We don’t have long to go now! Are you already washed, labelled and organised, counting down the minutes until those little whirlwinds go back to school. Or maybe you are always a deadline dancer and still have uniform to buy and homework projects to start and honestly, you could do with another week (although let’s be really honest now, you wouldn’t then be any more organised, it just means you would leave it another week).
No matter which one you are, those school routines can be tough to get back into the swing of. Chaotic, messy and all of a sudden much shorter on time. Even tough most of us are looking forward to a bit of routine back in our life (it is a safe place to admit it here) it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come easy.
As a mum to two myself and my youngest about to start school, I come from a place knowing exactly what it is like. I do have the benefit of being an organiser on my side to help me along the way but don’t think it is all smooth sailing. Far from it.
However, I recognise, I am at an advantage to be able to reduce the stress and chaos of those school routines. I will highlight the word REDUCE though. All it means is that having to ask the kids to put their shoes on for the 10th time or the tantrum over not having the right cereal for breakfast or the emergency change of clothes after spilling who knows what down the first effort doesn’t completely tip you over the edge and instead allow the space to deal with the surprise additions to your morning.
So here are my top tips – 6 ways to make the school year a little less chaotic.
Sure the uniform. I mean, it is a necessity at the speed kids lose their school jumpers, shoes and pretty much anything else they walk in through those school gates with but don’t forget the lunch boxes, drink bottles, shoes (trust me on that one!) and sports gear (shin pads, rackets, balls, seriously the lot). Unless you like buying the same things over and over again of course.
This may seem like an obvious one though and one you know is a necessity rather than a tip but I wanted to share what I use as they were a game changer. Rather than spending hours ironing or sewing on labels or having to repeat the whole process when your so called permanent marker wore off, I found these stickers. If you already use them, you will know that they are the quickest and most effective way at getting the job done and you won’t got back.
There are lots of options out there but I have given you a link to the ones I use It is an affiliate link through amazon it is genuinely the exact product I have used time and time again. I have used one name sticker on my sons drinks bottle all year (I know it is a miracle I kept a drinks bottle all year in itself) and the sticker hasn’t rubbed off or faded. Not many labels can say that. So here is that link here.
Have a homework station
It doesn’t matter how old your child is, these can be so useful.
Whether it is in their room, or in a living or dining space, having a dedicated space to store some things for them means they have one less excuse to not do it (or whine about it) and you can hopefully leave them to it a little more.
In our home, it is a box. My children are only small and in the early years of primary school so homework in their room is a little way off and we don’t have a dedicated desk or office space so instead they do it on the dining room table.
We have a pencil case, some colouring pens, paper, reading book and that is about it for now but as things become more complicated for them, I will add what they need.
It means that they don’t get distracted, they know where everything is and they can also help tidy it all back up again. It also means my dining table doesn’t permanently look like a desk and I can easily convert it ready for dinner without it being yet another thing to add to my to do list.
Make sure your kitchen flows well
This may feel a little left wing here, we are talking about making school routines easier but I promise you this will make a huge difference! More than you think.
The morning routine rush, the quick dinners between after school clubs and frankly the last thing we want to be doing after a long week. Add to that not being able to find what you need, not knowing what food you have to make a meal or the frustration of everything falling out of the cupboards when you do try to get something, it just adds another level of chaos to your busy week.
When thinking about the flow of your kitchen try thinking about:
- What items need to be accessible (e.g. snacks for the kids – are they in or out of reach)
- What items do you use most frequently? (would having the spices to the right of your hob make things a little quicker when cooking)
- Are your Tupperware decluttered and organised saving time looking for matching lids?
- Do you need to think about breakfast stations being created so your children can make their own breakfast with ease to help save you time in the morning?
Many of us just keep things in certain cupboards because that is the way it always has been but think about the zones that would make sense for your family and see if you can switch it up so all those zones flow better in your kitchen.
Have a dump and run system
Stop making it difficult for yourself. We are all in a rush and no one more so than children who want to relax after being at school all day. Rather than fighting a losing battle asking them to put their shoes, coats and bags away properly, why not make it easy for them instead, a system that lets them win but you can tolerate too?
It isn’t my ideal scenario but we have a dump and run basket near the front door. Whilst there is a proper shoe rack and hooks for coats, the kids know they can dump their school shoes, bags, hats etc in the basket and they won’t get moaned at by me. It means in the morning they know exactly where to find everything too.
Sure, I would love a completely clear hallway and things a little more organised than that but I know where everything is, the mess is contained and it is one less battle I had to fight today.
So rather than being clever, why not thing of the simple idea instead.
Family planners are key
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy but keeping something like this up to date will make you feel so much more in control than winging it every day.
Something you can see at a glance is ideal. I know we are tempted to digitise everything these days but the problem with that is we can forget to check it in advance or forget to set a reminder, leaving us always reacting instead of planning ahead.
Putting up a simple planner somewhere prominent, perhaps the fridge with the days of the week, a column for each family member and what they have going on that week can make all the difference to how in control you are. Add things coming up, things to remember and things to do to this and it turns into your families hub.
Sure it takes some commitment to start with to remember to update it, remind everyone in the family to add to it and pop things onto the to do list but once everyone is on board it can make your life infinitely easier.
You don’t even have to be that creative. You can start off with something really simple like this (aff link) and work your way up from here. I love this planner from Etsy but the possibilities are endless.
You never know, you could even work your way up to creating something as impressive as this. If this is right up your street, you can find a blog on how to create it here.
Timeblock the night before
Last but by no means least is this bad boy. Time blocking. In short, all you do is write down on any piece of paper what you are going to do at what time. Start with writing down the top 3 things you need to get done the next day, then write down all the hours in the day going down the page and then fill in what time you will do those top 3 things. Then fill in your non-negotiable commitments eg work, the school run, after school clubs and then you will see what free time you have left in between (I know it won’t be much) to then do the other things on your to do list. You can then pop in something that you know you will have time for rather than overstretching yourself and making you unnecessarily stressed.
Don’t forget to add in some buffer time for things to go wrong. I always allow an extra half an hour either side of the bedtime routine. That way, if by some miracle it goes smoothly. I have a little window to either sit down or squeeze in something else from my to do list. Who am I kidding, I always use it as guilt free sit down time, before my next time blocked window comes up.
It may seem regimented and inflexible to have your day mapped out like that but honestly it gives you so much freedom from everything else going on your to do list. All you have to focus on is the task at hand because you know that you have already mapped out what time you have to do it and what happens next. You know your top 3 priorities will be achieved as you added them first and anything else is then a bonus.
If you don’t already do them. Give it a go, I promise, they are insanely helpful.
So there we have it. 6 ways to make this school year a little less chaotic.
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