Whether your kids went back to school in August or summer carried through until after Labor Day we have passed the autumnal equinox, are officially in fall and school is in full swing all across the country. If your family is anything like mine the novelty of back to school has worn off and you are likely left with early mornings, packing lunches and a daily battle over homework. So many families focus on organization for back to school but then let it fall by the wayside once the school year really picks up. Or maybe you implemented some new systems but they are just not working. Well, it is never too late!
There is always physical organization (see more back to school organizing tips here) but you can never underestimate the power of organizing your family’s time and creating routines. Routines are an amazing way to bring order and calm to your home. None of us like it but the world still feels different this year and it is especially scary for kids heading to school every day. Adding in routines to your daily life won’t take away that fear but removing some uncertainty and creating more predictability will help both you and your child feel more in control as we continue to navigate the school year.
Before you dive into creating new routines in your home, it is important to think about the pain points for your family. What causes arguments in the morning or creates stress throughout the week? There is no sense in changing something that is working just fine but use that energy to focus on the areas that cause tension in your family. Pick and choose one or two routines to implement in your home and see how it goes. You can always add on more structure and routine from there!
5 Ways to Work Routines into Your Family
Plan for Lunches: I’ve learned over the years that my girls enjoy their lunches much more when they are the ones actually packing them. We have set up our fridge and pantry so that the girls can grab an option from each category (fruit, vegetables, protein, etc.) to fill their lunchboxes. Each night I wash and set out their lunchboxes, containers, and water bottles so that in the mornings the girls can get started without waiting for me to pull out their essentials. Your kids might not be at the age where they can pack their lunches themselves or maybe they are just less than interested but creating a routine for how, when and by who lunches are packed will streamline your mornings. For some of you this might mean mom or dad is packing lunches at night so they are ready to go in the mornings and for others it might mean setting up stations so there is less thought involved in packing.
Allow Time for Morning Routine: It wouldn’t be parenting without some stress in the mornings, am I right? But a good solid morning routine can help eliminate some of that stress and allow you to breathe a sigh of relief before the kids head out the door for school or maybe even (gasp) enjoy your morning coffee. One of the things that impacts morning routines the most is time or lack thereof. We all love sleep but not allowing your family enough time to make it through their morning routine will create stress. Work backwards from the time you need to be out the door, consider all of the tasks you need to complete each morning and assign a time to each task. Use this “math” to determine your wake-up time and always build in an extra 5 to 10 minutes, something always takes longer than you expect. Now that you have created your “schedule” for the morning it will be easier to keep up each day.
Plan Outfits: I am a mom of teen girls so it is no surprise that clothes can be a point of contention in our home. But moms of toddlers I think your three-nagers are right there too, am I right? Setting up a routine for selecting outfits for the week (or next day) will help eliminate those arguments and help your family stay on time in the morning. As my girls are a little older they select their outfits the night before for the next day. We have worked it into our nightly routine and they do not go to bed without picking out their clothes for the next day. If your kids are a little younger and need more help it might be beneficial to plan for the whole week. I love using something like this here to create a cubby for each day so you and your child can pick outfits on the weekend for the week ahead.
Creating a Family Command Center: There are a lot of moving pieces in any family and creating a family command center can be a great way to eliminate any confusion or chaos involved in all of those details. I have shared more about family command centers here including how to create one and why. Once you have the family command center set up you can work it into your family’s routine – both checking it daily and setting aside time to update it weekly or monthly.
Set up a Homework Schedule: Creating a routine for homework can be one of the most impactful routines for your family as it can eliminate so much fighting with you and your kids. When there is no question about when homework is done there are less discussions and therefore less fighting. Decide what works for your family – homework done as soon as they get home, after a snack, after sports or before dinner. Whatever you decide, make sure the whole family is on the same page and there will be no question.
Bonus Tip: Keep items that your family needs for your morning routine close at hand even if it is a little out of the ordinary. This might mean setting aside a drawer of hair supplies in the kitchen vs. your kids’ bathroom or keeping a second set of toothbrushes in your powder room. Make things convenient and work for you – no one likes running up and down the stairs!
Finally, it is so important to not feel trapped by a routine! Routines are amazing organizational tools but only if they are working for you. Don’t be afraid to tweak, modify or even abandon a routine if it isn’t working for you and your family! Who’s ready to get started and bring those routines into your family’s life? TELL ME: what is one routine that has changed the way your family functions?
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