Back to School Organizing – Start Now for a Better School Year
When it comes to back to school organizing, we’ve never lived through such unpredictable times. Unpredictability makes planning difficult. However, kids thrive on routines. And as much as we may not want to admit it, so do adults. This is particularly true for children and adults with ADHD. But how do you build routines that are easy to stick to, offer enough flexibility to change as needed, and give you a sense of empowerment over the days?
Automate Your Brain
When it comes to back to school organizing and building routines, you can take strategies you’ve used at work and in managing your household and apply them to the scenario. Many of the benefits of strong time management and organization are built on a foundation of routine. Train your brain, your body, and your habits to more automatically do the things you need them to do for you – and teach your kids to not only commit to routine but to recognize how much better it is to have a routine.
Show Your Kids the Benefit of Back to School Organizing in their Terms
Your kids aren’t going to care whether or not routines save you stress. What’s in it for them? When you can show them that by having routines in place – and following them – they can sleep a little longer or play a little more or watch a favorite show before or after school, that’s how you’ll get them on board. And for successful back to school organizing, you do want the cooperation of your kids. Here are some routines than can help.
Routines Improve Time Management and Back to School Organization
Spend time thinking of the times when your family is most impacted by lack of time management or organization the most. For some of us, it’s literally just being able to get out the door on time in the mornings and making sure everyone is where they need to be with everything they’re supposed to have – on time. For many of us, the time between dinner and bed can be the most challenging. We’re tired; the kids may be wound up. We’re already stressing about tomorrow; the kids need our time and attention. To make mornings and evenings easier, create routines that work for your family.
Established routines can help you get out the door in the mornings. You and the kids should have a scheduled wake-up time that is early enough to make getting ready easier. Kids need time to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, make their beds, and gather what they need for school that day. You can make that part easier by making sure homework is done the night before and everything is carefully packed the night before.
Set up a routine during the week where the kids come home from school, grab a snack, and do their homework. If they don’t have any homework, then physical activity or reading time for 30 minutes is always a good way to spend some time. Establishing these habits early can ensure they last well into college.
Have a family meal
As often as possible, have a meal at the table for dinner that includes the whole family. Enlist the help of your children with prep, cleanup, and even cooking. Spend mealtime talking to your kids about the day at school (this is a stress-free time where some kids with ADHD or Aspergers will often remember they have papers for you to sign, or projects they need you to know about). Studies have shown that a family meal can make a huge difference. According to The Family and Children’s Center,
- Family meals are more nutritious. A Harvard study found that families who eat together are twice as likely to eat their five servings of fruits and vegetables as families who don’t eat together.
- Kids who eat family meals tend to eat a wider variety of foods and become less picky eaters.
- Family meals provide an opportunity for family members to come together, strengthen ties and build better relationships. They build a sense of belonging which leads to better self-esteem.
- Family meals offer parents a chance to be role models. They can set an example of healthy eating and polite table manners.
- Family meals help prevent obesity. Research shows that people tend to eat less during family meals because they eat more slowly and talk more.
- Research shows that kids who eat family meals have a lower chance of engaging in high risk behaviors such as substance use and violence, and fewer psychological problems.
After-dinner clean up and prep
After dinner, everyone can pitch in to clearing the table, doing the dishes, sweeping the floor. If you pack the kids’ cold lunches, packing as much as you can the night before really helps. Since you’re in the kitchen anyway, pack each lunch, at least as much as possible. After the meal is also a good time to have the kids finish up any leftover homework, think about what they want to wear for school the next day, and pack up their backpacks so they are ready to go.
Schedules Keep the Family On-Task
Whether you put a chalkboard on the dining room wall, use a calendar, or write it on a white board on the fridge, creating a schedule each week can help keep the whole family on task. Be sure to include the lessons, sports practices, and after-school activities each child has going on, any meetings or work-related appointments that will happen, and any special events slated for the week. Along with a calendar, a rotating chore chart can be used to help keep even the youngest children responsible and taking care of meeting some of their own organizational and prepping needs. Younger children will respond well to a picture chart while older children may prefer a checklist.
Creating strong routines, schedules, and responsibility lists that take into account the reality of your time and the needs of the family can transform hectic school evenings into peaceful moments of relaxation.
What could a new routine do for your family?