September 9, 2019
Well, it’s happened. Summer holidays are over and school has started. Notice I didn’t say “summer” is over. It’s not.
With fall comes new activities, goals and routines. September is kind of like January in that it’s a new year. Whether you have kids or not, the school year is a sort of reset – a good time to establish new habits.
Routines help keep you organized and reduce that overwhelming feeling when you get really busy.
1. Establish a home for school "gear" and make it a routine to use it
Kids need school bags, lunch bags, school supplies, books, instruments, and all kinds of other stuff for school. It will end up getting dumped all over the place if you don’t have a designated home for it! Find a place that will be easy to remember and easy to access.
Then get your kids in the habit of putting their own things away every day when they come home, returning everything to this spot when they’re finished with it (homework, school supplies, etc.), and taking what they need from here every morning on their way out the door. This way you aren’t frantically searching for things in the morning or forgetting items that are needed. You also eliminate the pile of stuff that otherwise lands near the door.
It’s also great for parents to have a similar place for their “gear” for work and/or hobbies and activities.
2. Set up a place for school and activity paperwork and make it a routine to use it
Notices, memos, newsletters, schedules, calendars – find a place to keep everything so you don’t have piles of paper cluttering up your counters or table – a “command centre” of sorts. Many people find having folders works well. You can have separate folders for each child, each activity, or whatever will work best for your family.
Using folders, the whole family knows whenever they need to look up something for school or an activity they’ll find the paperwork in these organized and labelled folders. It’s no longer piled up on the kitchen table or in the office. Go through these folders at least once every month to clear out anything that’s no longer needed.
3. Create a morning routine for each member of the family, as well as an after school/work routine and a before bed routine
It really helps things move along during each of these busy times when everyone knows what they should be doing. And once the routines are established they become habit, which saves you having to nag remind everyone what they should be doing.
4. Simplify your lives by being intentional about how many activities each person participates in
You need to choose for your family what a good amount of activities for each person is. Some families allow their children to choose 1 sport and 1 music activity (guitar lessons, etc.) per season. Others work out an annual plan for what each person will participate in. It’s different for each family, depending on your kids’ interests, your finances, the parents’ work schedules and availability to drive family members to activities, etc.
My point is just to be intentional about what activities you do so you aren’t as overwhelmed. Don’t just say yes to everything without counting ALL the “costs”.
5. Create a weekly schedule and a weekly reminders list and make it a routine to use them
Once you establish a weekly schedule, make it part of your routine to update your reminders list every week so nothing falls through the cracks.
As you’re setting up a weekly schedule, search out options when you’re choosing activities so you can coordinate which evenings you’re busy and which ones you’re at home. Some families set up their schedule so that only one person has an activity on any given night. Others prefer to have a few busy evenings with multiple activities and then have quieter evenings the other nights. You don’t always have control over this, but where possible it’s good to set it up so it works for you.