When the kids return to school, things can be chaotic around the house.
Just like I posted about working moms and the summer, it’s time to turn our attention to the next season: back to school.
Since my kids are beyond this at 21 and 23, I scoured the web for the best ideas on how to:
- develop routines
- get organized
- manage work
There’s a lot here, so I encourage you to pick the one area that you could use the most help in and start exploring there. After all, the last thing we need is more overwhelm!
Back to School: Routines
I know some people aren’t real keen on routines, but the research shows that routines give children a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.
Here are some great articles on setting up morning routines, after-school routines, and evening routines.
Morning routines are about getting the basics out of the way and getting everyone out the door on-time and relatively unfrazzled! This article from Parenting magazine covers everything from when to wake up, what to do first, breakfast tips and teaching life lessons (yes, even in the morning!).
I never thought much about an after-school routine, but apparently it’s a good idea, too (who knew??). In a post by The Confident Mom, she talks about having an immediate as-soon-as-you-walk-in-the-door routine as well as “reading” your child to figure out if play time, snack time or homework time should be next on the agenda.
And last but not least is that evening wind-down routine. I give a lot of credence to an article on MomOf6.com. My gosh, six kids means she HAS to know what she’s doing, right? This short piece covers the after dinner to hop-in-bed time frame.
Back to School: Organization
When you’re juggling a house, a job, and children, it’s important to be organized. After all, who’s got extra time to spend looking for stuff?
But the school year brings extra challenges when it comes to getting kids dressed, packing them a lunch and tracking all that homework.
I’m actually jealous that Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet when my kids were little! There are some fantastic ideas out there!
First, this article from Organize and Decorate Everything gives four different ways to organize kids outfits for the school week. I gave it top honors, since it’s sponsored by Dollar General, and all the solutions are cheap! For those crafty moms out there, this project uses the same idea of outfits for the week, but uses a dresser drawer instead of closet space.
On to those pesky school lunches. I’m proud to say that, despite my lack of digital resources, I used this idea from iHeart Organizing when my kids were little. The basic idea is bins in the pantry AND the fridge that are grab and go lunches. Then, as the kids get older, they can make their own in minutes! Not to mention, they knew what food was off limits for snacking, too.
And finally, there is organizing the papers and homework that comes home. There are hundreds of beautiful crafty solutions out there, but, let’s face it. Whose got time for dat?
So I went with this idea from makinglemonade.com. It’s simple, small and portable and perfect for the younger kiddies. When they get a little older, this article from school-giant Scholastic helps them get organized AND start planning projects ahead of time. Just think…no more late night panic projects!
Bonus Tip: Plan takeout or leftovers for the first day of school and let everyone know you’ll spend your evening filling out back-to-school forms
Back to School: Manage Work
Just because our personal lives get chaotic around back to school season, those pesky jobs just keep rolling along! I found many articles and blog posts that included tips in them, but surprisingly few that focused on this issue. So here are the best of what’s out there from a variety of sources.
- If you can, plan your work so that you have a lighter load a week before school starts, and for the first week (from inPower Coaching)
- Talk to your boss about the temporary craziness (see this article on 4 Tips for Talking Work-Life Balance with your Boss)
- Put back-up childcare in place early
This last one is probably the most critical, especially when you have to fill in those emergency contact cards for the school. I was lucky. I had my mother, my mother-in-law, and a neighbor as my possibilities when my kids were younger. At one time or another, I utilized all of them, which let me keep my focus on my job when situations arose. This article on care.com gives 6 options you can investigate. And I think it would make a nice addition to that conversation with your boss in #2 above!
Back to school means a lot of changes in the household, and like everything, forewarned is forearmed. What area do you need help with?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: I like having conversations with kids. Grownups never ask me what my third favorite reptile is!