1) Set up routines kids will stick to
Tired of being a nag in the morning? Feel like a broken record barking out things like “Don’t forget your lunch!” and “Have you packed your homework?”. Stop the insanity. Set up a simple system that will get them out the door while keeping your frustration levels down. At our house, we have a “Before School Plan”, which is a chart listing all of their morning duties. My kids mark off each duty as they complete it and if they do them all without a verbal reminder, they earn a check mark in my wonderful and elaborate Check Mark Reward System. If you want to avoid messy charts taped to your wall, check out this little beauty. The “Ready, Set, Go Board” has visual cues that assist in self-organization.
2) Organization starts with you!
Everything has a home. Each child has a cubby for their agendas and homework. There is nothing worse than running around in the morning trying to find gym shoes. Avoid the chaos by designating a location for all school and lunch supplies. Get most of your organization done the night before – pack lunches, lay out school clothes – I even put the cereal on the table!
3) Streamline lunch-packing
If you can pack lunches the night before, that’s the way to go. Freezing sandwiches to use throughout the week, or even making casseroles and soups on the weekend to throw into a Thermos, is a favourite with my kiddos. Got yourself a little juice addict? I say cut them off cold turkey style. Water is the best drink for kids at school and it’s easier on the environment than the hundreds of little juice boxes you’d use in a year. If you have a child with allergies, be sure to put an Allergy Alert label on all of their reusable lunch containers to ensure caregivers are aware.
4) Save money and time by planning ahead
Shop off-season, clear out closets to assess what can be handed down and for goodness’ sake, label all clothing to make sure it comes home at the end of the school day. There is nothing more horrifying than the lost and found closets at elementary schools!
5) Top tip – find yourself some helpers!
Don’t feel like dragging a toddler and baby to the bus stop every morning in the dead of winter so you can get your bigger kids on the bus? Yeah, me neither. An older kid who goes to the same bus stop is happy to do the morning pick-up and afternoon drop-off for a cool $20 a week. “Bus buddies” are a good investment for busy mamas. Another good investment is a homework buddy. Homework is often a time of conflict for parents and kids because we are too darn emotionally attached – things heat up when we get frustrated. I have a high school student come to the house and my kids love having some time with their big kid friend. Homework is not something any of us dread anymore!
With the right support, routine, tools and environment – you can say you’ve done your part in setting your kids up for success while also saving yourself from back-to-school insanity.
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Tags: Back to School