Back to School: Smooth Sailing or Rough Seas?


It hardly seems fair to talk about going back to school in the middle of summer but, we all know that a little planning before school begins can save a whole lot of time and hassle later on. Here are 3 simple tips for getting your new school year off to a smooth start.

 1.       Use one calendar

Use it to keep track of everything for everybody and put it in a place where everyone can see it. Track school holidays and events, after school activities, work obligations, family events, doctor’s appointments, play dates, and any other events.  You can be sure something will be missed if you don’t record it all in one place.  It doesn’t matter if you use a paper calendar or an electronic one as long as you make sure you keep it updated. 

When my kids were younger I used the Sandra Boynton’s Mom's Family Wall Calendar  which I liked because it had big boxes to write events and separate columns for each member of the family and it was magnetic so I could put it on my refrigerator. 

 Now that my kids are teenagers, and because there are so many great electronic calendars out there, I no longer use paper.  In now use Cozi as my family calendar.  With Cozi, I can view or edit on my home computer, mobile phone, and iPad.  Since my kids are more computer savvy than me, they can post their own stuff.  But, the best feature of all is that I can now send text or email reminders about posted items.

 2.       Clear all spaces of clutter

It always amazes me how much stuff kids can accumulate over a year, and if you’re like me, as long as it was off the floor, things were good.  That left disorganized drawers and closets. Now is a great time to do a really good de-cluttering of bedrooms, closets, and kids’ work spaces. If done right, it frees up space in your home and allows you to see what your kids need for the upcoming school year.

Work with your kids to organize and clean their spaces. You’re going to have to help them make decisions on what to keep, what to trash, and what to give away. There is no right way to organize but there are some general principles that you should follow.

o   Like goes with like. Shirts, dresses, shoes, Legos, collectables, school supplies, etc. Once you have like items together, it is easier to decide what to keep and figure out where it goes.

o   The less you have, the easier it is to find, use, and put away. Throw away all broken/ripped items and trash. Give away or sell all items that are not used or are outgrown. Keep only what is still needed and used and put each item in a specified place (a home). *If your child is having difficulty “letting go” of things, consider putting those things in a box, labeling it with a date, and putting it in the garage or attic for storage. If in 6 months, your child has not asked for any of the stored items, you can probably get rid of them.

o   Don’t overstuff drawers, bins, or closets. Maintaining organization is always a challenge but if all items have homes that are easy to get to, the chances are strong that they will be put away in the right spot.

3.       Build consistent routines

I have a morning routine that I follow every day when I wake up. It never varies. I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, shower, and dress. Because I do the same thing in the same order, my body moves automatically even though my brain may still be asleep. Routines help you get your kids out the door with everything they need with less hassle.

 Consider building routines for:

o   morning: wake up time, daily hygiene, dressing, healthy eating

o   leaving the house: gathering materials, putting on shoes and coats

o   coming home: backpack drop location, snack, physical activity, homework

o   bedtime: winding down, clean up, reading, put out clothes for the next day

The routines you use during the school year are probably different than those you are using in the summer. Since it takes time to build routines, you should start 2-3 weeks before the first day of school so that your child can wake up on time and know what needs to be done in order to have a stress-free morning on the first day of school.

Building good habits takes time and patience but don’t give up. It’s worth it!

Start now

If you want smooth sailing into the school year, don’t wait. Here’s how to put these tips into action now. 

First, choose a type of calendar and start using it by writing down all your family's summer commitments. Next, schedule when you will get your calendar set up, declutter, and create and start using routines.  Record this on your calendar and remember to check it daily.

If you need help, I’m here. I can answer questions, work with you on decluttering and organizing, or coach you or your child in creating and building routines.  Please contact me anytime.

Wishing you best school year ever!