When it comes to establishing a back to school routine, it’s important to keep it simple. They are kids after all. 😉 A back to school routine should be simple so that it alleviates stress instead of adding more!
It can be tempting when you are type-A and want to have control (like me!) to create systems for EVERY. THING. Resist the urge! If you have systems for your systems, it’s too complicated. Your kids will only be frustrated, and you will always be disappointed.
First of all, think about what stresses you out about the back to school time and create routine around that. Is it school papers all over the house? Create a place for all of those papers to go. Is it fighting with your kids over what to pack in their lunch? Set up clear rules and make it easy for them to find what they can pack. And of course, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 😉
Second, clearly communicate the plan. Don’t expect your family to read your mind, and don’t expect your kindergartener to follow the routine as well as your third grader. That seems obvious, but I’ve been guilty of this so many times. It’s important to have grace and give them time to learn the new back to school routine or system.
Third, be consistent in enforcing the new routine. You will probably have to do this for a little while until the new routine becomes habit. You will need to remind, encourage, and support for the first few weeks at least (depending on their age/abilities).
To get you started, I want to share with you four ways you can create a simple (uncomplicated!) back to school routine. These four ideas will work for any family with school-aged kids.
Four Ways to Create a Simple Back to School Routine
1. Don’t fill up your schedule.
Please, please, please leave space in your schedule. If you don’t, you will always be in a hurry, always be stressed, and always be late (or almost late).
Also, make sure you have time as a family built in, as well as time for everyone to decompress. I know this is really hard, especially if you have multiple kids.
Do your best to keep their schedules simple. Try having them pick only their favorite one or two activities. They will be happier only doing what they love, and you will be happier with less driving around and scrambling every evening and weekend.
I used to have to learn this the hard way. I would over-commit, say yes to things I didn’t really want to do, then find myself back-tracking and backing out of my responsibilities half way through the school year.
Don’t pull a me…try to be intentional with your time from the beginning.
2. Create a place for everything.
I mean everything. Make sure there’s a clear place for your kids to put/find their backpacks, lunch boxes, and school papers.
When they know where things go and get used to putting them there, you will have so much less to pick up later. And you won’t be screaming at each other every morning trying to find their homework. (Please tell me this wasn’t just us?!)
Find a spot that works for your family and home, clearly communicate it, and help them stick to it until it becomes habit.
I like having a place for backpacks, jackets, and shoes by the door where they come in from school. Having them by the door makes it easiest for them to follow through with the system instead of simply dumping their stuff on the floor by the door.
I also have one spot in the kitchen where they can find their lunchbox, thermos, and water bottle. School papers go in a hanging file labeled with their names.
3. Designate a time and place for doing homework.
For some of you, the time your kids do homework may change every day based on your schedule, but try to make it as consistent as possible. They are more likely to begin doing homework without ever being asked if they know exactly what is expected of them and when.
Our kids do their homework right after having a quick snack as soon as they’re home from school. This way, they have incentive to get it done. They know that they have to finish their homework before they can watch TV or go outside to play with friends.
In addition, make sure your kids have a quiet place to do homework where they won’t be distracted.
My youngest doesn’t really have homework yet, but we read to her every day. I try to do this when her siblings are doing homework so the house is at its quietest. Sometimes we read at the dining room table, and sometimes we cuddle up on the couch.
My older two have a work space in their bedrooms for them to quietly do homework. My son has a desk, and my daughter (the artsy one) has a table. Now we’re working on trying to keep these spaces clear so that they aren’t distracted from what needs to get done. 😉
4. Create a system for school lunch assembly.
Unless packing lunches is something you LOVE doing for your kids, you can stop. 😉 Your kids are able to pack their own lunch!
Even your youngest school-aged children are capable of packing their own lunch. Trust me. You’ll want to delegate this to your kids when you see how easy it can be. And, with a little help, you can ensure they are packing a healthy, balanced meal.
The key here is to create a system. If you already have a spot for their lunch box, water bottle, thermos, Tupperware, ziplock, etc., you are already halfway there.
The next thing you need for your system is a place in the fridge and pantry (where your kids can reach) to find their meal options for the week. Keep it simple with only two or three options each week.
They will be happy to repeat lunches as long as you picked foods they enjoy. I try to always include a beverage, a fruit or veggie, a protein, something dairy, and sometimes a grain. That way, they know to grab one of each, and they always have a balanced meal!
What part of back-to-school time causes your family the most stress? Is there an area you would like me to cover in a blog post? Let me know in the comments! 🙂