As summer break draws to a close, the back-to-school flurry of activities begin—school orientations, final doctor’s appointments, ordering school supplies, figuring out which shoes and clothes still fit and whether or not backpacks can survive another year.
While every spare thought I have is trying to figure out how to chip away at my to-do list, I’m a firm believer in slowly easing our family into our new routine for the fall. It’s going to be a big year. My 5-year-old daughter is starting kindergarten and my son is starting Pre-K2. Fighting back the proud mom tears, I’m trying to wrap my head around our new norm—dropping off kids in two locations, before and after school programs’ start and end times, homework and extracurricular activities. While I realize this is the case for many parents with older children, this is unchartered territory at our house. With both parents working in leadership roles full-time and no family in town, I’m determined to give it our best shot.
Getting Into the New Rhythm
First things first, we’re starting to get the kids to bed a little earlier each week (in the end about 30-45 minutes earlier) leading up to the start of school. We’re also very slowly starting to get my older one up a bit earlier because class starts at a different time. In addition to kindergarten, she wants to start flag football in the fall. We want to prepare her for the balancing act of heading to practice and having games outside of homework.
Can’t. Stop. Moving.
Once I get home from the office, my kids know I don’t sit down (because if I do I’m liable to not get back up). I go straight into their backpacks for any notes we need to follow up on. Then we head to their rooms to choose clothes based on what they need to wear the next day and get their shoes by the front door. (Nobody has time to look for missing shoes in the morning!) We check the calendar for special activities or due dates—anything else goes on a Post-It note by the door.
5-Minute Clean Up
While dinner is in full swing, we swap stories about our days (mine about hilarious co-workers and stressful meetings and hers about the most amazing Legos she built). Before pajamas, I turn on the timer on my phone for 5 or 10 minutes (depending on the kids’ moods), and everyone helps clean an area for that time. Sometimes I’ll play two songs from our playlist, and then we’re done. We get as far as we can together, and I’m amazed what we can finish in such a short time. Since starting this, cleaning a big area doesn’t seem so daunting. It’s helped with our sanity as parents, gives the kids a little ownership of the house and plays into their competitive spirit.
The Night Shift
After stories and bedtime hugs, my husband and I try to prep what we can for the morning routine including any dry goods for lunches, clean sippy cups and water bottles, etc. Between laptop bags, backpacks, sports equipment and lunch kits, it looks like baggage claim, so we set all the bags that have to leave the house by the front door.
If it’s Not By the Door…
The recurring theme is that everything is by the front door because even if it’s a relatively decent night’s sleep, all knowledge has been erased from my memory. This way we have to literally trip over everything in order to get out the door. It’s a solid plan.
It Takes a Village
This is my attempt at a daily routine to get us back on track, and I pick up new tricks each year from other parents. We all know life happens, so planning ahead for what I can control helps keep us moving along. It truly takes a village to raise our kids in this fast-paced society. I’m so thankful for our growing network of moms, dads, friends and sitters who make this all work and are willing to make quick decisions by group text and Google calendars. Armed with a smart phone and a little planning, kindergarten here we come!