You may rejoice at the thought of the kids going back to school, but in the back of your mind there is probably also a little trepidation. This time of year not only means adjusting to schedules again, but also adding things like extra-curricular activities, music lessons, dance classes, competitions, ballgames, and the like. Drop-offs, pick-ups, coordinating, last minute changes, can leave you overwhelmed.
Here are some ideas to help you simplify your life and make things run smooth:
Family council meeting
Schedule a Sunday evening meeting with everyone in the family sitting down together and putting the upcoming week on a calendar. Work out all logistics before the week begins. Make everyone aware that if things are added after the meeting, they are added on a contingency that you will try to make them work with no guarantees. Give each member of the family a small planner to coordinate.
Work out your menu so that the most hectic evenings are assigned the simplest meals. Cook ahead when you can. The same time in the kitchen can prepare one meal or seven.
This might sound silly, but having spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find kids and/or spouse when we scatter is really frustrating. When you go school shopping at the mall, attend a football game, or other outings, have a small parking area that is yours. Then try to park as close to that spot every time you go. Instruct everyone that when they finish they are to report back to the car and give them a deadline.
Split up the load
If your job is coordinating and shuffling, then everyone else needs to share the load of chores. Give each member of the family a chore or two based on their capabilities as well as their schedule. Everyone works together to make it work.
Use a master calendar
In addition to everyone having their own planner, purchase a large desktop calendar for the kitchen wall to make it accessible. Teach everyone that they are responsible for checking it daily for revisions or additions.
Try to make library trips at a regularly scheduled day and time and have one central location where the books are kept. Post the return date slip on the refrigerator so that you can make certain all books are returned.
Besides library books, find a "home" for all school baggage, sports equipment, band instruments, etc. so that they can grab and go when it is time.
Make homework as routine as possible. Set up a good environment for them. Encourage them. Set up a reward system for those who tend to "forget" they have homework.
Be a snoop
Check their folders and book bags daily. There is nothing worse than finding stinky gym clothes, wet bathing suits, undone homework, nasty week-old lunch sacks, or old notifications when it's too late to do anything about them.
Make up a cheat sheet with all the pertinent info before school starts to make filling out the emergency contact information sheets easier. Write down doctors, hospitals, their contact numbers, insurance numbers, etc., and have them ready. That first week is hectic enough without having to search for this information.
Babysitter on call
Working late? Something came up? Stuck in traffic? Have a contingency plan for small children. A mom in the neighborhood who can pick them up and keep them or a high schooler who lives nearby. Also think about giving a spare key to a neighbor you can trust. Make sure older children have their own key.
There is a big transition from the leisure of summer vacation to the chaos of the returning-to-school routine, but thinking ahead can make it a little smaller and more manageable.