Settling In After Back to School

In the Pine Belt, many schools have been in session since the latter days of July. Parents of college freshmen have tearfully, and with much trepidation, packed vehicle upon vehicle to reluctantly deliver their kiddos to places far and near.

Hopefully, things are settling into place for the remainder of the household. But there may be a few hiccups along the way. It’s best to go ahead and iron those out before they become problematic.

Is getting the children out of bed, dressed, and fed a nutritious breakfast before hurrying them out the door to the bus still a challenge? Is making sure they have everything they need for the day still an even bigger issue?

In an effort to teach students responsibility, some schools have posted signs on doors saying, “If your child has forgotten something and you are bringing it to them, then kindly turn around and take it right back home.” They are trying to grow your children into self-sustainable young adults.

Homework may already be tiresome; family dinners become more difficult with a variety of early evening practices; weather delays have wreaked havoc with your scheduling. Is everyone hitting his or her stride?

There are tips to follow that might prove mentally profitable for everyone involved. But you’ve got to start small. has these recommendations:

  • Get your kids involved in creating and preparing their daily lunch menus. If your kids take their lunch to school, pack lunch boxes before going to bed. Establish rules for where they should put lunchboxes, etc. when they come home. Buy bulk packaged snacks like bags of grapes that can be easily added to lunches.
  • Go through your kids’ schoolwork once a month to toss the things you don’t want.
  • Create an inbox for kids to leave things that need your attention, like permission slips.
  • Set a time each week to sync up individual calendars with the family calendar.
  • Buy reusable sports bottles to increase their water consumption during the day.
  • Keep a small emergency allowance in your kids’ bags, just in case.
  • Plan supervised study dates when kids work together on projects or homework.
  • Have a backup transportation mode planned in case your kids miss the bus. It will happen.
  • Set your clocks forward 10 minutes. This makes it easier to be on time.
  • Schedule blocks of time to check in with each child to see how things are going.
  • Schedule at least one 30-minute block in your calendar each day for “you time.”
  • Use positive phrasing, such as “You can go outside after your homework is done,” rather than “You’re not going outside until this is finished.”
  • Make sure your kids (and you!) have an effective wake-up alarm that works for them.
  • Set an alarm or notification 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Remove things like mobile devices from kids’ bedrooms to focus them on sleeping.
  • Use night lights, white sound machines and fans for kids who can’t get to sleep.
  • Map out a bathroom schedule to avoid family fights for bathroom time.
  • Keep a running list of supplies, clothing, and food that need to be bought each week.
  • Schedule study blocks on the weekends before big tests, mid-terms and finals.
  • Do something fun to diffuse this stressful time of year for all of you.
  • Establish a set “Family Time,” whether it’s during dinner or before bed.
  • Give kids a specific day to when they can choose all the activities you do together.
  • Determine how long it takes them to do assignments to help with time management.
  • Use an egg timer to get your kids used to focusing for specific periods of time.
  • Teach your kids to prioritize their assignments by making to-do lists with deadlines.
  • Give your kids a short break after each assignment they finish, such as a short walk.
  • Set a regular alarm each day that signals the start of homework time.
  • Take a breath!

With all this preparation, your kids will be in great shape. If you’re relaxed and calm, they’ll head off to school feeling excited and ready to get to work. But whatever you’re undertaking, start small. Get the family into a routine that benefits everyone. Stick to deadlines.

Once the routine gets more developed over time and everyone gets settled in, things should level off. Then you really will able to cheer for the HOME team.