Back to School! Yes, I’ve said it! The words kids hate at this time of year. While I enjoy the unscheduled days of summer, I find the routines that the school year brings to be calming, although hectic.
With one in college and one starting his junior year, my schedule is a lot freer than it has ever been. That being said, I remember the hustle and bustle of the mornings and evenings with younger children like it was yesterday. It was so hard! I like to think back to the many mornings that went off without a hitch, but who’s kidding?
So many times I ended up with someone in tears on the ride to school because by the time I said, “Get your shoes on!” for the fourteenth time, I was losing it. Some days I was the one in tears on the way to school feeling like a terrible, chaotic mom. How could anyone have a good day if it started that way? I have a degree in early childhood and family studies, for Pete’s sake! I can manage a classroom full of children; what is going wrong here?
I longed for routine and order.
The truth is we all do what we can, the best we can. Some days this means we hit all the targets and our children look as organized as the Von Trapp children with the Captain. Other days it means we look like we are herding cats while trying to juggle chainsaws. It’s OK. We all have those days. We get it!
Well, let me tell you what I learned in those days: I finally realized I needed to apply my classroom management skills to my home. Maybe this idea can help you too!
Routines. Routines were the key to my classroom, and they were certainly key to my family having smooth mornings and evenings. Evening routines were the most important, especially with young children. They thrive on consistency and routines.
Think about your mornings. What could be done in the evening to alleviate stress in the mornings? For my family, this meant laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before.
Here is a sample of our evening routine when my children were young:
Clean up toys
Make lunches (Kept in the fridge until the morning)
Get out school clothes
Pack any papers needed in backpacks and put backpacks at the door. (Should be done at homework time.)
Every bit of this can be done with the help of your children. We had approved snack baskets in the fridge and in the pantry for them to make healthy choices. They were able to help make sandwiches too. One child didn’t want bread so she simply rolled up lunchmeat and cheese!
If you don’t want to fight about the clothes every night, get a 5-tiered shelf that hangs on the closet rod. On Sundays put outfits together (1 per shelf), socks and underwear included.
If toys are given a specified home, then clean up is easier. Mom and Dad, you have to supervise this because kids are not a fan of clean up time. They WILL shove things where they don’t belong if you aren’t in there. Sorry, but you all know it’s the truth. 15 minutes should do it if it’s a nightly routine. Clean up to music to make it more fun.
Another suggestion that children will not be a fan of: No electronics during the week. I was not going to fight with my children every night to put away the iPad. Once they had phones, they were plugged in to charge in our main hall at night.
Now that all of this is done at night, the morning routine is easy. (Insert evil laugh) Well, easier than before.
Here is a sample of our morning routine when my children were young:
Breakfast – try to think healthy and protein filled. You can make breakfast muffins on the weekends if needed but kids need a healthy breakfast.
Get dressed – Hair, clothes, shoes and brushed teeth
Put lunch in backpack
Off to school
That’s much better, right?
Now, here’s the best part. Type your lists on your computer. (Use pictures along with the words for young children who can’t read.) Insert these lists into sheet protectors and hang them on the refrigerator. Tie a dry erase marker to the page. Now, the kids can check off their own “to do” lists so you aren’t having to be responsible for every step. You are the overseer/assistant. The children gain a sense of independence, and you gain some peace. (Each child had his or her own age-appropriate list.)
Unfortunately, I cannot alleviate the stress of homework and projects that come with this time of year, but with these routines, I hope I can help you organize some of the Chaos that going back to school can bring.
Talk to Martha-Carol about organizing your home for back to school today!