After a long and lazy summer, are you ready to get into a back to school routine? Getting back to it can be hard but with these 6 simple tips to help you ease back into a routine that works for you, your family will start the new school year on the right foot!
Can you feel it? It’s coming….
August is now upon us, summer is winding down and for many, we are about to trade the long, lazy days of summer for more routine filled days as we head into the back to school season.
Soon our wake up late, go with the flow, pool filled days will be replaced with more structure, routines, and predictability.
As much I have loved this summer — it has been the first one in over 5 years when I haven’t either been pregnant or had a baby under the age of one (woot-woot!)— and have created memories with the kids I will cherish forever, I am looking forward to getting back into a routine.
Something I have learned over these past few weeks of fun is that both I and my kids thrive on a routine.
While I have done my best to keep a simple routine during the summer months, it’s just not the same as the school year. The break has been good. We have rested, refreshed, recharged and spent hours creating memories but it is time to start getting back to it.
School starts in exactly 10 days for my oldest two, my youngest doesn’t start preschool until after Labor Day, so now is the time to start slowly getting into a back to school routine that will allow us to ease into this new season and won’t feel like quite a swift jolt when the first day of school rolls around.
Regardless of whether your kids go to school, you homeschool or maybe you don’t even have school age kids yet, it’s time to start adjusting our mindsets and create small routines to help us get back-to-school ready.
So how do we get back to it when we have had almost no sense of routine the last few months?
We have to start small and begin planning today with a few steps to get into a back t0 school routine.
6 Things You Can Do Today to Get Back To It with a Back to School Routine
Pull Out the Calendar
As much as I love my planner and use it pretty regularly, I have hardly touched it the past month. It was intentional. I purposely didn’t plan anything in July so I didn’t need to refer to it but that all changed today.
With back-to-school comes about a million different dates that I need to remember so it’s time to dust off my trusty calendar and start getting organized!
Between the two different school calendars (Elementary for my oldest and preschool for my youngest two), church events, doctors appointments and other important events, not to mention all of the family birthdays we have coming up over the next few months, there are a lot of dates that I need to stay on top of and I am sure you do too!
Begin by gathering up your calendar of choice, either a traditional paper planner or your electronic calendar, along with any school calendars and pre-scheduled appointments and dates. Make sure everything is recorded in one place so you don’t have stacks of miscellaneous paper everywhere.
For more details about how I set up my planner, be sure to check out these two posts:
Map Out a Loose Routine/Schedule
For some when they hear the words routine and schedule, they get stuck on rigid time-based schedules that don’t allow for any flexibility at all.
That’s not what I’m talking about at all!
A loose routine or schedule is outlining your day based on the times and activities you already have set and creating a routine based on those times.
For example, I know what time school starts each day, so I start from there to work backward to outline our morning routine:
- 8:10 School drop off
- 8:00 Leave the house
- 7:45 Brush hair & teeth
- 7:30 Get Dressed
- 7:15 Breakfast
- 7:00 Wake up kids
I do the same thing when outlining an afternoon and evening routine from the time I pick up from school until bedtime.
I’m not outlining in detail every single activity that needs to get done but I’m time blocking our day to help it run a little smoother.
Think through the times you absolutely know you need to be somewhere or doing something and then work backward to try and outline the non-negotiables — the things that have to get done. This will help give you a loose routine yet still provide plenty of flexibility to allow for the unexpected you know will happen! (Which is exactly why I blocked in 15 minutes to brush hair and teeth!)
Create Zones in Your Home
I don’t know what it is but it seems like once the school year starts so does the avalanche of stuff being brought into your house!
The papers, artwork, newsletters, gym bags and backpacks, school supplies, sports equipment…. it all comes home with them so you know you need to create a place for all if it.
Set up zones around your home to handle the influx of stuff coming in to keep from random stuff just piling around everywhere.
Some areas to think through when setting zones might include”
- Backpacks: Where do you want them to be stored at the end of the day? On a hook in the entryway, in their rooms, or another designated space?
- School papers: Most schools tend to wait until one day to send home all the papers from the previous week, including graded work, important newsletters, and fliers, as well as other projects they completed. You might not be able to go through them all right the minute they come in so where would you like them stored? On a tray on your desk? A mailbox cubby? Closet shelf? Pick a spot and label it!
