In the excitement of the first weeks of school, family schedules can be chaotic.
There are new routines to get used to and the number of activities children participate in during the academic year increases the stress in many families. Your kids need help with this balancing act, and some easy organization and smart strategy will make the weekly schedule much more manageable for everyone! One of your most important jobs as a parent is to help your children establish good habits and smart routines that will make school and their extracurricular activities fun, while still allowing time for family and play.
Get in the groove for the school year with healthy at-home routines for school days. Set bedtimes that allow elementary age kids to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. Your teens will function better with between 8 and 9 hours of sleep. When kids are well-rested it's less of a struggle to have a consistent waking time that allows them to dress for the day and eat a healthy breakfast before they head out. You should also decide on a regular homework time for kids, and create a comfortable, quiet space where they can work, stocked with the supplies they need and close enough to call for help if they need clarification on an assignment. Encourage the habit of packing their backpacks and book bags the night before to avoid a mad scramble in the morning! For kids who don't wear school uniforms, selecting their school clothing and packing a lunch the night before also makes the morning routine streamlined and stress-free. This allows time for that good breakfast every school day, and kids who eat a healthy morning meal have more energy for learning and are better able to concentrate. Sharing breakfast time as a family is a daily opportunity to connect and communicate, and starts a child's day on a positive note.
Stay on top of everyone's school and activity schedule by marking a calendar. Color-coding activities by child will show at a glance which child has an event on any given day. Sports equipment and activity and club supplies should be kept in a specific area, and returned there after use. Don't allow kids to be over-scheduled with extracurricular activities. It's fun to try new things, but setting a reasonable limit teaches kids to make decisions and keeps their schedules manageable to allow for needed down-time, family activities and play. Your event calendar should also have information on transportation so everyone knows how the children will get to and from school, sports practices, club meetings and play dates. Kids need to understand how critical it is for parents to know where they are and who they are with throughout the day.
Have a winter weather plan for snow and sick days. As a working parent you'll need a back-up plan if school is cancelled, when teachers have an in-service day, or if a little one is sick. Advanced planning means you'll know who to call if you can't skip work and need an adult to supervise kids unexpectedly at home on a school day.