Think back to the beginning of school last year—or rather, don’t. If the memory makes you shudder, you’re not alone. Every fall, parents expect a serene send-off for kids returning to school, only to find the transition more chaotic than they predicted. Somehow, the backpacks, attitudes, lunches, anxieties, schedules, and gear disrupt family life (especially mornings), even given plenty of notice and back-to-school organization tips.
Don’t stress. The solution isn’t complicated: your family needs structure. A back-to-school routine can prevent harried mornings and stressful afternoons. Here are seven steps to establish your own.
1. Start Early
Don’t wait until the bell rings to implement your back-to-school routine. Procrastinating is the best way to stage a repeat of last year’s circus. Instead, talk casually with the kids about a fall regimen soon (so they’re not blindsided in August when you’re suddenly tapping your watch).
2. Invite Input
Ask each family member how they’d like to arrange school days. You don’t need to implement all of their suggestions, but letting everyone (especially the kids) sound off is a great way to ease the transition.
3. Heap on the Excitement
Once you’ve heard them, add to the anticipation by announcing an incentive. It could be celebratory Friday ice cream outings—or how about a special treat from the vending machine, where you can pay for goodies with the PayRange mobile app (instead of digging in your pockets for loose change)?
4. Make It Visual
Some families use a whiteboard, others a customized wall calendar like these styled ones from Shutterfly. Younger children might enjoy the colorful, chunky, grabbable pieces included in the T.S. Shure My School Wooden Magnetic Calendar. Whatever you choose, hang your new weekly schedule in a prominent place where the whole family can refer to it often.
5. Tool Up
Arrange the days’ elements according to what the family agrees on, and list the items you’ll need to implement into your new routine. For example, one of the best back-to-school organization tips is for parents to establish a “homework time slot” block and then separately track what each kid is working on. This tactic is easier than you’d think. Simply grab a student planner of your own to write down term papers, reading assignments, and due dates. This way, you’ll know every day at 8 a.m. what the afternoon holds.
6. Tech All About It
Download a mobile app or two to streamline errands. A list-making app or task management program like Trello can alert you when it’s time for the next calendar item. The reminders are helpful when you’re away from your family’s wall calendar.
7. Allow Flexibility
Circumstances change, so don’t be thrown off when something disrupts your carefully laid plans. In fact, that’s what a back-to-school routine is for. It’s there to help the family cope with surprises, both positive and not-so-positive.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see these suggestions have a common theme: they make your life more convenient. In order to implement a dependable back-to-school routine, it’s important that you also set yourself up for success. After all, you’ll be doing this dance every year until graduation day, so it helps you and everyone around you to get things in order!