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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

7 Imperfect Lessons for a Great School Start

It’s that time again. Anxi-o-meters across the country are reaching record highs as parents prepare for the new school year. And while special needs parenting experts have all kinds of advice to ensure a shining start, special parents living in the trenches have some pretty solid advice of their own.  Here are 7 smart tips gathered from Patty and Gina on the “imperfect street.”

  1. Stretch before dancing at the bus stop. After a long summer, you may be a little excited about getting a break from your kids. In fact, years ago, we posted a blog about Massachusetts Mom, Tracy Moutafis, who earned national attention for dancing at the bus stop at the start of each school year. If you feel the need to channel your inner Tracy and cheer, breakdance, or cartwheel, be sure to avoid Gina’s mistake and stretch before to avoid injury.
  2. Stay current on your Internet bill.  You may not be an Algebra expert, but you can certainly play one on Google to get those homework answers. Also, don’t be afraid to put your social networks to good use.  Ask that engineer friend to do you a square and help with geometry or that ski pro friend to help calculate slope.
  3. Choose your Emergency Contact wisely. Try to select a responsible, patient person whom the school can call in your absence — a person who will not fold under difficult circumstances or attempt to enter the Witness Protection program. 
  4. Organize your voicemail. This will make managing your messages and sorting through those school calls much easier. For example:
    • “‘Press 1, if you’re the Pharmacy.”
    • “Press 2 if you’re my child’s attorney.”
    • “Press 3, if you’re the school calling with bad news.'”
  5. Clear out filing space. An organized special parent is a successful one, so make sure you organize and file important legal paperwork, such as IEPs, evaluations, progress reports, rights’ brochures, as well as documentation for any new lawsuits that may arise as a result of your child’s behavior. Consider converting a spare bedroom, renting a storage bay, or emptying out that pool that no one seems to use anymore.
  6. Approve your child’s clothes the night before. This is especially important if you have children with sensory issues, or even worse, teenage daughters. Nothing warrants a school call like a tube top or a translucent pair of leggings worn over “Lucky You” conversation underwear. (Not that this happened to Gina or anything.)
  7. Stay current on your lunch bills. If your child is going to purchase lunch, be sure to send in the money in advance. It will help you avoid added stress and those awkward questions from your child, such as “Mommy, why is the lunch lady parked outside our house?” Plus, unpaid lunch bills have a way of cropping up later in life. “Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, we have to deny your mortgage request. It seems you have unexplained past due Taco Tuesday debt.”

Do you have an imperfect tip you’d like to add? Go ahead… share with the imperfect group. 

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