How have you been settling into the school year? Are you starting to feel pressure every morning to get your kids off to school and every evening to get them to bed on time? Try these 3 back to school routines to streamline your day!
“Mommy! We’re SOOOOO BOOOOOORED!”
I gave a small sigh as I finished washing up the breakfast dishes and turned to my two oldest boys as I wiped my dripping hands on a towel.
“Well, kids,” I attempted a smile as they looked at me expectantly,”Good news! You won’t have to be bored for long because school starts next week!”
I know you’ve felt like this. By the end of summer vacation, although I love my boys, my patience is wearing thin. The lack of structure gets to all of us, even though I did create somewhat of a daily routine for the family. They feel lazy. You feel lazy. And there isn’t much urgency to get anywhere, so by the time you start school again, you’re all used to drifting.
I, for example, had gotten used to staying in bed in the morning until my kids dragged me out of bed, insisting that they were “STARVING!” So take a mom who’s enjoying “sleeping in” and kids who’ve gotten unused to the urgency of being rushed out the door and you get a family who’s seriously unprepared for school to begin again.
My solution was to somewhat ease into our school year routines a week early by starting with our morning routine of up, washed, dressed and eating breakfast at least by 8 so it wouldn’t be such a shock when school actually came.
And it worked! (Although I still don’t enjoy preparing four full lunches every night – that was one thing I was happy to leave for the first day of school!)
I’ve incorporated daily routines into our year to keep us going and our days running smoothly.
Essentially, these are broken into 3 back to school routines:
- Evening routine (I put this before morning for a reason!)
- Morning routine
- After-school routine
By now, you’ll probably know that I’m a big proponent of preparing the night before. Preparing things the night before cuts down on half the morning battles and most of the stress!
I find that three main things are the backbone of our evening routine and help us the most the next day.
- Lunch prep
- Schoolbag prep
- Clothing prep
When your children are younger, you’ll be doing all of these things. The older they get, the more responsibilities they can take on.
For example, a first grader can certainly set out his own clothes for the next day (depending on how you have the clothing set up, or you might have some seriously interesting outfit choices). A second grader can take over making her own lunch (see my lunch planning and prep post for great ideas!).
And when it comes to preparing their bag for the next day, I think that’s an excellent thing to start training them into as soon as they begin first grade. You can even make them a kid-friendly checklist on the door to remind them!
Having a “launch station” in the house, where you keep all of your family’s belongings that need to be taken with them when they leave, can be fabulous for keeping schoolbags, keys, briefcases etc.
For kids, it’s always good to know the order of events so there’s no confusion in the morning.
For example, only having breakfast once they’re dressed, washed up and have their teeth brushed. Once it becomes a routine, it becomes so automatic that it’s rarely argued with.
Another helpful aspect of this is once you have this automatic rule set up, it becomes “out of your hands”. If they are begging for breakfast in their pajamas, you can shrug and say “Breakfast is only available for kids who are dressed, honey. The faster you get dressed the faster you can start eating!”
For younger kids, you can make them a picture chart of the things they need to do, in order. I love these routine cards from Lauren Tamm and Rachel Norman! They’re perfect for my littles who can’t read yet, and even my older boys like having tangible proof of what they’ve completed.
Older kids can have a written list on their bedroom wall, door, or wherever you’re sure they’re going to see it. But by then they probably will be so used to the routine they won’t even need the list!
After school routine
Belongings tend to get dumped after school. Homework can be forgotten in the excitement of being back home and among the family.
When your kids come home, you can have them take their homework out right away and place it on their desk or the table where they’ll do it. This keeps the work in their consciousness at home.
It’s important to have a snack, even a small one, and a little bit of time to wind down before starting their homework. Kids need to decompress after school just like adults need to decompress after work, and they have a much lower patience threshold. Let them relax, eat something delicious, and chat a little before they buckle down.
A sample after school routine can be: Home->take homework out of bag->snack, drink, and chill for 15-30 min->homework->play->dinner.
Implementing Your Back to School Routine
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas to help you figure out your own family routines. If you don’t want to jump all in at once, try one at a time. Remember, though, doing this for a couple of days is not going to be effective! Routines are called “routines” because the idea is that they BECOME routine. Nothing will become routine after a couple of days. Stick with it and you’ll see fantastic results!
So what did you think of these back to school routines? Does your family have a routine for morning or evening? Share it in the comments below!