Schools are very busy places all year round, but at Christmas time it can quickly become mind-boggling for parents to keep on top of everything their child needs to do in the busy run-up to Christmas.

There are plays, carol services, costumes to take to school, Christmas parties, charity donations, teacher presents, Christmas cards to make and write, sponsored Christmas jumper day, Christmas dinner day, Christmas concerts, Christmas fayres, and so on.

On top of normal busy family life and your own Christmas plans, it can all become a lot to juggle.

Here are some tips to keep you feeling on top and smiling this festive period:

Sign up to receive school letters by email

It is so easy to lose paper letters from school and then not have the information you need to hand. With an email, you can refer back to it and use the search function if needed.

If parental consent is needed for activities, reply to emails and complete any necessary forms straight away. The longer an email is left the more likely it is to be forgotten about. If you can’t reply to an email straight away, be sure to flag and pin it so you don’t forget to follow it up.

If you have a partner it can be really useful to set up a joint email account, for all school activities. This means that all school information goes to one email and can be found more easily by both of you.

Add events to your calendar straight away

Invest in a family calendar with space for all members of the family to record their events and keep it up to date. Make sure all members of the family are using it so there is no clash in plans.

Similarly, make use of the calendar on your phone, and set reminders for up and coming events. Share the calendar with your partner, so you can both see what is happening and when.

Set yourself reminders for key events, e.g. what time to leave the house to get to where you need to be on time.

Join the class WhatsApp group if there is one. It may contain a lot of messages, but it is a useful way to stay in touch with other parents and often gives regular reminders of important events. Other parents can be supportive when things get challenging or you have a question.

If you find that school life is hectic for a few weeks can that be balanced by freeing up some time outside school, perhaps at the weekends? It can be good for all family members to have a break from the daily grind.

Make the most of the information that the school provides

If your child’s school is asking you to provide things such as nativity costumes for your child’s play, try and organise the costumes as quickly as you can. The longer you leave it to organise, the harder it may become.

Liaise with other parents, does anyone have a costume from the previous year that they are not using this year? Can you borrow it?

Can you combine bits and bobs out of the dressing-up box to make a costume? Sometimes costumes don’t have to be complicated, simple can be best.

If you need to buy a costume, look on sites such as eBay or Vinted for nearly new bargains. Quite often nativity costumes have only been worn very lightly and are often in very good condition.

Give yourself time for anything to be delivered. Quite often at Christmas, there can be delays to the post which you need to take into account.

Keep an area at home for all school-related paperwork

In your house keep a command centre area for all school-related things, e.g. letters, clubs, spellings, homework, reading, logins for school apps, etc.

This could be a set of drawers, with one drawer per child. Or you might use a box for each child to place their school things in. Encourage your children to place school paperwork in this area as soon as they get in from school so that nothing is lost.

Sometimes less is more

Consider if all of the Christmas activities are essential. Some of the school activities will be optional, especially those extra-curricular Christmas activities. Does your child want to do them all? Or do they want some free time to unwind and just simply play? The benefits of free play cannot be underestimated all year round.

Stay in touch with the school

As with all things school related, if you have any questions or concerns about anything, school staff and teachers will be happy to talk to you and help you in any way that they can. Don’t be afraid of approaching the school to talk to them, whether it’s over email, the phone or face-to-face. You may need to make an appointment to speak to someone, but the school will want to know if you have a concern or question, so don’t be put off. A good partnership with your child’s school can help all parties involved. Everyone wants the same thing, which is a happy and healthy school experience for your child.

So go forth and enjoy the Christmas season and remember all we can do is our best. There is a lot to handle at Christmas and your best is good enough.