How can it already be time to start thinking about the kids going back to school? I know there are still a few weeks left, but it’s hard to believe that the middle of August is already upon us. Before you know it, the kids will be heading to bed and waking up full of anticipation for that big first day of school! I don’t know about you, but we always have a few hiccups those first few weeks with getting back into the school routine. It can be rough for the kiddos to jump back into a complete different routine that what they’ve had for the last few months! This year, I’m going to follow these Easy Tips to Get Everyone Ready for Back to School. Hopefully it will make things run just a little more smooth!
Start working on the new bedtime/wake-up plan before school starts
This is #1 on my list for a reason! Bedtimes definitely get more relaxed during the summer and it can be a bit of a challenge to get everyone back into the school routine. Waiting until the night before the first day of school can be a bit iffy in this house, so I like to start implementing the school year bedtime the week before school starts. Even if I just move it by 10 minutes a day until we’re at our desired bedtime, it helps! Easing into it makes it easier for the kiddos to adjust to the new routine and it isn’t a DEFCON-5 situation like it would be if we changed things the night before!
I also am pretty relaxed on our morning routine in the summer, too. We do activities in the summer and the kids are involved in some organized sports and activities, as well, but for the most part, we aren’t rolling out of bed as early as we do during the school year. This one is actually for me, as much as it is for the kids. I want to make sure we’re going to have enough time to get ready, have breakfast, do any last minute school things, and still get to school on time. Again, I’ll generally just adjust times a bit over the week prior, so there isn’t a big issue with the first day of school alarm clock!
Make an Organization Station at home
I’m kind of big on organization. Some might call me Type-A. That’s OK. I like making sure I know what is happening when and making sure all of the activities and events we have going on are kept in check. So what exactly is an Organization Station? Mine includes the following:
- Calendar – A large calendar that is always kept up-to-date with all of the things going on in the kid’s and family’s life. No, this isn’t the one where my husband and I put our important work meetings in, this is strictly for family life. What are we doing on the weekends? When is my son’s soccer practice and games? When is my daughter’s dance lessons? When are the days off from school? I keep this baby up-to-date as much as humanly possible and because it’s large, there is plenty of room for multiple events on the same day. And… nobody can have the excuse that it was too small for them to read! This is also kept in a central location in the house where it’s easy to be engrained in everyone’s minds as the days pass!
- Binders – I keep a binder for each child on the table next to our calendar. It includes things like what classes the kids have, things they have coming up, policies for their classrooms so I never forget where to find things, and anything else that is child-related during the school year where it will quickly be accessible. My kids get weekly announcements sent home from school and this is where they go so I can keep up on things that are happening.
- Meal Plans – This is also where the meal plans go. I generally do meal plans for a month at a time, but there are those crazy times that life interrupts and I can only get things done a week in advance. Generally, I’ll make the plan and spend a day freezing a ton of food that I make so we don’t have to always make dinner from scratch every night. If someone is curious about what is coming up, all they have to do is look at the meal plans that are tacked against a cork board that we have in our Organization Station.
- Make a “Parent Pouch” – What in the world is this? This is a part of the binders that were discussed above. It’s where all permission slips reside, where parent information is located for the kids, and where the kids make sure that if something is going on that Mom and Dad need to sign or approve, this is where it’s going to go! Are there school notices and policies that you want to make sure you aren’t missing? This is the home for such things! It has worked so well in our house and we don’t have issues with things not getting signed or discovered in the bottom of a backpack until it’s too late.
This station truly is a life-saver. My kids are still young enough where it isn’t too difficult to keep track of the things they have going on, but I’ve been told a million times by my husband that he loves this area because it helps him to see what is going on in the family, as well. I have the privilege of working from home and am deeply involved in my kids’ day-to-day lives, but my husband commutes and having everything set up for him to see at a moment’s notice really helps him to feel like he knows what’s going on and can plan accordingly.
