The kids are well-stocked with school supplies, and it’s just about time to trade swimsuits, shorts and flip flops for jeans, sweaters, and boots until next year. The change of seasons means the end of relaxed summer days and the return to busy schedules. Most families have the best of intentions to be organized the whole year through.
But it’s not easy to keep up with early school bus pick-ups, arguments with picky eaters about breakfast and bagged lunches, last-minute clothing changes for the perfect look, and frantic searches for last night’s homework. Add to that your own everyday craziness that goes with trying to get out the door for work on time and it’s a perfect storm for September stress. But, there are a few things you can do in your home to cut down the stress of the season while letting yourself enjoy some late summer days and relaxation. So what can you do to manage it all?
General organization is a big piece of the stress-free puzzle. Setting up a faux mudroom area, something as simple as a coat rack just inside your home’s entrance and a storage bin or drawer for each member of the family in an entry closet, will give you a place to drop jackets, shoes, backpacks, and other important daily items. We have other ideas for trying to tame the chaos for a productive, more efficient school year.
Choose a space in the house that can serve as the main message/communications center. This is the place where everyone in the family can see paperwork, schedules, assignments, chores, appointments, and sports or school activities. It can be as simple as a calendar on a wall, a bulletin board, an erasable chalkboard, or something as elaborate and detailed as you want it to be – with hooks for file folders, small message boards, and other supplies. The best spot for a communications center is usually the room or area where family members come and go often. It can be the pantry door, a wall in the kitchen, or even behind the front door.
Minimize the battles over meals and wardrobes by planning ahead. Choose school day outfits the night before, and let your kids be in charge of selecting the drinks and snacks for their lunchboxes ahead of time. Make sure uniforms, other sports gear, and homework to be turned in is packed away and easily retrievable in the morning.
As most parents will tell you, a routine and ground rules will help keep the whole family on track. Experts advise easing children into school mode at least two weeks before the start of the year. In the 21st century, parents have an even bigger challenge than generations before as they manage use of devices and electronics. Talk with your children about setting expectations, such as getting homework done before screen time, a “curfew” for using smartphones and being online in the evening before bedtime.