Back to reality again: 10 easy ways to ease into routines again after the holidays
The end of the Christmas break nearing, and whether you feel elated or devastated at the thought of sending your little ones back to school again, there is no denying that being prepared will make everything so much easier.
Are you ready? Here are 10 little tips that will make the switch back to reality that much smoother:
1. Figure out a morning plan
Like all great projects, school mornings also need a carefully crafted plan in order for them to run like clockwork – which, for your own sanity – you need them to do.
Sit the family down, decide on what is going to happen and how. Who is going to be making the lunch boxes, who is in charge of getting (young) children dressed, who is packing school bags, who is dropping, collecting and so on and so forth. With everyone knowing what they are in charge of and what they have to do every morning, chances are much higher you will all get out the door on time.
2. Invest in a 2021 wall planner or calendar
You can find these in many shapes and sizes, but in our house, we have this wall sticker chalkboard planner on the kitchen wall, and I can't tell you how easy it is to in one glance be able to see everything that is happening the week in question.
We are also in love with the super-handy rForget-Me-Not Family Calendar from Irish company Bold Bunny – complete with space to fill in activities for the whole family, stickers, reminders etc – in others words, the secret weapon all mums need for an organised life!
3. Set up a work station
Whether it’s the dining room table or the desk in their room, designate an organized, clutter-free space where homework can happen.
Make it inviting by adding funky desk accessories, have plenty of pencils and paper available and make sure the desk is free from distractions like toys or any electrical gadgets.
4. Do a practice run
Practice getting ready for school on time again.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate
Talk to the kids about how school mornings (and afternoons) are going to be once again. The theory here is that the more ownership a kid feels over their routine, the easier it will be for them to execute it.
Older children should absolutely be able to make their own lunch boxes, get dressed themselves and make sure everything that needs to be in their school bag for the day is in it.
6. Listen to their feelings
Invite your children to vent about their hopes and anxieties surrounding the return to school again– in the hope that when you do have to switch back to reality for real, they are more emotionally equipped to do just that.
7. Start meal prepping
Meal prepping is a real buzz word these days, and one you actually should be getting on board with. Not only will this clever way of planning your meals ensure that the whole family eats healthier, it will also help you waste less food and never again suffer from the dreaded "what the heck are we going to eat" panic.
How to get started? Take stock of your pantry and freezer, write a proper shopping list (of everything you need to buy and everything you plan to cook for dinners and lunches for the week ahead). Aim to overlap ingredients where possible, so that at the end of the week you will have used up all the fresh produce you bought.
Get the prep out of the way on Sunday night. By prep I mean chop up veggies for stir-fries, make freeze-ahead bags of fruit and veggies for smoothies, prepare some overnight oats for a healthy breakfast for the next couple of days, and invest in lots of new clear plastic and glass containers to make it easy to store leftovers and ready-chopped ingredients.
8. Practice the sleep routine
Christmas break tends to be a time where we ease up on routines a little, and everyone stays up later and sleeps in a little longer.
Try gently shifting the schedule a few days before you really need to get into the routine, and this might make the early mornings easier to handle when you are easing into the first few weeks of school.
9. Tidy and reset
This doesn't have to take long, and I am not talking a full-on cleaning the house, but rather just take a few minutes every evening before bed to breeze through the house and "reset," so that everything is ready for the next day. Nothing is as stressful as waking up to chaos, and it will set you (and the kids) off to a bad start for the day.
Instead, try tidying up stray items, blitz the kitchen table and counter and make sure the rooms you have to use in the morning look organized and neat – it will make a big difference to how your day starts.
10. Enjoy your kids
You might be itching to get back into routines again, but trust us, busy schedules will be here soon enough, so make sure you take some time these last couple of days before reality kicks in and just enjoy your kids. Have a pyjama day, go for a hike, visit a new playground — anything, really, as long as you do it together.