The start of September and the back to school season always feels a bit like a new beginning – like a January 1st. After summer vacation and lack of schedules, it’s nice to get back into a routine and start organizing yourself for a smarter year ahead. While I am not completely Type A when it comes to organizing, I do have my own systems that work for me to keep my household and teenagers somewhat on track.
Some of my tips for the start of the new year include:
Create a spot for backpacks, papers and stuff! Keeping backpacks in one spot and school papers and forms in another makes things easy to find when the mornings are rushed. I usually try to keep backpacks out of the kids bedrooms because once they go in there, things start to get lost. The same goes for lunch kits and containers – they get put back in the same spot every night. This small tip helps to keep the mornings running a little smoother.
Homework Space. Keeping the kitchen counter/dining table open for homework every day encourages them to get their books out and work. If you have an open concept space, keep noise and TV to a minimum so that the kids have a spot to concentrate. Having a specific location that keeps your kids close to the family hub seems to encourage them to work on things, rather than sending them up to their room to hide and get distracted by electronics. We keep a supply of pens and papers around and hide it away in a basket, so it can be easily brought out after school every day.
Protein-rich Breakfast! School starts early for high schoolers and even some elementary school kids, and I have found that a protein-rich breakfast keeps them going for longer. Eggs, protein shakes, smoothies, oatmeal and greek yogurt or something like ham or bacon if you have time really helps to keep them going during the day. My own kids have never been big eaters first thing in the morning, but we have adapted some of their favourites (like english muffins) to have some protein also (peanut butter and banana or an egg on top) to make it a more substantial meal.
Create a space for winding down at night. Getting your kids off of their phones, or other devices at least an hour before bedtime helps them to wind down and get a better sleep. If it was up to them, they would have their phones beside their beds and would be checking them throughout the night! We have always had a phone cutoff time at least an hour or two before their bedtime, and if they don’t get a chance to check it after dance classes, then it waits until the morning. Lack of sleep can be a real problem once the school year really gets underway, and I have always found that giving them boundaries so that they are able to wind down distraction-free, can help a lot.
None of these tips are really ground-breaking, however sometimes just implementing a few small rules and routines will help to start off the school year right. The challenge is keeping your household systems running, and not falling off the rails once you create them. I have found that my kids thrive on routine and while they have grumbled about some of my systems, overall they seem to appreciate the structure.
Where are you going with your routines this back-to-school season?