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"I have 3 kids under 7. Here's my very comprehensive parenting guide to making it through the school year."

Tylenol Kids
Thanks to our brand partner, Tylenol Kids

As a mother of three kids under seven, I know all too well the struggle to make it through the school year in, well, one piece. 

After doing this for years now, I'm starting to actually think parents are magicians. We have, what feels like, endless plates spinning all at once and it's our job to ensure not even one of them drops. 

But, as I'm sure all parents can relate, I have dropped one or two in my time, and I've come to accept that as an unavoidable reality of parenting. However, with every plate that dropped, came a new lesson, and with every new lesson came a much smoother year of school.

So, to help you minimise your own stress this year, here are my seven tips for making it through the school year. 

Keep the medicine cabinet stocked.

At the start of the school year, I make sure that I have all my medicine cabinet essentials on hand for any unexpected illnesses. 

There’s nothing worse than the 10pm dash to the late-night pharmacy because a cough is keeping one of the girls awake on a school night. 

My three essentials? Tylenol kids, Benadryl kids and Zyrtec kids.

Tylenol kids is particularly popular in our house, as it has a taste that my kids love and won’t spit out! It’s also gentle on little tummies, and provides fast and effective temporary relief from pains and fever.

When my girls get a cold, they tend to get an annoying cough that can hang around for weeks afterward. At night, a cough can keep little ones (and parents) awake for hours. 

Benadryl kids relieves that persistent cough and congestion in children aged 2+ which enables the kids to sleep better and be well-rested for school and pre-school.

Lastly, Zyrtec kids is my other medicinal must-have. It provides fast acting allergy relief from hay fever and allergy symptoms in children, such as sneezing, runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, hives and itchy skin rash. When our 7-year-old goes to her cousins' house for a sleepover, we always send Zyrtec kids with her, as it gives her relief from the itchy and watery eyes she gets from their cat.

By ensuring your medicine cabinet has the essentials, you can easily keep your children’s minor symptoms at bay so they can be well-rested and go back to school as soon as possible. 

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Get the kids involved.

Establish a positive routine that supports the smooth running of your mornings, afternoons and evenings. 

Children thrive on routine and love knowing what’s coming next, and what’s expected of them. It is helpful to put a checklist on the fridge for smaller children to help them remember what comes next in their routine. 

In the mornings, they may need to make their bed, pack their lunchbox and water bottle into their schoolbag, brush their teeth and wash their face, then put their shoes and socks on. 

In the afternoon they may need to unpack their schoolbags and put their lunchboxes in the kitchen. Whereas their evening routine may simply be bath, pyjamas, teeth, toilet and choosing a storybook. 

I find routines such as these help for the smoother running of the household, particularly when you have small children like I do.

Wherever you can, be organised in advance.

It does take a little bit of time to get organised, but it will be time well spent. 

I try and prepare school and pre-school lunchboxes the night before. I pack the main parts of the lunchboxes after the children are in bed, which takes me ten minutes at most. 

In the morning, I make the sandwiches and add them to the lunchboxes, then hand them over to the girls. It’s their responsibility to put their lunchboxes and water bottles into their schoolbags.

I also like to lay out uniforms, socks, undies and shoes the night before. This saves the time-consuming mad rush of trying to find missing items in the morning, which is a certain way to make my blood pressure rise on the spot.

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Don’t over-schedule after-school activities.

It can be tempting to enrol your child in multiple extracurricular activities after school.

I’ve discovered that there’s a fine balance between doing one or two activities that gives your child the chance to have a breather from schoolwork, and over-scheduling them completely. 

I would be particularly aware of this during a child’s first year of school, when they are getting used to their new environment and long days of learning.

However, I’ve noticed that even our older daughter needs downtime from any scheduled activities and likes to simply do nothing some days after school. 

She might play in the sandpit or on the trampoline or read books and do colouring. This downtime is so important for little people who spend every weekday following rules and instructions in a classroom environment.

Diarise dates as soon as you know them. 

School dates such as athletics carnival, school functions and student-free days will probably come though via the school newsletter. 

I put them on the calendar as I read the newsletter, as I’m likely to forget them otherwise. 

I also put birthday party dates and playdates up as I find them out, which eliminates the need to trawl through emails and text messages to find details closer to the time.

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Keep a weekly schedule.

Following on in the spirit of keeping track of dates, I keep a permanent weekly schedule on the fridge, which has all our standing commitments that we have each week. 

At a glance, I can see which days our eldest daughter needs to wear her sports uniform or take her library bag, and what afternoons she has extracurricular activities. 

It also has our middle daughter’s swimming and ballet lessons on it, and what days she has pre-school.

Set goals or rewards.

Children can sometimes be reluctant to go to school, or nervous about a big event like a speech or test.

I find that encouraging children with a little bit of a reward can go a long way. 

For example, if our daughter gets a great report in the middle and at the end of the year, she can choose an extra special activity to do with me – no dad or siblings allowed! 

She usually chooses going to the movies or going to lunch and getting our nails done, but it’s something she works towards and looks forward to.

The school year can be busy and often overwhelming, but it is also filled with exciting and special moments for your children. 

It is also totally survivable. By making sure that everyone is healthy, and with a little bit of pre-planning and organisation, you’ll find that the year will run much more smoothly.

Be prepared this school year with all the essentials — Tylenol kids for general pain relief, Benadrayl kids for coughs and colds, and Zyrtec kids for hay fever and allergies. To stock up, head to your local pharmacy. 

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

Tylenol Kids
Tylenol® is the world’s #1 paracetamol brand*. The Tylenol® kids range is available in participating pharmacies for babies 1 month – 2 years (24mg/ml) and children 2 years + (50mg/ml). This liquid suspension comes in a strawberry flavour – a taste kids will love with an easy dosing mess free syringe. Tylenol’s kids range is a fast and effective pain & fever reliever which is gentle on tiny tummies and relieves pain and discomfort associated with; immunisation, teething, earache, cold and flu symptoms and headache. Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Incorrect use could be harmful. Stay at home if you are feeling unwell. *OTC pain relief value sales, Nicholas Hall Global CHC database, DB6 2020.