As we were heading off the beach yesterday for the last time this summer, there was a lot of pouting and whining. Here is where I have to admit that most of it came from me. You see, today is not only the first day of school, but it marks the end of care free summer days and the start of school routines. While routine is not a bad thing, for some of us it is a hard transition in those first days. Here are a few tips to help get into the swing of things.
Prepare the night before. This is both a challenge and a blessing in our house. Our evenings are usually quite full of activity and so taking a few minutes to prepare for the next day is something we have to consciously make time for. However, our mornings are quite early and so it makes a huge difference when the backpacks are packed and by the front door, lunches are made, and the clothes are laid out for an easy grab.
Inform your kids of the schedule. This might seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how little they are paying attention to what day it is or what we may have forgotten to tell them. We can’t expect our kids to be ready for the day’s agenda if they don’t know what the day holds! Make sure they know that as soon as they get off the bus they have to hop in the car for the orthodontist, or whatever it is that is on your calendar.
Let your kids take the lead. For those of us that like to be in control this one may be a little hard. However, I found that my kids are quite capable of getting themselves ready for their day with little interference from me. They have fallen into a symbiotic routine in the mornings that works for them and I actually throw them off when I’m around. Of course, this is going to vary from kid to kid, and some may need a little more supervision or guidance than others, but encourage them to figure out the routine that works best for them, not the one you think works best for them.
Set up after school expectations. Do you want your kids to come home and immediately start their homework or are you one that is fine with them kicking back for an hour first? Who is responsible for walking the dog? Whatever it is, make sure it is discussed with your kids and not just assumed they will do it.
Establish an evening routine. In our home, this varies from night to night based on activities. However, establishing a reasonable bed time is important for kids and parents alike. My goal for this year is to not be screaming at 10pm to go to bed. I want them to be gradually winding down and heading for lights out in a calm manner.
Meal Plan for the week. Some people cringe when they hear “meal plan,” but I’ve always wondered how you can grocery shop without some sort of idea of what you are making for dinner for the week. No matter how loose or formal your meal plan is, write it down. This is one of the most important things in my week because I find when I’m not running around stressing over what to feed the kids, all of our evening routines go better. I take a look at my week and see what nights I have time to cook and what nights will need a military strategist to get us all fed. For the most part, I know Tuesdays and Thursdays are our busiest nights, so I plan quick and easy meals, or something in the crock pot that everyone can grab when they can while on Wednesdays, I have time to cook a “nicer meal."
What are your best tips for getting into a back to school routine?