Are you ready for school? Set up those ROUTINES!
By Jennifer Seawell, MD, FAAP
The new school year is closing in quickly. It is time to start getting your kids ready for the new school year if you’ve not started yet. One of the best ways to get this going is to take a good look at your family’s schedule and try to get some routines in place to help you to be successful.
I’m a huge fan of routines. And although my work schedule may change and different activities may happen on different days, I find that I’m best able to keep on top of things if I keep a basic schedule in my head.
Things to consider when developing your schedules
When are you most productive?
I’m a morning person. Although I do occasionally sleep in, I’m generally up with the sun whether I am off for the day or not. My most creative and productive time is between 6 AM and 10 AM. By mid-afternoon I’m starting to get tired. After 9 PM, I am mostly useless. For me, this means that if there is a chore that needs to get done, I should aim for before work.
I have a friend whose most productive time is 10PM-12PM. She operates her best at a time where I can barely see straight.
What must you have ready to go in the mornings?
With 2 kids at very different stages of education and at 2 different schools, our mornings can be a bit chaotic. My 8th grader is responsible for getting herself up and ready on her own in the morning. But I drive her to school. We leave our house before 6:30 on most mornings.
Before walking out the door, I wake up the 2nd grader… this sometimes goes better than others. But if things go according to plan, she’s up and dressed for the day and done with breakfast by the time I get back home. Which gives us 30 minutes for violin practice before I pass the kid torch over to my husband and head out the door again for work.
Both my kids take music lessons so practice time is a necessary and sometimes painful thing to incorporate into our daily schedule. Getting up any earlier is a total no-go for the 13-year-old so she practices in the afternoon. My little squirt gets tired as the day goes on, so we at least attempt to get most of the work done before school in the mornings.
What type of practice do you wish you could work into your daily schedule? Music? Reading? Sports? It doesn’t take much… 20 minutes a day adds up to nearly 2 1/2 hours per week. And if it is part of the daily routine, much easier to get cooperation.
Do your kids make their lunches or buy from the cafeteria? What about you?
If your kiddo is eating lunch in the cafeteria, this is as simple as making sure there is money in their lunch account. But if your little brings their lunch, consider lunch packing to be a part of after dinner cleanup. Huge time saver in the mornings. I generally bring my lunch and snacks to work so that I’m not tempted to eat things that I shouldn’t. 🙂 So I also try to pack my stuff and fill my water bottles before going to bed at night.
Do you have young kids that require folders to be signed?
If you have a younger student who needs folders signed, pick a scheduled time to check all the folders. A consistent time means less likely to forget. And will also mean less likely to be scolded by your 1st grader for not signing it again…. haha.
If you have an older child, this is also a good time to consider asking them if there are any papers you need or things coming up you need to know about. The middle school crowd is notorious for forgetting these details.
Are there daily chores that must get done to keep your home running more smoothly? Can you delegate?
Laundry? Dishes? Keeping a home running smoothly is the whole family’s responsibility, not just the parents’. What chores can you delegate to your kids and make them responsible for? What things can you complete as a family? Even the youngest of kids can and should help to put up dishes, leftovers and straighten up. Can you work the daily MUSTS into your morning or nighttime routines? If not, is there a time you can set aside each week to get it all knocked out? There will be something different that works for each family. And if your kids aren’t used to having to help out, you will like hear more than a few grumbles, “that’s not fair,” and “Susy’s mom doesn’t make her do this!” But hang in there. It will get easier.
What do you need in the morning to help you keep things together?
I have become close friends with the program button on my coffeepot. The pot gets loaded at night and I waken to the very lovely smell of coffee wafting thru my house. I generally get up, grab my coffee and breakfast, then head outside for sometimes the only ME time all day. This is my time in the morning and I can’t imagine starting my day any other way.
Are there any morning rituals that you need to incorporate to your schedule that puts your head in the right place for the day? Journal writing? Reading? Listening to music? It doesn’t have to be long, but try working even 5 minutes into your morning and see how it changes your outlook.
Make a morning and nighttime routine
After looking at all the stuff you need, make up what you want on your morning and nighttime routines. Make one for you, and another for your kids. A good nighttime routine will help ease up your mornings a bit.
These are the routines that I try to stick to for my kiddos. Sometimes we fail miserably. But when we do stick to them, things work much more smoothly. Here is the Kids Morning Routine (218 downloads) and you can also download the Free Printable Kids Evening Routine (134 downloads)
I hope the beginning of the school year goes well for all of you and that the Routines printables help! We like to frame them and mark things off with dry-erase or chalk markers. If you’d like to read about ways to make the first day special, check out my post on starting kindergarten here. Many of the ideas (especially the interview questions) apply to students of all ages! If you have any tried and true tricks for keeping things running ‘mostly‘ smoothly, feel free to share!