It’s the time of year many parents have all been waiting for, or on the contrary, dreading! BACK TO SCHOOL! Whether you have a few days or weeks left of Summer vacation it’s time to shift gears and get your command centers and work stations back in full blown working order. Let’s talk about how to make this transition as seamless as possible.
Let’s get back to basics here. Routines are super necessary whether you’re 2 months old or 102 years old. What’s the best way to keep your routines routine? A CALENDAR! Some of you might start to groan just thinking about it, but a schedule for EACH member of the family is crucial when getting back into the swing of things so you can manage your day-to-day after school activities, tests, playdates, field trips, carpooling, you name it.
When dealing with your personal calendar, we love using iCal on our iPhone because it syncs with our computers and phones and are taken with us everywhere (how many times have you left your calendar in the wrong place at the wrong time?). Another positive of an online calendar (although this could apply for a paper calendar as well!) is that you can easily create multiple color-coded calendars (one for each person in your family) that you can either hide individually or look at at the same time. We also suggest having calendars accessible for your children, so they know what’s taking place when. The command center or somewhere in the kitchen is a great place to have one on the wall or fridge. Here’s an example of one.
One of my favorite things to do growing up was get my school supply list and go on a trip with my mom to get my new folders, binders, writing utensils, etc. (Do people even do that anymore with online shopping!?). WARNING: there is a great chance that 75% of school supplies you’re going to buy you already have from previous years, but if you’re like me you want to start fresh with each coming year. Totally fine either way, but if you choose to purchase new school supplies make sure you take a peak at the old ones and purge any of the excess. If you’re looking to donate your school supplies, try contacting your child’s school or teacher to see if their art program or classroom would like some extras. Make and Mend in Somerville is also another awesome resource to sell your unwanted art supplies.
Another one of my favorite activities was back-to-school clothes shopping for some cool new pieces. Similarly to the school supplies, it’s important to take an inventory of what you have before you go shopping so you know what you truly need to buy as well as how much extra storage space you have to store everything. Anything that no longer fits (it’s amazing how growth spurts seem to happen during the summer!), is stained or has holes can find itself a new home to another friend or family member, Goodwill or Planet Aid if it’s damaged.
In thinking about your new wardrobe, another back-to-school planning tool is outfit planning. I know I’m not the only one who had to plan my outfit ahead of time or else I’d be late to school every morning. Try to teach your child to set their next day outfit out in their room the night before so that when they wake up, they don’t have to think about it or make any half-awake decisions.
We all know how important it is to have an organized workspace and this is no different for our children while doing their homework. Firstly, decide where your child’s workspace should be. Some children succeed in having their private space in their bedroom while others may take an area of the dining room table or kitchen to do their homework. Once you’ve identified where the station is going to be, make sure it’s a location with the proper writing utensils, calendar, good lighting and seating. This is also a great location to have a folder or bin that can carry any completed homework or schoolwork that no longer needs to live in your child’s backpack or binders. Make sure this is gone through regularly to get rid of any excess.
Finally, my favorite and something I always strive to do better at. In my household, Sundays are reserved for meal planning. I’m not saying that you have to actually do all of the food prep work on Sunday (although if you’re able to do meal prepping days in advance you get a gold star), but take 10 extra minutes out of your day to write down what’s going to be for lunch and dinner each day from Sunday through Saturday. Even if you have a meal out one of those nights, include it. I like to map it out using the Reminders app on my iPhone. I’ve also made it a shared list so that my husband can also access it if he beats me to the grocery store. I’ve labeled the reminders list “Meal Prep & Groceries.” I write down each day of the week below and then the meal next to it. For example:
Sunday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Wednesday: Salmon and Potatoes with Kale
Thursday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
Friday: Night Out
Saturday: Chicken Fajitas
Then underneath the meal plan I write down all of the ingredients that I need to purchase at the grocery store later that day. An important part of meal planning is to be realistic in the planning process. If I know that one of those days are going to be a late night, I will make sure that the meal I’m making are either leftovers from the night before or a quick meal that does not require much preparation once I’m home.
When it comes to lunch planning, try to get your kids involved in the planning process. Whether discussing the meal plan together or doing the nightly prep work in making their own lunch, it allows them to gain more independence. It can’t hurt to provide them with an incentive in the beginning!
There’s nothing better than heading back to school feeling organized and ready. It sets a great tone for the rest of the school year both for yourself and your children when all of your ducks are in a row. As the weeks and days come closer, take one step at a time to make sure all of these areas are good to go!