The start of a new school year can be exhausting.
There are new schedules to follow, new routines to put into place, new activities to participate in, and new people to meet. Unless you and your children have kept up the same pace all summer as you did during the school year, chances are you’re heading into the school year after a more laid-back pace of summer.
It’s easy to get excited at the start of the year about getting into new routines and have great plans for how the time before and after school is going to be as carefree as possible. I’ve already written a post about school routines, where I talked about this a little already. The hard thing is finding the energy to maintain those routines once the school year gets into full swing.
My best tip for how to maintain a good school routine is to plan ahead.
Even though the weekend might be packed full of sporting events, dance recitals, church, or family activities, make it a priority to carve out time and prepare for the weekend ahead.
Start with outfit planning. Look ahead at the weather, and plan out seven outfits for each child; one outfit for each day of the week, plus two extra in case the weather changes or they just need a little more variety. Then, each night, have your child pick from only those pre-planned outfits what they are going to wear the next day, and hang it somewhere they can easily access (I find command hooks on a closet door great for this purpose). Move the two unworn outfits at the end of the week to the weekend, or save them for the next week.
Next, batch cook for snacks and lunches. Let’s be honest, it’s far easier to send pre-packaged snacks to school with children. It’s more cost efficient and healthier to make snacks at home and send them with your child and have them available for after school. There are a million ideas on the Internet regarding this (Google healthy snacks, or healthy school snacks, or whatever combo you can think of), so I’m just going to share a few.
First, save your money and don’t buy baby carrots, which aren’t really baby carrots at all. Buy a larger bag of carrots, wash them, peel them, and cut them into smaller pieces. I always liked to put individual serving sizes into snack-size bags in the veggie drawer in my fridge. Mix in some sliced celery (if your kids like that combo), and you have an easy, crunchy snack that is easy to grab and go. Rinse grapes and package individual servings into the fridge. You can freeze muffins, homemade granola bars, and energy bites.
You can also prepare for your morning routine. Make breakfast muffins, batches of pancakes and waffles, and freeze them to heat and serve in the morning. You can make your own instant oatmeal packets for breakfast in the morning (really, I did it for years) using quick oats, salt, and mix-ins that your kids like. There are recipes for “egg sandwiches” on the Internet that allow you to make eggs in a muffin pan, then assemble in an english muffin with ham or bacon, and cheese, and then you freeze these and heat and serve in the morning.
You can create a launch pad where your children return their shoes, jackets, school bags, folders, etc. to at the end of the day, so that they can grab their things and go in the morning. On Sunday, make sure that all homework is done, papers are signed, and everything is ready to go for the morning. Each evening as part of the bedtime routine, ensure that these things are done and ready before bed. This cuts down on a stressful morning. At my house we had a few hooks on the enclosed porch with a boot tray underneath it. Jackets went on the top hooks, backpacks went on the bottom hooks, and shoes went on the boot tray. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
Finally, engage your children in the preparations for the week ahead. Let them help choose what they want for breakfasts, snacks and lunches. Give them a checklist to help them remember what they are supposed to do before bed (pick outfit, school bag ready, brush teeth, etc. etc.). Put snacks at a level where they can help to pack their own lunch boxes and pack lunches the night before.
Don’t worry if it takes a while to fall into a good routine. Celebrate your success, and don’t worry if you hit a few bumps. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.
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