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How This Mom Gets Her Kids Ready to Go Back to School

4 Smart Strategies This Mom Uses to Get Her Family Ready to Go Back to School

After a long summer of family vacations and outdoor adventures, returning to the back-to-school mindset can be tough — maybe even more so for parents than kids. Gabrielle Flowers Rader, mom to 9-year-old Chad Jr. and 4-year-old Reagan, says that's definitely the case in her household.

"Honestly, the kids are typically excited to get back and see all their friends," she says. "We're always a bit sad though because back to school means that travel tends to slow down and it's the beginning of the colder weather heading our way."

No matter how excited her kids might be, Rader and her husband, Chad, still make a conscious effort to set their kids up for success before the school year begins. First, Rader makes time to check in with how her kids are feeling. "Ceej [Chad Jr.'s nickname] gets a little nervous, but he doesn't let it overwhelm him. We make sure he knows that it is OK to have those feelings and encourage him to talk about it," she says. "Reagan doesn't start kindergarten until 2023, and so far she's just excited to ride a school bus like her big brother. We're probably more nervous than she is!"


The back-to-school season also comes with a lot of logistics, like what time the bus comes in the morning and which homework assignments are due when. A few weeks before the school year begins, Rader switches her family from their laid-back summer schedule to their early-to-bed, early-to-rise school-year routine. "The biggest tip I can offer is to start practicing their routines a couple weeks before they go back. Getting them in the bed earlier, not sleeping in as much, laying out important items the night before," she says. "Doing things that will help them ease back in so it isn't such a huge shock when the time comes." Rader also sets aside time to plan her morning routine with her husband. Usually, one of them gets up early with their son, while the other takes some time to relax or exercise before getting their daughter out of bed.

Once the school year starts, the Rader family adds another key piece to their daily routine: the backpack check. "We will take a look at Chad Jr.'s school folder each night to ensure we aren't missing anything from his teacher," Rader explains. "Each morning, there's one last check to make sure he has his water, snack, and everything else needed in his school bag."

In addition to the usual school supplies like notebooks, folders, and pencils, Rader makes sure Chad Jr. also has a pair of comfortable headphones, a mask, and hand sanitizer in his backpack every day. She also keeps a custom BAND-AID® Brand first aid kit on hand during the school year. "The first-aid kit is so essential because you never know when you'll be in need," she says. "Whether it's a paper cut or a scraped knee, it's much better to prepare ahead of time versus scrambling to find the right items in the moment." BAND-AID® Brand antiseptic spray to clean cuts or minor wounds, Neosporin® Plus Pain, Itch, Scar to protect before a bandage is put on, 100-percent waterproof BAND-AID® Brand WATER-BLOCK Flex Bandages that will stay on no matter what her kids get into, gauze, and her kids' allergy medication are some of her must haves. When you buy three qualifying first aid products at Target or, you get a free first-aid bag to organize it all in.


Rader also takes a moment to check in with herself and her own feelings. "I believe it's a lot easier to be calm when you are prepared for what's coming. Although our children love school right now and haven't gotten to the harder years yet, it's important that we keep a positive outlook and make sure to not pass on any anxiety or apprehension to them," she explains. "They can definitely feel our energy, so keeping it aligned with things like deep breathing, taking walks when necessary, pausing before reacting, and making time to fill our own cup are crucial for staying calm."

Last but not least, Rader ensures the school year feels just as fun as the summertime by planning a few festive weekly traditions: Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday. "Our family traditions are centered around food," she jokes. "On Tuesdays, we're usually joined by my mom, sister, and best friend for a fun evening. Then on Fridays, we take turns deciding where to order pizza from. Every now and then, we'll even make our own at home!" That way, there's always something to look forward to — no matter how the day's math test or soccer tryout went.


Shop Rader's BAND-AID® Brand Back-to-School Essentials

Credits: Design: Mia Coleman; Photography: Courtesy Gabrielle Flowers Rader