red shoes with school supplies

Back to School: Make the Routine Easier

It gets crazy when school starts.  Everyone is involved in different activities, and somehow, they all need to be fed a healthy dinner every night.  That is between us playing chauffeur, chef, homework helper, etc.  How does it all get done?  And how can we reduce the stress?  As Chief Planner of the household, I have found the one secret to make back to school routines easier with less stress with six more tips to keep your sanity.

Making Back to School Routines Easier – The Big Secret

You don’t have to live a Pinterest life.

Alright, I love Pinterest.  I mean, who doesn’t?  It is filled with awesome recipes, crafts and activities for everyone in your family.  But sometimes, it can be overwhelming.  For instance, take a moment and search family command centers.  I had not even heard of these before, and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous.  If only, I could be that organized.  I wish!  First rule of simplifying…know that you don’t have to live the life on Pinterest.  It is great for ideas, but then you need to make it work for you.  The following are 6 basic ideas for you to implement…and it doesn’t need to be perfect.

The six basic ideas to making school routines easy.

  1. Have a designated spot in your house for homework materials.  I have a bucket that we keep near our dining room table, which is where the kids have been inclined to sit and do their homework.  This bucket includes extra pencils (mechanical, because they never need sharpening), crayons, glue, and scissors.  This keeps us pretty much prepared for anything.  In this bucket goes any lists or study sheets the kids need to work on throughout the week.  For example, spelling lists.  We study the list and then it goes back in the bucket.
  2. Kids empty their backpacks in the same spot every day after school.  My kids know to unpack at the kitchen table.  This tends to be the hub for activity in our house.  Kids have a hard time knowing what they need to give you or keep, so when they empty in the same location, then it is my job to go through the table and determine what we need to keep, what I need to read, and what can go straight into recycling.  Whatever needs to be kept or sent back to school, gets put right back into the backpack or a designated spot by me.  **Side note, I learned early on that we can’t keep every project, and the kids know it too.  We discuss what they think is important to keep in their memory box, which is only about 5-7 projects for the entire year.
  3.   Have a set morning routine.  Electronics have become a huge distraction in our household, but for you it might be toys or the TV.  We make a rule that when you are woken up, you need to get ready by dressing, taking care of hygiene, eating breakfast, and then packing your backpack and setting it by the door with your coat and shoes right there, before they can even touch their electronics.  Even though we have a mud room for storage of backpacks, shoes, and coats, the kids need to make their own ready to go pile.  This keeps us from hunting down that missing right shoe at the last moment.  They also need to make sure they have everything in their backpack that they need. colored pencils secret to less stress
  4. Teach kids how to make their own lunches.  This is best practiced in the summer or on weekends when you aren’t pressured for time.  Have the kids start making their own lunch and determining what should be included.  Trust me, the first few times they do this, they will move slow as molasses.  It will drive you insane.  But, putting in this time to teach them, will give you back extra time when they are able to to this on their own.
  5. Have a family calendar and then have family meetings to discuss every week.  Yes, I wish I had a beautiful calendar for the wall that added to my messy mom chic decor.  But I have found that I just need it to be useful.  The best solution so far, is the big desk calendar that has enough room to take notes in it.  This calendar hangs on the wall in our mudroom, but to be honest, if we didn’t have the mudroom, I would hang it in the kitchen, living room, etc.  It keeps our family organized.  My husband works varied hours and sometimes I have meetings in the evenings.  All of this gets put on the calendar along with kids activities, even if they happen at the same time every week.  Then on Sunday night, we have a short family meeting, where we discuss everything happening that week.  It usually only takes about 5 minutes or so, but we read the calendar and discuss where everyone needs to be each day.  As with everyone, some weeks are crazier than others. 
  6. Have a meal plan for the week.  The last thing you want to spend your mental energy on when you are tired in the evenings, is trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  A meal plan is the perfect solution.  Here you can read how I have a very simple meal plan that is super easy to use.  Just remember to think about your week’s activities as you plan the meals for the week.  And stay flexible.  Want a meal planner?  Or list of 100 dinner ideas?  Click here.

By simplifying your weekly routines, and thinking about the main ideas behind those perfect Pinterest ideas, you too, can make your weeks easier. 

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  1. “messy mom chic decor”, that cracks me up! I think I have a similar style, minus the mom part. My mom also refused to pack our lunches, starting in kindergarten, so for the longest time I always ate the school lunch. Looking back though, once I did learn to pack my own it wasn’t very healthy, haha.

    And some of that stuff on pinterest is insane! It’s beautiful but clearly made by people with much more talent and organization than me.

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