Forget spring-time cleaning and organizing – back to school is when parents crave an orderly household! Care.com’s global parenting expert, Katie Bugbee, shares her best tricks for making those chaotic first days back much easier.
This fall is bananas. My oldest heads off to kindergarten. My middle enters her last year of preschool. And the baby is just a wee baby and needs to be fed and napped in the midst of all the drop-offs and pick-ups.
How am I going to get them all out the door, down the street and around the corner, to catch the 7:20 Kindergarten school bus?
To be honest, I started thinking about this before the baby even came, so I put some strategies in place that have organized our lives a bit better. Here are the nine things to have in place for the school year:
- Cut all technology from the morning. When preschool started at 9, we didn’t need to get out the door until 8:45. And while putting shoes on took 15 minutes, what really slowed us down were the pleas to “finish one more video game” or “watch my favorite My Little Pony.” My kids only get screen time in the morning, so it’s a hot commodity. Moving it to another time should cut down on morning chaos.
- Organize my fridge. Keeping all school lunch making products together, in small fridge bins, makes it 1000 times faster to throw a healthy lunch together. Watch this video on how I organized my fridge. I can now do this the night before or quickly in the morning.
- Create a family calendar. Get everyone on the same page. The nanny, the sitter, the spouse -- and the kids. Everyone can have visual or written tasks and cues as to which day they have which activity - and then they can pack what they need themselves (note: themselves!) Watch this video on how to make a family calendar or family hub, as I call it.
- Add clocks to your morning routine. Clocks are a mom’s best friend in the morning – even if your kids can’t tell time yet. Put a clock in your child’s room (one with hands) and then assign times to this morning checklist printout when certain things need to be done. Wake up, make bed, brush teeth, get dressed. With times attached to all of these responsibilities, you’re more likely to get out the door on time. Watch this video on simplifying your morning routine.
- Enlist help. Whether it’s an after-school sitter, mother’s helper, nanny or parent of your child’s friend, lean on them for a few pick-ups a week. Your kids are bound to have after-school activities with places to go and people to see. But you don’t have to take them to each one. Especially if you have more than one kid, or a baby needs to nap in his own crib for once! (Tip: Hire a sitter every once in a while to watch the baby while you spend quality time with a big kid).
- Create a designated homework space. I’m not sure if Kindergartners get homework, but my son already has little assignments from the fine-motor development classes he takes, so he needs a quiet place where he can focus. A quiet desk with a lamp and no distractions is just the place.
- Streamline school supplies. They can take over your house. Use these 3 school supply organizing tips to clear the clutter.
- Create an after-school routine. A routine that has worked in the past might not work as your child advances in school. Plan time for activities, snack, homework and dinner. Then reward with a few bonus minutes of reading with mom or dad, extra playtime outside or even the coveted screen time. Here are some easy after-school snack recipes.
- Enforce a bedtime routine. This needs to include putting backpacks by the door and getting clothes out for the next day. I’m using the visual checklist found at Care.com/backtoschool so they know everything they need to do before bed.
Good luck this year! Please share any back to school tips that work for you. And find more great tips, videos and printables here.