Stress is a hot topic in the United States—and it’s not just affecting adults, it’s affecting kids, too. Don’t set a hectic tone for the school year by waiting until the last minute to get organized. Put together a plan of action early on and make this year’s transition much easier for your kids—and you.
Mark it down! Purchase a large calendar and hang it in an often-used area of your home. Begin marking down any important dates or events happening throughout the school year. (If you haven’t received a calendar from your child’s school, check their website.) Consider color-coding your calendar. You can pick a color for each child and fill-in the calendar with their sports schedules, music lessons and school events. If you have one child, color-coding can still be quite helpful by using different colors to notate different sports or events.
Designate “stuff” spots. School mornings can get really stressful when everyone is running around trying to find their stuff. Eliminate this mess by designating a spot for backpacks, homework, lunches, shoes, coats, etc. A “stuff” bin for each child can be extremely helpful as a catchall for shoes, gloves, hats and scarves. For example, when the kids burst in from school, have them put their bag on a hook in the garage, drop their outer garments in their bin and place their homework folder and lunch bag on the counter.
Build a routine. Figure out your routine now—this will eliminate some of the insanity the first few days of school can bring. This can involve anything that helps to make your morning smoother. Sit down one night soon and write down anything that may be a part of your routine. It could be helpful to write these down in question form. For instance, what time should everyone be up? Should the kids get dressed before breakfast or after? Who’s in charge of drop-off/pickup? When should the kids do homework?
Practice your routine. This doesn’t mean you need to do a full-scale dress rehearsal of upcoming school days, but start the transition to school year schedules. Prepare your kids for earlier rising times or a change in their eating schedule by gradually incorporating these new times into their days over the next couple weeks. Starting to make these adjustments a few weeks before school is ideal and will allow your child adequate time to get used a new schedule. If your child is attending a new school this year, take an hour to go see the school, check out the playground and drive or walk your new route.
Remember: one thing at a time! Don’t torture yourself by constantly replaying a list of things you need to get done. Acknowledge that you can only conquer one thing at a time—and allow yourself the time to complete each task. Start a list and keep it on the fridge or somewhere easily accessible. Add things to it as you think of them and start to whittle it down over the next few weeks. Last but not least, don’t beat yourself up if you miss something; most things in life are fixable.