- Art Projects & Keepsakes: Several of the things they bring home are going to be things you or your child will want to keep. Where will you store those items? In a basket? A file box? A shelf in the closet? Create a spot to house only the items worth keeping.
- Gym bags & Sports Equipment: If your child is older and participates in after-school activities, there are items that pertain specifically to that sport or activity. Where do you want them to store that equipment? In their room? In the garage? In the mudroom? Designate a spot and teach your kids to put the items there every single day!
- Homework & Art Supplies: You know you will need to keep arts and crafts supplies handy, not just for homework but also for when creativity strikes! Rather than letting it turn into a cluttered mess, how will you store it? In baskets or jars? In a cabinet or drawer? In a closet? Get that spot organized with your kids’ help. It has a better chance of staying neat and tidy if your kids take part in it as well!
- Books: We are avid readers so we have lots and lots of book around our home and they can quickly get out of hand if we aren’t on top of storing them correctly. I keep several book baskets around the house so we always have good books within arm’s reach. Each child also has a bookshelf dedicated to books in their rooms. If your books are taking over the house, decide how you will organize and keep them contained, yet visible and within reach.
Dust Off the Meal Plan
Have long, lazy summer days left you in a meal plan rut either with super simple meals or just eating out a lot?
If you have been like me and you’ve let the meal plan take a rest on the shelf, it’s time to pull it back out and get back into a routine of regularly planning meals. It will save you tons of time and money to have a basic plan of what you will eat each day.
If you need a little encouragement of how to quickly set up a meal plan, head here and give yourself just 10 minutes to plan a month’s worth of easy meals.
Check out the CHK Seasonal Meal Planner for a complete custamizable all-in-one meal planning system
Build a Lunch Station
School lunches are coming and it’s time to get on top of those now! If your child regularly takes his or her lunch to school each day, you’ll want to create a little organization station in the kitchen to house all of the supplies you will need each day to create lunches.
Items might include:
- lunch containers
- Ziploc sandwich baggies or reusable bags
- silicon molds – for frozen yogurt
- lunchbox or paper sacks
- lunch notes
- portable silverware
Along with creating a zone for basic lunch supplies, you might also want to take inventory in your pantry or the refrigerator and create a space to house common food items you will reach for every day.
- Sandwich bin in the refrigerator for lunch meat and cheeses
- Snack basket in the pantry for quick on-the-g0 snack baggies
- Fresh cut up fruit and vegetables ready to go
- Frozen yogurt pops in the freezer
Check Those Closets
Have you gone through their closets yet? Do you know what clothes they need to buy?
One thing I am continually learning, yet somehow always amazed, is how quick they outgrow certain items. A shirt may fit perfectly fine one day and then the next it shows their midriff. Same with pants or shoes.
Set aside an hour or two to go through each of your child’s closet, preferably with them so they can try on questionable items.
Make a list of clothing items you know you will need to purchase then prioritize your shopping trip based on what they need right away and what can wait.
For example instead of spending the bulk of your budget loading up on jeans, pants, and sweaters they most likely can’t wear in August, purchase the items they will need for the next two months like short sleeve t-shirts, light pants or shorts, items to layer with, new undergarments and shoes.
Also, don’t forget to include school supplies on the shopping list! Now is the best time to stock up on crayons, pencils, paper, and notebooks at rock bottom prices.
Change the Clock
Finally, in your attempt to get yourself back into the school routine, it’s also time to start changing the clock to readjust your family’s sleep cycles. Knowing back-to-school comes with an early wake-up time, start with adjusting the bedtime routine first.
Slowly begin pushing the time up to the ideal bedtime your children need for a good night’s sleep. Along with adjusting their bedtime, begin gently waking them up in the morning to get their day started.
Get back into the habit of creating a nighttime routine before bed such as laying out clothing for the next day, getting backpacks ready, making lunch, setting out breakfast dishes or anything that will make your mornings run smooth.
If you need more inspiration to set up a routine, check out these posts:
What are some things you are doing today to help get your family back-to-school ready?
*This post was updated from the archives and was originally posted on 8/1/16