The school year is almost here and we will soon be trading in summer sleep-ins and relaxed schedules to early morning wake-ups and routines. As we look forward to the upcoming year, I want to share a few tips to help keep you and your family organized this school year. One of my favorite quotes is “begin as you mean to go on.” I read it in a baby book when I was pregnant with my first. One of the examples they used was for feeding your baby. If you teach them from the very first feeding to keep their hands on their highchair and not grab the spoon from mommy, they will accept that as how their feedings will go. It is much easier to teach a baby this skill at the beginning rather than try to correct a few months older baby who is used to grabbing the spoon from the parent and making a huge mess. I read that quote
seven years ago, and I still apply it to my life today!
How can this apply to you and your family? Envision how you would like the school year to look. What you want your family meals and routines be, how homework should be handled, etc. and make plans now to put these into practice at the beginning. I think you’ll find that you, and your children, will be able to accept a routine if you start on the first day of school, rather than try to adjust halfway through the year. Here’s some practical tips to help make that happen:
Create A Family Calendar
This could be shared virtually, such as Google Calendar, Apple Calendar or Cozi Family Calendar(this is a paid calendar app but worth it), or you can have a physical one that you put on display for your family to see in a Command Center. I love this Acrylic Calendar from The Container Store. By now, your school should have sent out their master calendar with school events, breaks, etc. Take a look at that calendar and add all the important dates on your personal calendar. Make sure to share them with your spouse! If you are able to, add sports schedules and any extracurricular activities your children will be participating in this year.
One of the things I have found most helpful for our family is to go over our general schedule at the beginning of the month. We go over our more specific schedules on Sunday evenings before the week begins. Touching base like this remind us of upcoming events and what I need to do to ensure things run smoothly (i.e. confirm with the babysitter, wash school uniforms, check on carpool, etc.).
Organize Their Closet
Children grow quickly, and sizes can change even during the school year. One day their clothes are loose and their shoes are too big, and the next, they are growing out of their shirts, their shorts have holes, and their shoes are too tight! To help keep their clothing organized, place three bins in a convenient area (I recommend the closet) and label them: too big, too small, and donate. When your child grows out of a shirt, place it in the “too small” bin. If you receive hand me downs or purchase an item that is just a little too big, add it to the “too big box” and make sure to check it when your child goes up a size. If you have an item that your child isn’t loving, add it to the donate bin! When the bins become full, it’s time to relocate by donating or saving for the next child.
One of the most stressful times for me can be dinner time. I don’t know what happens around 4:30/5:00 in my house, but I become the Ring Leader in a 3 Ring Circus. Something that has helped me keep my sanity and stop ordering take out at the last minute is creating a meal plan for the week. It doesn’t have to be some elaborate, color coordinated meal prep sheet or different color-coded salad containers in your fridge for each day, just KEEP IT SIMPLE!
You know yourself and your family and what it will take to succeed. Sit down at the beginning of the week and look at what you have coming up. Do you have a baseball game or an event where dinner is provided? Don’t plan a meal that night. Are friends coming over for dinner on Thursday? Make sure to buy extra and/or text your friend to ask them to bring a side dish. Consider having weekly themed meals (i.e. Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, BBQ Friday, etc.) to create an easy routine. Create crockpot meals that can slow cook during the day or cook extra food for dinner that can be re-heated for leftovers. Planning ahead will save you time and money in the long run.
If you haven’t already, find a designated space for your child to sit down and do their homework. Add a caddie or pencil box of their favorite school supplies in an easy to reach spot. At the beginning of the semester, set the expectation that schoolwork is to be started or finished at certain time. For example: if you would like your kids to start their homework after snack time and before soccer practice, let them know your expectation and start doing this the very first day they get homework. Clear the space of any distractions and make sure you’re around for any questions! This is just as important for you that it is for your child.
If you start off together this way, they (and you) will get used to the routine and make it a habit. Remember, begin as you mean to go on! When you have routines and organizational systems in place, it can help keep your home running smoothly and provide you the time and energy to make room for the people and things that matter the most. Begin as you mean to go and you will be ready for whatever this school year may bring.
Wishing you a happy and successful school year! I would love to know some things that you have implemented to keep your family organized during the school year.