by Lisa Edwards, Parent Coach
The school year is very hectic and stressful once every family member has their own schedule filled with various activities. Usually it is left to us to be the chief planner of the household. Here are 7 steps to make school routines simple so that your life is less stressful and you can enjoy every moment!
The Biggest Secret
You don’t have to live a Pinterest life
Alright, I love Pinterest. I mean who doesn’t? It is full of awesome recipes, crafts and activities for everyone in your family. But sometimes, it can be overwhelming. For instance, take a moment and search family command centers. I had not even heard of these before, and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. If only, I could be that organized. I wish! First rule of simplifying…know that you don’t have to live the life on Pinterest. It is great for ideas, but then you need to make it work for you. The following are 7 basic ideas for you to implement…and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
7 Tips to Make School Routines Simple
- Have a designated spot in your house for homework materials. I have a bucket kept near our dining room table, which is where the kids are inclined to sit and do their homework. This bucket includes extra pencils (mechanical, because they never need sharpening), crayons, glue, and scissors. This keeps us pretty much prepared for anything. In this bucket goes any lists or study sheets the kids need to work on throughout the week. For example, spelling lists. We study the list and then it goes back in the bucket.
- Kids empty their backpacks in the same spot every day after school. My kids know to unpack at the kitchen table. This tends to be the hub for activity in our house. Kids have a hard time knowing what they need to give you or keep, so when they empty in the same location, then it is my job to sit with my child and go through the table and determine what we need to keep, what we need to read, and what can go straight into recycling. Whatever needs to be kept or sent back to school, gets put right back into the backpack or a designated spot by me. **Side note, I learned early on that we can’t keep every project, and the kids know it too. We discuss what they think is important to keep in their memory box, which is only about 5-7 projects for the entire year.
- Morning Routine – Personal electronics have become a huge distraction in our household and slows everyone down. (Myself included, since I wake up reading emails, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) For your child it might be toys or the TV. We make a rule that when you are woken up, you need to get ready by dressing, taking care of hygiene, eating breakfast, and then packing your backpack and setting it by the door with your coat and shoes right there, before they can even touch their electronics. Even though we have a mud room for storage of backpacks, shoes, and coats, the kids need to make their own ready to go pile. This keeps us from hunting down that missing right shoe at the last moment. They also need to make sure they have everything in their backpack that they need.
- Teach kids how to make their own lunches. This is best practiced in the summer or on weekends when you aren’t pressured for time. Have the kids start making their own lunch and determining what should be included. Trust me, the first few times they do this, they will move slow as molasses. And it will drive you insane. But, putting in this time to teach them, will give you back extra time when they are able to do this on their own.
- Have a family calendar and then have family meetings to discuss every week. Yes, I wish I had a beautiful calendar for the wall that added to my messy mom chic decor. But I have found that I just need it to be useful. The best solution so far, is the big desk calendar that has enough room to take notes in it. This calendar hangs on the wall in our mudroom, but to be honest, if we didn’t have the mudroom, I would hang it in the kitchen, living room, etc. It keeps our family organized. My husband works varied hours and sometimes I have meetings in the evenings. All of this gets put on the calendar along with kids activities, even if they happen at the same time every week. Then on Sunday night, we have a short family meeting, where we discuss everything happening that week. It usually only takes about 5 minutes or so, but we read the calendar and discuss where everyone needs to be each day. As with everyone, some weeks are crazier than others.
- Have a meal plan for the week. The last thing to spend your mental energy on when you are tired in the evenings, is trying to figure out what to make for dinner. A meal plan is the perfect solution. Here you can read how I have a very simple meal plan that is super easy to use. Just remember to think about your week’s activities as you plan the meals for the week. And stay flexible.
- Regular Bedtime Routines. As your children grow and become involved in more activities, the evenings become busier. There are definitely times you aren’t sure when you will get to bed. In fact, in my hometown we have children in hockey with limited access to ice rinks, and sometimes practice for 9 year olds can be until 9pm or later. Yikes! Although evenings are varied, there usually is a similar routine that happens at night so that they know when bedtime is coming. Consider what routine works the best for your family and be consistent. We always have electronics turned off 30 minutes before I want lights out. During this 30 minutes they have to first brush teeth and get ready for bed. Then if they have extra time, they can play with non-electronic toys, read, etc. This is a wind down time for them. After those 30 minutes, at a young age we had them turn out their lights and try to fall asleep. As they got older, after those 30 minutes, they can stay up later, but they have to be reading, and they had control over when they turned their lights off. Giving them this control led them to not fight turning out their lights or asking for 10 more minutes. We started this around 2nd grade and it has worked very well. The key is consistency. They know what to expect, which leads to less stress for them and for me.
By making your school routines simple, and thinking about the main ideas behind those perfect Pinterest ideas, you too, can make your weeks easier. Tell us how you make your school routines easy in the comments below or join our Facebook discussion.
Do you need help with your routines? A Parent Coach can help you set up school routines to simplify your life. Click here for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.