It’s that time again – the beginning of a new school year.
Whether your kids have already gone back to school or they start in a few weeks, you probably have a mile-high to-do list.
Going back to school does not have to be stressful – in fact, the whole family will have fun with these tips to stay sane.
There’s an old mom joke that we can’t wait to get our kids back to school and have them out of our hair for the day.
But, let’s face it, the school year comes with a whole new list of things that need to be taken care of each day. Lunches, homework, papers to sign, and of course all those new clothes and supplies.
You can make it fun for the whole family – yes, even mom and dad – with some fun ways to stay organized and avoid the mad morning rush and stressful evenings. And the best part? The kids will help!
Above all, get organized!
All moms know that school mornings can be a drag for everyone. Gone are the days of summertime sleeping in and taking our time getting started with the day.
The key to sane mornings is preparing the night before – or preparing for the full week each weekend.
Yes, we know, the last thing we want to do at the end of a long day is to do more, but you will thank yourself for your effort the next morning (especially those of you who are not morning people – you know who you are!).
All. Those. Papers.
Before the start of the school year, set up a “command center.” No, this doesn’t have to be one of those Pinterest-perfect walls of boards and calendars, but the general idea is a good one.
Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can set up a small organization center in the kitchen, by the front door, or even on the side of the refrigerator.
Dry-erase calendars work great because we all know that plans and activities can change at a moment’s notice. Buy a pack of dry-erase markers and assign each child a color. If your child can write, make sure they add any activity or assignment for the next day as soon as they come home from school while it is still fresh in their mind.
A small filing basket (they even make magnetic ones that attach to the fridge) is the perfect place for papers and other reminders. Grab a pack of colorful file folders and give each child “their” color – the same color they use on the dry-erase board.
These can be labeled for each day of the week, as well as one for things that have to go back to school the next day. And, mom, you get a color too!
Have the kids put any papers that need to be immediately signed in your folder when they get home from school. We’ve all been “that” mom who is running their child to the bus stop in our p.j.s while we try to sign forgotten papers and permission slips during our mad dash.
“You are not wearing that to school!”
Ah, the rush to find something to wear each morning. This fight can be avoided by setting outfits aside each weekend for the week ahead. Yes, that means the impossible task of having a full week of clean clothes done each weekend, but it’s well worth it.
Have the kids help pick out the outfits they want to wear during the school week and get them folded and set aside. You can either label gallon-sized ziploc bags, one for each day of the week, or purchase dollar store plastic baskets (again, they can be in your child’s assigned color).
Each day’s outfit can be put together and set in the closet for the week ahead. And include everything – yes, everything – they may need to easily get ready in the morning. Socks, hair ties and bows, and even those shoes that always get lost. Have the kids put their shoes away in the same spot every night because, of course, we’ve all been there too – rushing to find a missing shoe as the bus is pulling up.
Is a hot trend right now, and it applies to school lunches as well! When you’re getting all those clothes together for the week, you and the kids can take some time to get a head start on the week’s lunches.
Have them portion out some snacks like crackers, dried fruit, etc. in snack-sized ziploc bags for each day of the week and keep them in their own basket in the pantry or cabinet. Fruits and veggies that keep well, like grapes, celery, and carrots can also be portioned out ahead of time and placed in a special bin in the refrigerator for the week ahead.
Each night while you’re making dinner (or eating delivery pizza) the kids can pack non-perishable items in their lunchboxes and help make sandwiches or other main dishes for the next day. They can even help by cutting out their sandwiches in fun shapes with cookie cutters or put peanut butter or salad dressing in a small container for dipping veggies.
Any way the kids can safely help is fun for them and makes the process easier for us!
And don’t forget – making and freezing an extra batch of waffles, pancakes, or healthy muffins on a Sunday morning is a great way to solve the problem of making sure they eat something before school.
Homework is probably everyone’s most dreaded task each night. But it, too, can be made fun for the family.
No kid likes sitting alone at the kitchen table doing homework while everyone else is off doing something else. And while it is hard to take an hour out of our evenings while we’re trying to make dinner and everything else to get ourselves ready for the next day, sitting with your child makes all the difference.
After all, you know once you get involved in a task, they’re going to be shouting “Mooooommmm!” every five minutes anyway!
If you have the space, create a cozy homework spot somewhere in the house. A corner of your home office or even the living room is a lot more fun than sitting at a table alone and also designates a spot that is not used for anything else.
Buy some beanbag chairs and those inexpensive lap-desks that many retailers are selling right now, or a child-sized desk with a comfy chair and a fun lamp so the kids have a cozy spot to work.
Place a basket of picture books in the homework area so preschoolers can read or have quiet time while their siblings work. And, Mom, put a cozy chair nearby, grab a book and a cup of coffee (or….a glass of wine) and keep them company while being available to help when needed.
Get creative in making homework a game. Small candies or raisins can be used to help with counting, you can set a timer to go through flashcards and then give the kids a small prize if they beat their time…there are so many ways to break through the boredom of studying.
Have a designated time for homework – it is always best to get it out of the way so everyone can relax for the evening. And keep a basket of extra school supplies handy to refill backpacks each night so the kids are fully prepared for the next day.
Homework time will go much faster and be far less frustrating when the whole family sits together to support each other and get it done!
No matter how organized you are, obviously, things are not always going to go smoothly. Things will be forgotten or lost, you’ll run out of juice boxes for lunch, or those shoes will inevitably disappear in the morning.
But by having a system in place and creating a weekly routine that the whole family does their best to follow, we promise, it will be at least a little bit easier!
Homeschool moms – these ideas are also perfect ways to keep your homeschool running smoothly and on schedule. While you may not be as pressed for time as a public school parent, it is always wise to keep the kids on a routine and carve out specific times for school.