It seems that just as soon as you get into the groove of summer, it’s time to get ready for school again. How can you make the transition as painless as possible? I suggest concentrating on three areas: stuff, time, and team.
First, control the stuff. Clutter is the enemy of your back-to-school schedule. First, clean house by getting rid of the unimportant stuff that is keeping you from finding the important stuff. Ruthlessly throw away clutter from desks, entryways, and closets. Next, sort through school clothes. Your schedule is toast if the kids can’t get dressed every morning. My children have uniforms, so I check every item, sew on buttons, let down hems, and order new items as needed. Next, check supplies and equipment and make sure each child’s supplies and backpack have a “home base” where they will be when not at school. Sturdy hooks in the entryway are a solution I have used to keep backpacks handy on hectic mornings. Fourth, plan for lunches by trying new recipes in the summer before you pack them for school. Hillbilly Housewife has some great lunchbox ideas to try.
Next, plan the time. Begin by collecting a school calendar for the coming year, including athletic schedules if your kids play sports. Put important dates on your calendar. Then get the calendar for any other activities, e.g. church, piano, dance, or volunteer work, and merge this information into the calendar. Write out a summary of each day, e.g. Monday: tutoring after school till 4:00, soccer at 6:00. Next, do a trial run of the morning commute to see what time you need to leave the house to be on time (allowing for the fact that there won’t be a carpool line in the summer!) Once you determine your commute time determine wake-up time and bedtime. Gradually get your kids going to bed earlier until they are on the school schedule by opening day.
Finally, recruit your team. Knowing your schedule means you can call neighbors and make carpool plans. With several children, this can seem a bit like planning the Normandy Invasion, but you can do it! After assembling your carpool team, finish off with your emergency team. You need a list of relatives and neighbors you can count on when something happens to the schedule. List your emergency team and their contact information in big print on a sheet of paper and make copies. Laminate a copy to keep at home, in each vehicle, and at the office. Be sure your children know what to do in emergencies and who is allowed to pick them up if you can’t.
Most important of all, keep a good attitude. Let your children know this is going to be a great year. You will be ready!