With just a week to go until most Australian kids go back to school for a new year, it’s time to get organised. Whether your child is starting school for very first time or going back for a new year, being organised is essential. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re a hamster running at 100 miles and hour in a wheel, yelling at the kids, just to make sure everyone gets to school on time and with shoes on!! Believe me it will send you loopy. I’ve put together 10 tips which I think really help to restore calm to the school term – for EVERYONE.
1. RE-ESTABLISH THE BEDTIME ROUTINE
My guess is that the school holidays have created havoc with any hint of a bedtime routine you used to have. It’s certainly the case in my house!! Once school goes back, the kids are going to need to get the right amount of sleep in order to cope, otherwise it will just be melt down central in your house. To combat the change in routine being a complete shock to their systems, I would start implementing it from around a week before school starts. Getting enough sleep will make the new school routines so much easier for everyone to ease into.
I did a little research as these are the recommended number of hours sleep children should be getting per night.
- AGES 3-6: 10-12 hours – bedtime around 7pm
- AGES 7-12: 10-11 hours – bedtime around 8pm
- AGES 12-18: 8-9 hours – bedtime around 9pm
2. CHECK THE SCHOOL WEBSITE
Most schools will have some sort of ‘back to school’ information up on their websites prior to the first day of school. Make sure you check it to familiarise yourself with:
- School starting and finishing times
- Which classroom your kids need to be at on the first day
- Uniform information
- Any important dates you need to be aware of for the first few days/weeks
- Canteen opening times plus menus
- Stationary lists
- Where and how to buy school bus tickets
- After school care information
3. LABEL EVERYTHING
I can vouch first hand for how many things like drink bottles and hats go mysteriously missing. It’s not cheap to keep replacing missing items and you have a much greater chance of things finding their way back home if they are labelled. I order my kids labels from Bright Star Kids. I’ve found that they stick to plastic well and don’t come off in the dishwasher. For everything else, I just use a good old sharpie.
4. CREATE HOUSE RULES
This one is so important as it really helps to keep busy schedules running more smoothly. It’s also super important to make sure that the kids are involved in creating the rules, and that they fully understand them before school starts. Some examples of our term time rules are:
- Kids can only watch TV in the mornings when they are fully ready for school (routine charts can help with this).
- School bags are unpacked before afternoon tea.
- Homework comes before screens.
- No screens in their bedrooms after 7pm, unless it’s for homework.
- School uniforms are ready and bags packed before bedtime.
5. ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE
I’ve learnt the hard way a little with this one. Unfortunately the more you do for your kids, the less they seem to be able to do for themselves. As they get older and life gets busier, this starts to become VERY unhelpful. They may whinge and complain, but they more they learn to do things for themselves, the more confidence and independence they will gain from it. It also helps them think ahead and make better decisions and choices (and stops you from becoming their personal slave).
Some examples of things school age kids really should be doing themselves:
- Making their own beds
- Tidying their bedrooms
- Packing and unpacking their bags.
- Putting dirty in the laundry
- Get their uniforms ready for school the night before.
- Taking responsibility of lost items.
I often just did these things for my kids because I liked it done a certain way (ie: perfect). That very quickly bit me in the bum and I ended up doing everything while they sat glued to the TV waiting until it was time to go. Not anymore!! I have now learned to deal with the imperfectly made bed, and it’s amazing how much more time in the mornings I have for me!
6. CREATE OR PRINT VISUAL ROUTINE CHARTS
It’s a well known fact that if you can visually see what you’re meant to do, you’re much more likely to achieve it. That’s why we write our goals down and make lists right? The same goes for kids. If they have their morning and evening routines printed out for them and kept on their bedroom doors (for example) they are 100% more likely to follow them.
‘The Organised Housewife’ has a fantastic range of printable kids routine charts HERE.
7. EVERYTHING NEEDS A HOME
If there is a place for everything at home, then in theory, you should always know where things are. This can really help make the morning rush and homework tasks (for example) a lot less stressful. Some things you could do to help:
- Have a homework station, with everything they need to do their homework. This way pencil cases left at school don’t become an issue.
- Store hats, shoes, rain coats etc in a specific place, so they are easily and quickly accessible when needed.
- Tell your kids where you want the dirty washing and lunch boxes to go, so they don’t get put in random places or left at the bottom of bags!
- Have a dedicated place for sports equipment, so it’s easy to pack for after school activities.
8. PRE-PREPARE SCHOOL LUNCHES
School lunches can become a really boring and repetitive task very quickly. The best way to make lunches more interesting for the kids and a less stressful task for parents is to PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE! I usually do a bake off on the weekend and store a weeks worth of goodies in the freezer. It takes the ‘thinking’ out of creating lunch it on busy mornings. Here are a few great collections of lunch box inspiration:
- 50 Freezable lunch box snacks from ‘One handed Cooks”.
- 22 Fast and simple lunch box recipes from ‘Bake Play Smile’.
- Loads of lunch box ideas from ‘The Organised Housewife’.
- Five hot and cold lunch box ideas from ‘Fat Mum Slim’
- The best thermomix lunch box snack from ‘Mrs D plus 3’
9. DON’T MAKE YOUR KIDS FRIENDS FOR THEM
This may sound a little strange but it’s so easily done. If you know a nice mum who has kids at the same school as yours, it’s so easy to push the two sets of kids together. Sometimes it works, but sadly is often does not. Give your kids the independence of making their own new friends. Encourage them to say hello to other children in their new class and ask them to play at lunch time. This really helps to build both self confidence as well as resilience. Just like us, kids will gravitate to those they have stuff in common with, even it’s climbing the monkey bars, playing shopkins or kicking a footy. Just because parents have things in common does not always mean the kids will too.
10. DON’T OVER THINK IT
Wowers, if you’re made it to the bottom of this post then I am very impressed! Biggest bit of advice I can give you is to not sweat the small stuff.
Good luck for the new school year, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome.