Remember how ready we were to get out of school last May? We are even more ready to send the kids back this September! And as nice as it is to have the house a little quieter and the kids occupied, the new school year does mean some adjustment on our part as moms. School can be a lot to stay on top of! So start the year right by following these 3 essential tips…
When you have a lot to do, routines really get the job done. It a great way to automate behavior, like setting our bills up on bill pay. Once we can establish a habit or system, tasks get done consistently and without as much effort.
So when it comes to back to school, there is one routine that is a must: the after school routine. Even though the kids are ready for a break from the structured day at school, training them to take just a few minutes when they get home to do some essential things can make the rest of the night go so much more smoothly. So keep it simple – but smart.
- Empty the backpack. Nothing is worse than opening that backpack up right before bedtime and realizing there’s a homework assignment to do! (We’ve all been there!) Have a designated spot for homework and papers to sign (see below for a tip on this.) Now at least you know what you’re dealing with for homework time. No surprises.
- Hang the backpack up
- And then it’s up to you. Do they have a snack, pack their lunch for the next day, start their homework, do a job around the house, or run out and play? It looks different or every family. (At our house, washing your hands after school is a crucial part of the routine!) The key is to establish an after-school routine that accommodates your priorities – accountability with homework, a nutritious snack, a home responsibility, or whatever it might be.
THG Tip: Get everyone on board with the same routine by printing it out. You can even store the paper in a sheet protector, so kids can check the tasks each day and you can reuse the chart again tomorrow. And if you really love routines, don’t forget how valuable a night routine (lay out the school clothes, pack the backpack) or a morning routine (make your bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack your lunch) can be!
Create a Family Calendar
When school starts up, so do all the after-school activities. The hustle and bustle of carpools, practices, and lessons can be a huge source of chaos and stress, especially during the transition from summer to fall. It’s not hard to get overwhelmed – or even lose track of certain activities all together. (There have been plenty of times we have completely missed a practice or a game, just because there too much to remember!)
The solution for us has been to have a large family calendar hung in a visible place so everyone can see it. It doesn’t just benefit me; I’ve found that when my children can see what they have during the week, they can better set their expectations about playing and relaxing. So even though you might have it all in your phone, try a family calendar. I love this one from Amazon. The dry erase means I can use the same calendar each month, and I love that it’s nice and big to accommodate all the different activities. Click HERE to check it out.
THG Tip: Use different colored markers for each child so they can easily identify their own activities. And the kitchen is a great central location where everyone can check in on their schedules each day.
Keep Track of the Homework
The stacks of paper are inevitable…important papers need to be signed, homework needs to be done – and it isn’t just the kids’ papers, either. There are plenty of our own papers that require payment, followup, and other processing. All of these things feel frightening to put away – we might forget about it or never find it again. So here’s one of my favorite solutions: the Action System. This desk top file system is for any paper that needs some action taken on it. It stays out in the open so you don’t forget about it, and gives a separate file to each type of paper so it isn’t lost.
THG Tip: Create a folder for each member of the family, even the baby. Everyone has papers they need to return to school, work, the doctor’s office, etc. Also make categories for other typical action paper that shows up (bills to pay, tasks to do, a regular volunteer role.) Homework, papers you need to make a phone call or send an email about, some project you are working on or event you need to plan – this doesn’t have to be counter clutter anymore!
Want more tips?
For more tips on helping kids organizing their school paper, SEE THIS POST. Artwork and special projects become a category of paper clutter all their own, and THIS POST is full of tips to help you know the best way to handle it.
Any essential organizing tips you swear by for back to school? Please share them below!