I LOVE summer and all the freedom (and ice cream) it offers, but I am the first to admit…by the end of August, I am SO ready to put an end to my kids’ late nights, terrible eating, and general chaos our summers devolve in to. Routines calm me.
Yes, Shana…roll those eyes and give me a big “I want more FUN Linzi!,” but you KNOW there’s something to all of of my “madness”.
Back-To-School Organization Tips For Smooth Kid Routines & Calm Mamas
Routines can be so helpful — especially for my kids. Toward the end of August, I, therefore, like to collect all my tools. The tools that help the transition back to routines go a little bit smoother for ALL of us (me included)…or at least tools to decrease the intensity of some of the back-to-school battles.
**Originally published in 2019 and now updated for Back-To-School Fall 2021: After a very uncertain 2020-2021 school year we are SO looking forward to ALL the routines this September. Someone get me a label maker and a pack of highlighters… I.am.ready.to.schedule!**
This year both of the kids are going back to school five days a week (hooray, hooray!) and everyone (including my vaccinated 13-year-old) is required to wear a face mask. So…this means we need PLENTY of masks that are comfortable, effective and fit well. Masks by the front door, additional masks in their backpacks, and a stock of extra masks that will inevitably get eaten by the laundry monster. We have tried SOOOOOOOO many masks, but my kids still gravitate toward Athleta’s everyday masks. My little guy (8-years-old) wears this size and my big guy (13-year-old) wears the adult size.
Don’t get me started on the benefits of routines. I LOVE a good routine and I LOVE a good checklist to go with it! We have quite a few checklists at the beginning of every school year and not just for homework–we have them for morning routine, afternoon routine and bedtime routine too. We use a very simple typed or handwritten list (nothing even remotely Pinterest-worthy), a magnetic surface, and these wonderful round magnets that my little guy uses to “check things off” when tasks are completed. Giving him a gentle reminder to check his routine list is SO much easier than constantly barking out tasks.
We HAVE to have a system for the ALL the papers that come home from school or we would absolutely drown! Instead of a bulletin board, we have six clipboards hanging on the wall. The school calendar, weekly dinner menu, important forms, and other resources that need to be easily accessed (taken on and off the wall) go on these. We also have individually labeled bins for each family member for all other papers. The 1st of every month is recycling time and the bins have to be sorted.
This is a no-brainer for us. Our big-box stores never seem to have all the stuff we need, and it drives me batty searching multiple stores. I find almost every single thing on our list at Target.com. Done.
Having backpacks that stand out makes it SO much easier to spot your kiddos quickly in the crowded pick-up line. Also obviously easier for them to spot their OWN backpack in the piles on the playground. My little guy carries the Monster pack and my big guy carries a Sprayground.
This is the dishwasher-safe lunch system we have used and loved for years. I have two full sets for each kid so I can rotate them nightly in the dishwasher. We loved this smaller Bentgo for pre-school, but I can fit larger quantities of food in the Bentology system above. When I pack hot lunches, I use this Thermos that comes with a cute little foldable spoon built in.
I am FOREVER searching for the perfect kid water bottle. My requirements are: dishwasher-friendly, lightweight, no chance of opening accidentally in their backpack, won’t flood their desk if accidentally knocked over while open….The one above is the best we’ve found that meet our requirements.
I’ve learned the hard way that if they can’t find their pencil case in their backpack, they’re not going to use it and all their supplies will quickly disappear. Zipit offers a ton of cute and easy-to-spot pencil cases and storage boxes.
An organized mama must! I have two Contigos and rotate them in the dishwasher on the same lunchbox washing schedule. I don’t leave the house in the morning without this guy.
These Boden sweatshirts are the best. My little guy loves to wear them (and my big guy wore them for years and years)–lightweight enough to wear in the fall, but warm enough to take them pretty far in to winter too. There’s never any argument in putting these on, so perfect for mornings when kiddos refuse to put on their actual “winter coat.”
11. Two Pairs of Sneaks To Avoid Morning Crises
In the “beginning,” I was a one-pair-of-sneaks-per-kid kind of mom, but a couple years back I changed my ways. There were WAY too many catastrophic mornings where someone couldn’t find both shoes…even though we of course have a special place shoes are supposed to “live.” Worth the $ to me to avoid these situations, so they now get a soft sporty pair, as well as a waterproof pair that’s good for colder wetter weather.
Back-to-school time means back to pretty strict bedtime routines for us. Having parts of the routine that they really look forward to has helped tremendously. My boys are not big yoga or mindfulness kids, but they have REALLY taken to this essential oil diffuser and picking out their own scents each night, as well as the routine of turning on their salt lamps to start winding down and setting a different mood for bedtime.
What other tricks do you guys have for making the transition back to school a little smoother?