Back to school basics
As the summer holidays come to a close, it is time for parents to turn their attention to getting the kids and themselves ready for heading back to school. This doesn’t mean taking away all of the joy of school holidays – no routines, no lunch boxes, no uniforms! But it does mean taking small actions across the remaining days to ensure a calm and chaos free return to school.
1. Establish a night-time routine for parents
The key to organised school mornings start the night before. At night you can get through tasks much more quickly and with less stress than in the morning when you have little ones around. There are a number of simple things you can do at night to make the mornings run smoother and now is a great time to establish a routine and share the workload amongst family members. Tasks like:
- Set table for breakfast
- Un-stack dishwasher
- General tidy
- Empty the bin/s
- Have clothes ready for the next day
- Check the calendar
- Make to do list
Then once back at school you can then add the following to your family’s established night-time routine:
- Prepare lunch boxes
- Complete school paperwork
- Ensure clean school clothes/uniforms
2. Re-establish sleeping routines for the kids
One of the beautiful elements of summer holidays is the ability to go off routine and have more flexibility with what the kids do when. As the end of school holidays approach, it is a good idea to start getting kids into bed progressively earlier and eventually have them off to bed at their regular school night time before school starts.
To get the kids to go to sleep earlier at night, it may require waking the kids in the morning earlier. Left to their own devices they may be sleeping in well past the time they would need to be up by to get ready for school which, makes it harder for them to get off to sleep at their school bed time. So it isn’t such a shock to the system, gradually waking them earlier can really help prevent grumpy and tired children on the first few days back to school for the year.
3. Locate all the school gear and give them a home
At the end of the year, items for school may or may not have been put away in an orderly fashion. Take an hour or so to locate all the items the kids need for school and find them an appropriate home so they are easy for the kids to find when they need them.
4. Conduct a school clothes or uniform audit
Kids can grow at a rapid rate so it is important to try on all school clothing essentials well before they start back at school to make sure they fit. It is also important to do an audit to make sure all the pieces needed are in the house (eg hats!) and are in good condition. I have spent a number of evenings late in the school holidays darning socks and sewing buttons back on!
5. Lunch box audit
Much like socks that disappear in the wash, containers easily disappear through out the year from lunch boxes. Gather all the items you use to make the kids’ lunch boxes including drink bottles and ensure that you have enough of everything. There are so many great containers, wraps and pockets you can use now to make lunch boxes waste free. Take the opportunity to stock up in the back to school sales if you don’t have enough.
6. Transport arrangements
If the kids use bikes, scooters or you push a pram on the walk to school, take the time to make sure they are all in working order. For older children who may travel by bus or other public transport arrangements, take care of the appropriate paperwork so they can use concession when travelling.
Most importantly take time out of each remaining day to play, read, dance or just be with the kids. Life tends to speed up once school term starts, so take advantage of having them at home while you can.
Nicole Avery is a Melbourne mum to five beautiful kids aged 8 to 18. She is the master organiser behind the popular parenting blog Planning With Kids and the author of a book by the same name, where she shares tips and tricks for organising the chaos of family life.