The lazy/busy parent's guide to pretending you're really involved at school.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Amart Sports

As parents, we all go into the new school year with the best of intentions (and let’s face it, an almighty need for some “alone” time). We also all firmly believe we’ll be that ‘Super Mum’. The one who sends a packed, nutritious lunch that won’t somehow destroy both our child’s gut lining, or the ozone layer each day. We also vow to never, EVER forget to dress their child up as their favourite Book Week character. Because what kind of parent would do that to their child? Oh right, that might be me…

So it’s fair to say I’m not entirely on top of the whole being a ‘Super Mum’ thing. I would like to think though, that as a busy working mother of three, I do have some wonderful ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ strategies to get me through, especially when it comes to being involved with the kids schooling.

To combat my complete inability to be everywhere at once, I’ve come up with a few ways to make it look as though, to the keen outside observer, I have this back to school parenting thing all under control.

1. Buy new shoes.

While the school uniforms might not be ironed, you can at least get the kids good-fitting, comfortable school and sports shoes. Doesn’t sound like a big deal right? But if you cast your mind way (way) back to when you were a kid, nothing spelt ‘first day at school’ like the smell of new shoes. And to the teacher’s eyes, they see a kid ready to start the new year. Even if they do have dry taco shells for lunch because you forgot to buy fresh bread…

how to be involved in school
“If you cast your mind way (way) back to when you were a kid, nothing spelt ‘first day at school’ like the smell of new shoes.” Image: iStock.

2. Volunteering at the school canteen. At least in the first semester.

Sure, this might not be sustainable throughout all of the year but let me tell you, I doubt there is a moment your child is prouder than when they see you behind the canteen counter. And I know, god how I know, that this isn’t an easy task for everyone, especially if you work or have smaller children. But even if you can turn up a few times at the beginning of the year, it’s a win. And sure, each time I’ve done this, I’ve monumentally screwed something up (overcooked all of the footy franks or given away too many free slushees to adorable preps before checking they had the correct money, etc) but each time, my face has been clocked by parents and teachers alike, and was seen as an ‘involved parent’. Even if I wasn’t exactly welcomed back…

3. Make your child’s Book week costume spectacular.

Step 1, make sure you remember that it is in fact, Book week. This will prevent you from sending your child to school on this day in their school uniform and having to make up some BS excuse about them being ‘that school kid from that book’. Having your child turn up in a kick-arse book week costume is sure to win you brownie points with not only your child but their teacher and other smug parents. This really doesn’t take a whole lot of preparation when it comes down to it and you don’t have to be Martha Stewart and whip one up yourself on the Singer the night before (thankfully because I have NO idea how to sew). Simply head on down to the costume shop and hire out a Where’s Wally? Costume or something equally impressive and you’ll be a hero. Lazy, possibly, but enough? Definitely.

how to be involved in school
“Having your child turn up in a kick-arse book week costume is sure to win you brownie points with not only your child but their teacher and other smug parents.” Image via iStock.

4. Prep a calendar of all the events on your fridge.

The best way to pass off the illusion that you have everything under control, at least to your children and/or visitors, is to have something visual, something everyone can see, discuss and admire, outlining the upcoming school commitments. The calendar of weekly events that is penciled in and displayed in your kitchen is an amazing way to start the year in control. This will (in theory) prevent you from sending your child to school in their school uniform when the rest of the class has turned up for free dress. Sure, the updating of this will probably go downhill within the first term, but at least you start out with good intentions.

5. Be present at the swimming/athletics carnival.

Again, I KNOW this can be an almost impossible ask but if there is one day you should/can chuck a sickie during the year, it should be for this.  Even if you can just come for their event, you’ll be a hero and your presence will be doing both of you a favour.

As a busy parent it’s not easy to be everywhere at all times, but hopefully, with just a few of these strategies in place, even as a mum who can’t always show their face in the schoolyard, you’ll be known to be an involved parent.

Good luck!

Are there any other parent schooling tips we’ve missed?

Some laughs might make the back-to-school period a bit easier…