Stress-Free Back to School: Routines That Work


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?

About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

6 Responses to “ Stress-Free Back to School: Routines That Work ”

  1. Like the laminated list idea! I think I will do that for our daily routines – and you can use a washable marker, and re-use it again. I can see how that would come in handy when I do some stuff, my husband some others, or when my mom comes over to babysit for an afternoon or a day.
    Johanne´s last blog ..EC Success! My ComLuv Profile


  2. I like the idea of lists for the children, my older DS has used them to keep him on track.
    Right now I am in the process of evaluating our routines since my youngest starts afternoon K, so that changes the normal flow we had.
    I am focusing more on rescheduling my stuff…when to grocery shop, clean etc. so that he & I may spend more fun time together in the mornings before school.
    mary b´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Flashback to 1967 My ComLuv Profile


  3. [...] you need help establishing more routines in your home Mandi shared some great tips to help you get started. Share and [...]

  4. This is great advice!

    I’m also a list lover (I’ve created more than 550 of them!) because having a list/written down plan takes the stress out of my head and the pressure off my memory.

    Having the essentials mapped out leaves room in my head for taking in what’s going on, and enjoying the moment – instead of worrying about all the things I have to remember.

    Michele :-)
    Michele Connolly, Get Organized Wizard´s last blog ..Getting Organized Quick Tip: How To Schedule Personal & Household Reminders My ComLuv Profile


  5. Our big “issue” is getting up and ready for the day. For some reason, my 6 year old does NOT like to make her bed…hmmm wonder why? ;) However, she’s been doing this since she was 4. She used to get up and get her chores done…now I think she’s realizing it’s a “chore” and therefore, not very fun.
    Britt´s last blog ..New Website Design My ComLuv Profile


  6. [...] Organizing Your Way – back to school routines [...]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled

You can use these XHTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>