No matter where in Chicago you call home, the first week in January means back to school. Don’t make the mistake of falling into last year’s routine. Add these tips to your daily agenda and get the kids to school quicker, safer, and more efficiently.
1. Spend the week before school doing educational activities to get your kids back into a learning mindset. Visit the Children’s Museum at the Navy Pier, or take a tour of historical monuments around town. Try checking out one of Chicago’s many libraries to help your kids get excited about reading.
2. Set wake-up and bedtimes on weekdays and weekends. Start the new schedule two weeks before school starts so your kids are fully adjusted. Having a set bedtime routine can help with younger kids who struggle to fall asleep. Type and print offReady For School and Ready For Bed checklists. The bedtime checklist can include daily chores, preparing an outfit for tomorrow, setting the breakfast table, packing lunches and gym bags, and making sure mom has seen any important papers for class.
3. Packing lunches can be a battle in itself. Browse the web for some creative new ideas to help speed up the process. Sit down with your kids and the monthly school lunch menu to determine which days you will be packing lunches. Each week you can reference the calendar to make a packed lunch menu. That way you are sure to have all the groceries you need to make a full, nutritious lunch.
4. Having a reliable, safe plan to get your kids to school every day is most important. Bus riders should have a backup ride just in case. But for most, taking the bus isn’t necessarily ideal, especially in the city. Maybe your kids are too young, or maybe the routes just aren’t convenient enough. That leaves you with walking or driving. If your child travels in a booster seat, look into mifold’s portable booster seat. It’s just as a safe as your average booster, but 10 times smaller. The convenience of it for parents when picking up kids from school is a game-changer. Traveling with your booster seat, a nightmare we all know too well, is finally over. Fold it up, throw it in your purse, and use it for taxis, Ubers, or carpooling. It is a must-have for the back to school season and is meant to be an additional option to your regular car booster seat.
5. Create a designated homework area and remove all distractions. Setting a homework alarm for the same time every day can be helpful to establish a daily study session. Timers are also good for keeping kids on task. Whether it’s a homework assignment, cleaning task, or a trip to the park, setting a timer can be useful to kids as they learn time management. While they’re keeping busy, you should be too! Lead by example with work of your own.
- Plan a schedule for after school programs before the hectic school year begins. It’s a lot easier to commit to activities you’ve already made time for. With that said, ask your child's teacher when the best times will be to get involved in the classroom - that way, you can block out your calendar and commit to the school for those days.
7. Make use of other moms. You’re all struggling to complete the same challenge, might as well lean on one another. You’ll be surprised how eager fellow parents are to carpool and take turns supervising playdates. You’ll be even more surprised how much time frees up in your weekly schedule.
8. Arrange a few playdates with classmates to restore old friendships before the chaotic first day begins. If you’re unsure which students are in your child’s class, just ask the teacher for a roster. Kids have anxiety about returning to school, and meeting new friends is a common one. This will break the ice before classes even start.
- Let your kids pick out a planner, or other scheduling tool, and help them map out each week. You can teach time management skills and encourage organization. Show how useful to-do lists can be, as well as the importance of prioritizing assignments. You can also create a bigger calendar that organizes all family commitments.
- Influence your kids to maintain an upbeat and motivated mindset. Phrase things positively. Try saying, “You can take a snack break after you finish that problem,” instead of “You’re not getting your snack until the problem is finished.” Goal setting is another key factor here. You should be setting goals of your own too. Help your kids build goal sheets so they can track their progress on paper.
Simplifying your everyday routine with tricks here and there will not only save time, but energy too. These ten will get you started, and hopefully motivate you to discover dozens more.
Written by Jeremy Alderman