1. Update your family tech rules. Summer “screen time” will no doubt change with the start of the school year. Decide what works best for your family – TV only after homework is completed, video games only on the weekend – and talk to your kids about these limits.
2. Bedtime means sleep time. Set a “disconnect” time for cell phones, texting, iPads and other gadgets to help your child unwind and get to sleep. Your personal sleep patterns will also greatly improve if you take your own advice.
3. Buy enough socks and underwear. When purchasing school uniforms and the new back-to-school wardrobe for your kids, it’s easy to overlook the basics. Take advantage of back to school sales and stock up on new undergarments for your kids. Trust me, teen boys will rarely tell you they are running low on underwear!
4. Stock up on your office supplies. It’s always fun to buy new school supplies. When you get home, set up a designated area (French chefs call it mise en place – having everything you need prepped and ready to go) as the go-to drop off point for backpacks, books and desk supplies to eliminate a frantic search when you need something. Keep an orderly desk to show a good example to your kids and teens. I bought two packages of colored markers, one for my daughter and one for myself – fun!
5. Streamline the morning routine. Do as much as you can the night before to help ensure that getting out the door happens with a minimum amount of panic. Develop a routine for choosing outfits, making lunches and packing backpacks. Write down and post a list of your child’s responsibilities in getting themselves ready in the morning and set up rewards for meeting goals. Buy a decorative chalk board and display it where everyone will know what they need to do.
6. Organize your calendar. Take a few minutes to update your calendar with after-school activities, open houses, school holidays and parent-teacher conferences. A three-ring binder with dividers is a great way to organize notes from the school, newsletters and flyers about upcoming events. By the time I read an email from the school, open countless invitations and notices in the mail, and read the notes coming home from each class, I’m overloaded and tend to lose track. A good old fashioned binder keeps everything together where I can easily find it.
7. Stock up on do-it-yourself breakfasts. Keep cereal, milk, toast, fruit, yogurt or whatever else your kids like within easy grabbing distance. One idea: make pancakes or waffles on the weekend and freeze them for kids to pop in the toaster each morning and top with syrup, jam or peanut butter. Have them set their own breakfast table the night before, and remind them to set a place for you.
8. Breathe. Now that the kids have successfully begun another school year, find the time to do something for yourself. Whether you work in or outside of the home, take some time to relax and enjoy the start of a new school year.