September. How did we get here?
The summer months were filled with lazy mornings, popsicles, pool days, camps and lots of hot, sticky fun. Whether you spent it kicking back and relaxing with the kids or navigating a logistical summer camp nightmare, the autumn equinox is right around the corner, and you can practically smell fall.
I don’t know about you, but I love September. The kids are back in school (yes, I said it), and there’s something comforting about being in the swing of the school year and settling into new routines. As a full-time working mom to a preschooler and first grader, I’ve learned a few things in my short time as a parent of school aged kids. With the back-to-school rush in the rearview mirror, I want to share a few tips and ideas to help finetune your routine and ease the chaos that can come with getting littles to and from school.
Prep for mornings in the evenings
I know we’ve all heard this one a million times before but seriously, lay out clothes and prep backpacks and lunches the night before. Have a dedicated space where these things go, and make sure all is in order before bed. I have one kid in a uniform (the best!) and another who is pretty chill about what he wears, so I simply spend a few minutes on Sunday evenings and set out five outfits for the coming week. Done.
Create a focus zone and structured work time
Now that most of our kids are back in school and the homework is rolling in, make sure you have a space in your home for kids for focus. If you’re the parent of an ADHD kid like I am, it’s extra important to set them up for success with an area that has what they need to do their work distraction free (tbh, this is relevant for any kid.) My first grader knows that when he gets home, he can have a quick snack and drink then it’s homework before play or screentime. A form of bribery? Sure. But it’s best to get homework out of the way for us. Different routines will work for different families, so find your groove and go from there.
Lean into the family calendar
Ladies, how many times have our husbands said, “you definitely never told me that” only for us to say, “… it’s on the calendar.” Because it’s a frequent occurrence here. At the start of each month, check the family calendar to make sure standing activities like soccer and swimming are noted. Add notices for school activities and birthday party invites as they come home. I’m pretty low tech and prefer a physical calendar in my kitchen so it’s in my face and I can see it daily. But whatever you tool of choice is, keep your obligations up to date in a central place to avoid forgotten school picture days, haircuts and more.
Look for the gaps
If you already have a solid routine underway, take a step back and assess the gaps. Does your carpool setup make sense? How is the afterschool program going? Does your kid need more help with their homework than you expected? I quickly saw that my first grader needed enrichment in some areas and help in others. So, I reached out to Maddy at Beyond the Classroom Tutoring and signed him up for weekly sessions. They have in-person and virtual options available, which is so much easier than coordinating another drop off. Make it a habit to check in with yourself throughout the year and adjust along the way as needs change.
Make time for mindfulness
A while ago at bedtime we started asking our kids what their favorite part of the day was. As typical bedtime stalling tactics go, it’s morphed into the favorite part of your day, the hardest part of your day, and the funniest part of your day. They even ask for our moments (again, bedtime stalling tactics 101.) Even though I’m dead tired at this point in the evening, I look forward to this 1:1 moment everyday as a great time to practice mindfulness and foster two-way communication with our kids.