Creating Meal Plans
While the meal plans are located in the Organization Station, the whole process is immensely helpful when it comes to making things easier for the family once school starts. So what do I do?
- Lunch Plans – My son prefers to have lunches made from home that he takes to school and we all know that waiting until the last minute to pack a lunch generally ends with something getting forgotten more than once. So I usually make a lunch plan a week at a time. Occasionally lunch at school will work, so not every school day involves making a lunch, but the weekly lunch calendar will help to keep us on track.
- Dinner Plans – I generally try to plan things out for a month at a time and I’ll pick a day or two a month to cook all of the plans, freeze them, label them, and be ready for dinner in no time. It saves us SO much time during the school year when everyone is busy with pick-ups after school, activities to go to after school, and having less time to make a fresh meal everyday. I like knowing that I have my dinner, or at least a majority of my dinner, ready to go in a matter of minutes when it’s time to break it out.
- Breakfast Plans – I don’t formally make a meal plan for breakfasts, but I do like to make some things ahead of time so they are quick to heat up in the morning. It saves us from grabbing an unhealthy alternative and keeps the kids going until snacks mid-morning. Generally, if I make pancakes one morning I’ll making a heaping pile and freeze the leftovers, which can quickly be reheated. Or we’ll have some hard-boiled eggs prepared with fruit and cereal. Sometimes we’ll even make some breakfast sandwiches and also make extras that will be frozen and reheated when the time comes. It works well for our family and makes things a little easier on those hectic school mornings.
Create a nighttime routine
One thing that we do to make the back-to-school days easier is to create a regular routine for the kids at night where they know what is coming and they know the times they are coming at. This includes:
- Bath time – We start bath time soon after dinner to get everyone ready for the end of the day and to settle down the little ones. Going through the routine of bath time, brushing teeth, cleaning up, and getting the P.J.’s on is actually so much easier during the school year than it is during the summer! The kids know what to expect and are generally met with the same time frames of these routines every school night. The summer can be so crazy and every day can be a bit different, so it’s nice that once they get set back into these school time routines, things run more smoothly!
- Organizing clothes for the next day ahead of time is a big thing to save time fussing over what to wear the following day. It only takes a few minutes to get the clothes laid out for the next day, but when you’re hustling in the morning to make sure everyone completes everything they need before heading out the door, those few minutes are well worth it!
- Downtime before bed includes things like no more technology, reading books to the kids, getting a little one-on-one time with each child in their bedroom chatting, and overall, just winding down from the busy day. The kids look forward to this time one-on-one with us and it’s great to hear them open up about stuff that you may not have heard or had time for earlier in the day. It’s a great time to work on different school things with the kids, too, and quiz them for the next day’s test or help them work through any other school problems they may be having.
- Lights Out
Set up a functional homework station at home
We have an area in the home dedicated to everything homework. Our kids are still young enough where they don’t really use it for homework right now, but my daughter loves to “pretend” she has homework that she efficiently has to do…oh, how I’m sure that will change someday! We have it stocked with supplies that they may need including paper, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, sticky notes, paper clips, rulers, scissors, etc. There is a comfortable desk and chair for them to work at with a light, and even though our kids are young, they know the purpose of this spot and know when to use it. We use it right now a lot for our son and for the different home activities we do with him for working on sight words, reading, writing, and anything else that he is learning. This is also the place where I have set up a “library” for the kids. I have a couple small bookshelves with all of the children’s books in this area to make it feel more authentic and positive. It also helps a ton to know exactly where all of the books go when they end up in different random places throughout the house! It works great!
I love how excited my son is to start school again! I hope he has that feeling every summer! But, I know that there are always some challenges with the different bedtimes and wake-up times that he has to get used to, among other things. Why not try a few of these tips to hopefully ease the kids back into the madness of the new school year? Here is to Day 1 of the 2015-2016 school year! Good luck!
What are your secret tips to get the kids ready and excited for the back-to-school routine? Comment below and give us the tips that you use in your household! 🙂