Back to school time is upon us and the best way to have a smooth transition to the hectic school year is to get organized and plan ahead. Today I thought I’d share a few simple tips and tools to help you have a smoother transition and hopefully a less stressful school year.
Establish a Bed Time Routine
Bed time routines aren’t just for babies and toddlers. we all benefit from a wind down period before heading off to dreamland. Make a list of what needs to happen nightly before your child goes to bed-bath, prayers, story, choose clothes for the next day, homework, pack lunch, organize backpack etc. This list is up to you. Kids ages 5-12 need 10-12 hours a sleep for their bodies to adequately recharge while 13-18 year olds need 8-10 hours of sleep. Make sure you plan your bedtime routine to insure your child gets enough sleep.
Once you have created your list and chosen an appropriate bedtime, work backwards from that bedtime and figure out how long your bedtime routine is going to take (usually about an hour). Start introducing your child to the bedtime routine 1-2 weeks before school starts so that they will become used to the routine and thus more comfortable with the procedure. Kids thrive on structure and when they know it is time to start winding down they will enjoy their bedtime routine and so will you.
Another way to make school time easier is to prepare the night before. If your kids are in elementary school and go to bed early then you can pack lunches, set out their clothes and organize backpacks once they are in bed. Everything you can accomplish the night before makes the mornings go more smoothly.
Establish a Morning Routine
A morning routine is just as important as a bedtime routine. A smooth morning at home sets the tone for the entire day. You can structure your routine to suit your family but a few suggestions include doing some breakfast menu planning so you know what is for breakfast each morning, this also eliminates everyone asking for something different, you can have cold cereal and juice one day, bagels and peanut butter another etc. Make sure the routine includes getting dressed, brushing hair and teeth and any morning chores. Again, work on this for a few weeks before school starts and make sure you wake the children in time to accomplish everything in a calm manner before it is time to leave for school.
Create a Central Calendar and Message Center
Have a central spot with a calendar that has plenty of room for each family member’s activities. This should be kept near a file box where you can have a file for each person’s important papers. When a paper comes home from school, sports, church etc immediately write the info on the calendar and file the paper in that person’s file folder for future reference. That way as an event nears you can pull out the paper and check if there is anything you are supposed to bring to the event or if there is a cost involved. Having a central calendar also cuts down on overlapping schedules and makes it easier for everyone to see what the day/week looks like. I like to use a calendar that has spaces for each family member’s schedule or I use a different color for each person to help keep our schedules straight.
I like to spend some time on Sunday evening going over the week ahead’s schedule with my husband. This way we can work together to help make the week run smoothly and make notes of who is carting which kid where, who is cooking dinner which nights and any evening meetings or events we have where childcare might be needed at home. It usually takes about a half an hour but it sure saves time and reduces stress during the week.
I’m sure there are lots of other tips out there so please share yours in the comments section!