Do you have a child starting school next year and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of the early mornings, new routines and changes that will be happening within your family?
Mum-of-three Katrina Springer, also known as The Organised Housewife, has been packing lunches, washing uniforms and juggling after-school activities for 10 years. For her own sanity, she created routines and organised nooks in her home to create calm during those busy school days. Here are some of her top life hacks that you can implement now to be ready in time for the 2018 school year.
1. Establish a bedtime.
It’s important to establish new sleep times for your child as they need a good night’s sleep for a full school day. Start to implement these routines now by getting your child in bed by the set bedtime and waking up with an alarm clock.
To determine a good time to wake each morning work backwards from the time you will need to be out the door and how long it takes them to get ready, always allow an extra 20 to 30 minutes as they can get distracted!
2. Screen time rules.
Start to set boundaries and rules on screen time (TV and/or devices) as they can easily distract kids from getting ready in the morning or not doing their homework. Some options:
- No screens before school.
- Screens only after homework has been finished in the afternoons.
- Screens only after kids are dressed and ready for school.
- Strictly no screens on school days.
- Educational apps only during the week.
- One hour of screens each day.
3. Homework station.
Creating a homework station will help keep clutter tidily away when not in use. If you’re lucky enough to have some spare space in your home make an area to store all the kids homework supplies, books and bag. Or create a little caddy that can easily be moved from a drawer to the dining table. Make it an easy to reach place for the kids, so they have all their stationary needs to complete their homework.
4. Meal plan.
Meal planning is a huge time saver. You don’t want to waste your precious time during the week running back and forth to the grocery store with tired kids after a long day at school. I can’t exaggerate enough how meal planning helps my sanity. To have all our dinner and lunchbox essentials in the fridge for the beginning of the week makes those busy afternoons easier. Consider your after-school commitments to what you would then plan for dinner – you don’t want to have a meal that’s going to take an hour or two when you get home late from soccer training.
5. Help reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Anxious feelings in children are normal and expected when they first start school as there are so many changes disrupting them. Here are some strategies I’ve tried to overcome these feelings:
- Talk to them about how they feel.
- Role play, get them to dress up in their uniform and play with their school bag.
- Visit the school, walking, riding bikes, driving, walk in if the school allows.
- Start them on their school routine before school starts.
- Diffuse lavender essential oil to help reduce the anxious feelings and help them sleep.
6. Keep sporting gear bags packed.
Much like the nappy bag days, when I came home from a day out I restocked it with new nappies, bibs, clothes and more. The same goes for the kids' sporting bags - once all clothes are washed, pack all they need back into their bags so they don’t have to search next time.
7. How many school uniforms do you really need?
To have a school uniform for each day of the week would be ideal, but it isn’t budget friendly. Think about your laundry routine and determine if it’s possible to purchase fewer uniforms by doing a wash during the week.
8. Planned lunches.
Preparing and packing school lunches can get monotonous over time, especially when trying to be creative and give them something different each day. As well as a nutritious lunch (sandwich, salad, crackers and the like), kids need a healthy mix of fruit and snacks to keep them fuelled throughout the day. Snacks can be homemade muffins, biscuits, vegetable sticks, cheese cubes or fruit, or for convenience, pre-packaged snacks such as popcorn, dried fruit, biscuits muesli bars and chips.
Place snacks in baskets for easy access in the pantry - this will help you easily see at a glance if you need more supplies at your next grocery shop so the kids aren’t going to starve through the week. Plus, save time creating little snack cups for each day of the week.
9. Fill the freezer.
Take some time in the weeks before school starts to fill your freezer with lunchbox-friendly food so you have food ready for school lunchboxes. I do a mixture of sweet and savoury snacks, that are freezer friendly. I put them into the kids' lunchboxes frozen and by morning tea time they are thawed.
Got your own hack to add to this list? Please, tell us in the comments below, we'd love to hear!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner OfficeMax.
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OfficeMax is here to help you get 2018 back to school sorted, so you can enjoy the holidays without their booklist hanging over your head.