10 tips to make the back-to-school routine totally stress-free
It is nearing that time of year again, when we all have to admit that summer has come and gone, and that back-to-school time has rolled around once more.
I, for one, have always loved start-of-term time. It almost feels like a second chance at New Years, when everything is fresh and new and you haven't yet let any great resolutions fall by the wayside.
In fairness, I think we all feel the same at the cusp of a new school year; as in that this will be the year when we are on the ball. When mornings run smoothly, when the school run always happens on time, when every single lunch box is filled with the most exciting and healthy treats know to man and when family life just runs perfectly efficient and organized – every single morning.
Sounds good to you too? Here are 10 clever tricks for at least attempting a more streamlined and happier back-to-school routine (fingers crossed we can see it through until next June!)
1. Communicate the plan
As we all know, when it comes to big projects involving the whole team (or, in this case, family), clear communication is key for establishing both objectives and realistic expectations.
Your spouse or children are not mind readers (much as that would be handy!), so sit down and discuss how you think mornings should happen now that school is back on again.
2. Get up 20 minutes before everyone else
It might feel unfair that you have to rise while everyone else is still snoozing away in their warm, lovely beds, but believe me, you will soon discover just what a head start this gives you on things.
And not only that, I think I actually need those quiet minutes, when the house is still and un-chaotic and just mine to breathe, drink some hot lemon water and just mentally prepare myself for the day.
Not only does it ensure that by the time the kids get up, I am already dressed and made up and ready to help them get ready, it also means that I feel happier having had some time just to myself – those moments are important, mamas.
3. Start night prepping
Fact: The more you can do the night before, the easier the morning will be.
It will be even easier the more detailed and overly prepared you are. As in, lay out all the clothes (yours and the kids'), even details like belts, hair clips and accessories. Iron anything that needs ironing, check the forecast to see do you need to have things like umbrellas or sunscreen ready too and last, back the bags and leave them by the door, ready to grab and go.
4. Practice the sleep routine
This might be the first one you need to start working on, preferably a few days before school is back on, as summer holidays tend to be when 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 actually get to the first day of school.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate
To those of you with children who are old enough to help out with things like packing their own lunches or organizing their school bags, let them do so, at least for some mornings every week.
Not only will this free up some time for you, mamas, it will also help develop a child's sense of responsibility.
6. Divide and conquer like a pro
Getting the family ready to leave in the morning is a team effort, and the best way of getting everything done on time is to apply the divide and conquer method.
While one person helps the kids get dressed, hair brushed and ready for the day; the other one can dish out breakfast, pack lunch boxes and tidy up the kitchen after, making everything ready for dinner time when you get home.
7. Prepacked backpack
This one will be such a time-saver: When the homework is done, get the kids to pack the backpacks and put them by the door, lid open. This means that the following day, all is ready to just plop the lunchbox in, grab and go.
8. Stay calm
If you have been a mother for a while now, you will have no doubt learned that your own mood and tone will greatly impact your kids' behaviour. As in, if you are stressed, things will quickly escalate and no-one will be happy.
Even if you are feeling like barking out orders and shouting at everyone to get ready, try taking some deep breaths and explain calmly why everyone needs to get ready now.
9. Tidy and reset before bed
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. Keep a realistic perspective
Here's the thing about life and motherhood and things in general: No matter how prepared you are, how meticulously you have planned, sometimes things don't go to plan and guess what? That's perfectly fine.
Whether it is a forgotten piece of paper, a child throwing a tantrum or eggs that got burned, just breathe, get on with things and remember that in the grand scheme if things, running late one day or wearing the wrong sweater or having had to do with coffee for breakfast means so very little.
Oh, and tomorrow is a new day, mamas.