Stress-Free Back to School: Routines That Work

school-bus
source: sean dreilinger

Last week I asked you for your best tips for making the back-to-school transition easier. It seemed without exception that every one of the tips centered around having routines in place.

Today, I wanted to take a look at what makes a good routine and how to set up a routine that works for you.

I think there are five key routines for back to school:

  • Morning
  • After-School
  • Homework
  • Bedtime
  • Weekly Prep

It might seem overwhelming to think about developing that many routines, but the benefit of a routine is that it simplifies tasks you have to do anyway. Eventually, they become almost mindless so that you can complete them quickly and without forgetting something important.

Step 1: Make a List

The first step to developing any routine is to think through all of the tasks that you need or want to include as part of that routine. For example, as part of your morning routine, the kids need to get dressed, eat breakfast, make sure they have their lunch and backpack and meet the bus. If your children are younger, you might add brushing hair and teeth to the list if you need to help them with it. And if you like to get your first load of laundry started while they eat breakfast, you should add that too.

Brainstorm all of the tasks – big and small – and group them in two categories: those that you must do and those that you’d like to do.

Step 2: Sketch Out a Routine

Once you have a list of tasks, sketch out a sample routine and try it out. The key here is to know it’s not going to go perfectly the first day. In fact, it probably won’t go perfectly for the first week  or even longer. During that time, you’ll be able to try things in different orders and figure out what really is a necessity and what should be taken off the list or moved to a different part of the day. You might also realize you need to add additional tasks to the list.

For example, your after-school routine may include emptying lunch boxes, getting an afternoon snack, going outside to play, etc. You may find that your children need to eat a snack as soon as they walk in the door so that they don’t get grumpy, or you might prefer to send them outside to play while you empty the lunch boxes, prepare snack, etc. You’ll just have to try it a few different ways and see what works best!

Step 3: Print It Out

I’m a list lover. I write lists just to be able to check things off, and my routines are no exception. When I’m developing a new routine, I’ll often write down every little part of it on my daily schedule as I practice it just so that I can be sure nothing is missed.

Having  our routines written out and visible helps us to still get everything done even on days that don’t follow our normal plan. I actually have cards printed out and laminated with our daily routines on them. This means that when my husband is home or I need his help with a routine, all of the tasks are written out and easy to follow. He likes having a written list because he can see what needs to be done and can do them in his own way without me bugging him to get things done.

Do you have daily routines already established that will carryover as the kids head back to school, or will you be developing new routines as you go? Do you usually make a conscious effort to develop routines, or have you just allowed them to develop naturally in the past?

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