When establishing a back-to-school routine, it’s essential to keep it simple. They are kids, after all. A back-to-school routine should be simple to alleviate 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 everything. Resist the urge! If you have systems for your systems, it’s too complicated. Your kids will be frustrated, and you will always be disappointed.
How to Create a Simple Back-To-School Routine
Routines help establish a set of must-do activities and blocks of time. They make you successful in doing what you need to do and accomplishing your family’s goals. They’ll help you save time and stress. So, let’s start with how to create a simple back-to-school routine that everyone will love.
- Think about what stresses you about the back-to-school time and create a routine.
The point of the routine is to make life easier–no more stressful. Take a moment to think about what causes you stress. Is it a priority? What can you do to minimize these things?
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 clear rules and make it easy for them to find what they can fill in. And, of course, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- Think about how much time you have.
Next, you’ll need to think about how much time you have throughout the day. Do you have an hour in the morning and two hours in the evening to get everything done? How long are the kids in school? How long do they have to wait for the bus?
Knowing how much time you have will allow you to make a plan that is reasonable and feasible. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Be honest and realistic about how much time you have and what you need to do.
- List the tasks you need to do and fill in your schedule.
When is the best time to tidy the house, pack lunches, and exercise? Don’t forget to add their after-school activities and everything you want to be a part of. When is the best time to help with homework? What is the best time for family bonding? There are no right or wrong answers here. Be honest about what tasks you need to do.
Tips to Make Your Back-To-School Routine Easy and Realistic
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, ensure you have time as a family built in and 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 more satisfied 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 want to do, and then back-tracked and back out of my responsibilities halfway through the school year.
Don’t be like 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 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 a 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 most effortless 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 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 the 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 have homework yet, but we read to her daily. I try to do this when her siblings are doing homework, so the house is quiet. Sometimes we read at the dining room table, and sometimes we cuddle on the couch.
My older two have a workspace in their bedrooms to quietly do homework. My son has a desk, and my daughter (the artsy one) has a table. Now we’re working on keeping these spaces clear so they aren’t distracted from what needs to be 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 can 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 some help, you can ensure they pack 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 if you pick 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 always have a balanced meal!
5. 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 many times. It’s important to have grace and give them time to learn the new back-to-school routine or system.
6. Be Consistent in Enforcing the New Routine.
You will probably have to do this for a while until the new routine becomes a habit. You will need to remind, encourage, and support everyone for the first few weeks at least (depending on their age/abilities). It takes 21 days for something to become habit.
7. Get Up Early.
Wake up early to get a start before everyone else. You need to take care of you first. Try meditating or exercising first thing in the morning to clear your mind. Then, wake the family.
8. Be Flexible.
Routines are great but they’re not everything. Be flexible. There will be times when you can’t stick to the routine. You can plan ahead for how you’ll handle those days. But you’ll need to quickly adapt and move on.
9. Start the Night Before
Take a look at your schedule the night before so you can make pans on what you need to do the following day. You can save time by laying out clothes for the next day, packing lunches, and making sure the kids put all of their school work stuff together. The less you have to do in the morning the better.
10. Protect Time for Yourself
Protect time for yourself. Perhaps it’s time to exercise or read. Maybe you want to take a course. The point is you need to do something for you too. Take time for yourself and you’ll be happier. Naturally you’ll see an improvement in your productivity.
Get Back-To-School Without Stress
Going back to school after a quick summer doesn’t have to be stressful. Go ahead and make a back-to-school routine and try a few of these tips to get you started.