these subjects will ease your tension and let you actually enjoy those few hours of quiet freedom every day.


The Stoner Mom is a pulled-together, WAHM, SAHM, boo-boo kissing supermom. Most would assume she is not stoned. Most would be quite wrong.

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