The first day of school is almost here, and if memories of last year (hello: morning rush, lunchbox burnout, and mood-destroying homework battles) have you feeling stressed, there's good news: This season is all about starting a new routine. And with a few tweaks, your days will run as smooth as almond butter.
We tapped parenting bloggers (and fellow moms) to find out how they make school days less stressful for everyone, from morning to night. Feel free to steal their sanity-savers:
1. Let kids get ready by themselves. (No, really.)
“Teach your kids to get moving when an alarm clock goes off and enforce consequences for not doing it. They’ll learn it’s their job to make sure they’re ready on time, not yours. Someday, they’ll be in a dorm room and you won’t be there to get them out of bed.” — Hilary Erickson, founder of Pulling Curls blog.
“Checklists help my boys know what to expect. Their morning [list] gives them all the steps they need to get ready, like go potty, brush teeth, get dressed, and eat breakfast.” — Tiffany Konecko, founder of Farmulosity blog.
2. Place all bags by the door.
“What helps the most in the mornings is to place every item we need at the door the night before. That includes the kids’ book bags, items for school projects, and my tote bag for work. The bigger the pile of bags in front of the door, the better I feel that our family hasn't forgotten a thing.” — Brittany Wise, founder of Our Home Made Easy blog.
3. Plan for a quick—but still nutritious—breakfast.
“I make sure to always kick off my daughter's morning with something simple that can be quickly thrown together. By starting her day with a filling, healthy, and nutritious breakfast, it provides structure and ensures she is ready to learn and play.” — Geneva Karwoski, founder of Cosmic American blog.
“Over the weekend, kids can help make breakfast for the week ahead. Something like breakfast burritos can be thrown together and frozen for later. Or, set up a mini-buffet of available options like fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal, and teach them how to help themselves when they wake up.” — Samantha Barnes, found of Raddish Kids blog.
4. Keep a running list of lunch ideas (thanks, Pinterest!).
“Deciding what to pack for school lunches is half the work. Print out lunch ideas on the refrigerator so you can quickly figure out what to grab (and also what you need from the grocery store).” — Kelle Hampton, founder of kellehampton.com.
5. Do homework on the go.
“If your family has lots of after-school activities, create an on-the-go homework bag so kids can tackle schoolwork from anywhere. Pack homework, desk supplies, and a clipboard to work on. Siblings can do their homework as they sit and wait, and kids with activities can work in the car during the commute.” — Nicole Black, founder of Coffee and Carpool blog.
6. Get dinner and lunch done in one fell swoop.
“With three kids, getting everything done before bedtime can make some evenings hectic. Having a regular dinnertime helps. Ours is 6 p.m. and we stick to it. After dinner, I pack up lunch bags, which is especially easy when we have leftovers they would enjoy the next day.” — Catherine McCord, founder of Weelicious blog.
7. Roll back bedtime.
“It's so easy to let bedtime be later during the long days of summer. But kids need nine to 11 hours of sleep at night. Having well-rested kids makes everything easier in the morning and helps them learn better during the day.” — Carly Campbell, founder of Mommy on Purpose blog.
“To motivate kids to get ready for bed, create a privilege that only happens around bedtime — like reading a story or a few minutes of cuddle time — and you’ll have to cut short or eliminate if your child is stalling.” — JoAnne Crohn, founder of No Guilt Mom blog.
8. Build in some downtime.
“School and work can be stressful, so take some time to relax and enjoy your kids. Play a game of Minecraft together, color, take a walk, or kick a ball. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just anything fun and not school-related.” — Amber Faust, founder of Faust Island blog.
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