To help make for a more organized, calm start to the school year, we jotted down some things we practice in our own homes, as well as polled our community for their ideas. Here’s a collective list of 20 things you can put in your toolbox to make the upcoming school year a success for you and your kids! Thank you to all those that messaged us with your amazing ideas!
P.S. If your kids are old enough – have them jump in and help do some of these things too!
1. Pack or set out lunches the night before (room temp items on the kitchen counter and cooled items organized and ready in the fridge). Fill all water bottles and keep in fridge overnight for easy assembly in morning. Our picks for little kids lunch boxes and containers here.
3. Each night before you go to bed, make a list of 6 things you need to accomplish the next day and keep it close by so you can reference easily. We like adding this to the Notes app on our phone. Allison and Laura love this one as it helps get their action items out of their heads and onto paper which makes for a more productive next day.
4. Wake up at least 30 minutes before everyone else in your house. You’ll be able to take some time for yourself to do whatever you need to do to get centered without noise or distraction. Ideas: meditate, take a walk, workout, read a book, read a daily devotional or inspirational entry, make a gratitude list, or simply drink your coffee and chill.
5. Silence all the beeps (laundry, dishwasher, micro, phone on mute, etc.) until kids are out the door. Or leave your phone in another room so you can’t check it. *We’re currently looking into how to silence the dishwasher and microwave beeps – we’ll circle back on that ;) Gretchen takes this to the next level and doesn’t allow any television or technology before school for kids or adults.
“IT’S LIKE NO ONE IN MY FAMILY APPRECIATES THAT I STAYED UP ALL NIGHT OVERTHINKING FOR THEM. ”
6. Keep things they need to get ready in areas that make sense, i.e.:keep socks near the shoes. If your kids’ shoes are all in the mudroom - keep a basket of socks in there also so they are not running to their room to find socks then running back across the house to put shoes on.
7. If you have girls, create a little hair caddy like this or this with detangler spray, a brush and rubber bands and keep handy for wherever it is you are doing your daughter’s hair. Laura keeps hers in a cabinet near the kitchen, as that is where the hair seems to get done vs. in the bathroom.
8. If making lunches the night before isn’t your thing – try delegating lunches to your spouse, or, if your kids are old enough…have them make their own lunches. Also, see number 19 below!
9. Set a timer (we love this visual one!) that is the “time to get shoes on and pack up” alarm about 5-10 minutes before you need to leave. Practice a few times – but this allows them to key into the “time” and it’s not just you yelling at them.
10. Have a Friday breakfast treat (think donuts) or a “Friday fun song” on the way to school (if you drive your kids). Gretchen started this and Laura followed suit. Each Friday, the PARENT picks a song that they think is fun and blasts it on the way to school. The more embarrassing the better! It’ll put you in a great mood (Think Whoomp! There It Is).
11. Do a 10 or 5 minute meditation from the Aura or Calm app just before pick-up to re-set yourself and gear up for the afternoon/sports/homework and dinner rush. Allison takes a CBD gummy. We love these cbd calming gummies (use code JTI20 for 20% off) by oHHo to help "take the edge off."
12. Unpack backpacks, lunches, water bottles immediately upon walking in the door from school. Check folders, and sign things right away so you don’t forget. Do not race to the potty or pantry!
13. Run the dishwasher every night for a fresh start. If you don’t have a full load and are worried about wasting water, consider running it on eco mode or half load so you only use as much water as you need but still have clean dishes for a fresh start in the morning.
14. Do at least one load of laundry every day to stay ahead of it.
15. If meal planning for the week feels stressful – just try thinking about three simple meals your family likes and have the ingredients ready to go for the week. You can cook them on the days that make sense and fill in other days with Chick Filet, etc. This can help take the pressure off the idea you have to cook something on a specific day.
16. Create specific files in your email account for each kid’s class and activities. Keep your emails organized so you can go back and reference them easily.
17. If you are able, do as much dinner prep as you can while your kids are at school so dinner doesn’t take so long. Wash and cut lettuce for the salad and store in fridge, prepare the breaded chicken tenders, put on sheet pan and place in fridge so they can go right into the oven at dinnertime, make a salad dressing and store it, etc. The less you have to do at actual dinnertime, the better!
18. Pop in your earbuds or AirPods and listen to a Podcast as you’re picking up and doing mundane tasks around the house (i.e. laundry, dishes, sorting clothes, etc.) It will be much more enjoyable and the time will fly by. We are currently loving Smartless, Skinny Confidential and Sibling Revelry.
19. Order hot lunch for your kids! We give you permission. It’s ok. Gretchen especially likes this on a Monday so she isn’t hit with that first thing.
20. Pre-pack all sports bags and equipment for after school activities so they are ready to go and you are not rushing around trying to find those darn soccer socks.