If you are like me, you’ve already started preparing for back to school with shopping for clothes, shoes, supplies, and other essentials. As parents, there are other important ways we need to prepare for the new year, and that’s by establishing daily structure and routines for ourselves and our kids. Here are my 12 essential habits for successful school days. Use these habits to save time and create stress free weekdays.
12 Essential Habits for Successful School Days
During the summer months, most of us have relaxed schedules and fun days, especially our kids. A new school year means adjusting to earlier mornings, full schedules, homework, and activities once again. It can be exhausting for the entire family. As a parent and former kindergarten teacher, I’m no stranger to the stress of back to school. My experience has taught me a few tricks to making the beginning of the year a little less daunting. Start developing these habits NOW so back to school runs smoothly for you and your family.
Plan and Prep for the Week Ahead
Planning and prepping ahead of time is key to a successful week. This includes meals, clothes, snacks and schedules.
Choose one weekday to write out the menu for the next week, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Based on the menu, write out your grocery list. I like to keep a note on my phone where I add needed items as I plan, in addition to other items we need to purchase. Choose a different day to do your shopping.
Once you have all the needed items, you can begin to prepare for the week ahead. Sundays are a great day to do some prepping. Just a few hours of work will help the weekdays flow smoothly, and you can involve your kids! Here is my plan of action that I’ve found very successful:
- Wednesdays – meal plan and make grocery list
- Thursdays – grocery shop for the following week
- Sundays – prepare clothes, meal prep, create schedule
I love preparing school clothes for the week on Sunday, and I involve my daughter in choosing which outfits she should wear. We check her schedule for the week and decide on appropriate clothing for each day. Because we’ve done this together ahead of time, there is no arguing or last-minute decision-making that can add stress to school mornings. Her clothes are in a designated place in her room, so she can get dressed independently.
Lunch and Snack Prep
Sundays are also great for preparing lunches and snacks for the week. Again, I involve my daughter. I let her choose what snack she would like to have on which day, and we place them in a designated spot in the kitchen/refrigerator where they can be easily accessed each morning. She can be in charge of getting her own snack ready every day.
Lunches can be prepared the same way. We look at the school’s lunch calendar and decide which days she needs to pack her own lunch, and what those meals will be. We prep what we can on Sunday, then prep the rest the night before so it’s ready to go the next morning.
Another part of the 12 essential habits for successful school days is meal planning. You’ve already decided on meals for the week and have your grocery shopping complete, so Sundays can be used for batch cooking. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest for meals that can be prepared ahead of time for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. Many of these meals can be kept in the fridge for 4-5 days, or even frozen to be used when you are short on time. Batch cooking is an awesome time saver during busy weekdays.
Schedule Your Week
Sunday’s are also a great time to take a look at your schedule and adjust your routines accordingly. Are their meetings, doctor appointments, activities to work around? Having a plan of action for the week ahead will keep things rolling smoothly. If there is going to be a change, it is best to discuss this with your children ahead of time so they can be prepared too. I have found that an interrupted schedule goes much smoother when my kids know what to expect.
One of the most important parts of the 12 essential habits for successful school days is establishing a daily routine. Children thrive with structure, so morning, afternoon, and evening routines are super important. When creating a morning routine for your family, ask yourself: What time do we need to wake up each morning so we aren’t rushed? Then plan each morning according to your wake up times. Be sure to allow enough time for everyone to get ready without being rushed, including eating a healthy breakfast. It is so important for their focus! As mentioned above, you can prep easy meals on Sundays that can be frozen and heated up later for a quick and healthy weekday breakfast.
Wake up Early/Have Quiet Time
Wake up before your kids. I always love the early morning peace and quietness that is there before the chaos of the day begins. Waking early can also allow you uninterrupted time to get some chores and tasks out of the way, which can boost your productivity for the day. Have your morning coffee, devotion, or whatever you like to do for some quiet time. I believe having a few moments of peace before the busyness of the day settles in helps ground and center you.
I also believe mornings are the best time for exercise, whether it’s a trip to the gym, your favorite video, or just some simple stretching. Even if you only have 10 extra minutes, I encourage you to use this time to wake your body up properly with your favorite movements.
Once you’ve had your morning coffee, devotions, and exercise, shower and get ready for the day. If all these tasks are completed before your kids get up, you can put your sole focus on helping your kids get ready for school, serving a healthy breakfast, and starting the day with calm instead of chaos.
If the morning routine you’ve planned out isn’t working, see where changes need to be made and adjust accordingly. Through trial and error, find out what works best for you and your kids, be flexible, and offer grace when needed (to your kids and yourself)!
Evening routines are just as important to the 12 essential habits for successful school days as morning routines. To continue your productive day, schedule specific times for homework, physical activity, dinner, family time, baths and bedtime.
Schedule Time for a Snack/Homework
When creating an after-school routine for your family, ask yourself: Do my kids have better focus on their homework immediately after school or do they need to release some energy through play first? I suggest having a healthy snack prepared that will hold them until dinner, and to have them do their homework immediately after their snack to ensure it gets done. If this does not work for your kids, then let them play for a bit and bring them back to get their snack and homework done.
Make Time for Physical Activity
Either before or after homework, they should be given time to just play, preferably outdoors (they need the exercise after sitting at school most of the day). If you are home with your kids, I encourage you to join them in being active. It is good for us mamas too, and a great way to spend intentional time with our kids.
Be Sure to Include Intentional Family Time
Other ways to spend intentional time with our kids include having dinner together every night (when possible), having deliberate conversations about their day, struggles and victories. Encouraging open communication and really listening to what they have to say is the BEST ways to build strong relationships with our kids. You can also play games, read together, or do any of your favorite activities, even if it’s just for a few minutes, for some meaningful quality time every day.
Kids tend to have lots of energy after school, I know mine do! It is great for them to expend that energy through physical activity. However, at some point during the evening they need to wind down and prepare for bed. Establishing a bedtime routine is a great way to calm them and get their bodies ready for quality sleep. Scheduling their baths close to bedtime will help with this. Also find some great bedtime stories at your local library, or choose one of their favorites, that can be read aloud while they’re tucked in their beds. My kids also like my husband and I to sing to them. Establishing calming activities like these will have your kids asleep in no time. And quality sleep is essential to proper growth, focus, and overall health. I love this article by Melinda Wenner Moyer that explains why our kids need early betimes.
Every family is different, so no routine is going to be the same. A family with a stay at home parent may be able to offer more structure than a family with both parents working outside of the home. If you aren’t available after-school, discuss the schedule with your children’s caregiver and have them implement the routines.
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I hope these 12 essential habits for successful school days will help you create daily routines for stress free weekdays, and maximize your time for what matters most: family! Establishing daily routines, planning and prepping ahead, and scheduling your week will make all the difference in the upcoming school year. Even though school days are long and schedules are full, they do not have to be chaotic. Put these tips to good use now, BEFORE school starts and have your best year yet! I hope you will share this post with other parents that may need these tips.
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