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Coping With Back To School Chaos


For many people, September is the back to school season, although in Japan the school year starts in April, we still get a long (in Japanese standards) break through the summer.

So, by now, you should be settling into a routine, if this is the first year of school or a change from kindy to school the routine might have changed somewhat and it takes a while usually to find the right groove, but you will get there. The first couple of weeks are always tough, depending on where you are, you might have half days to start with or no homework so it really does take a couple of weeks to actually get settled and everyone getting used to the new change of pace.

Here are a few tips to help you get into the groove…


Get everything prepped ASAP

When the kids get home, have a snack or drink if they need one and then get the school stuff dealt with. Yes, they might be tired but leaving it until after dinner they will be doubly tired and doubly whiney. Plus, if they do if staight after school they are still in ‘school mode’ so it is easier for them to actually do it straight away. This includes doing homework if they have any, and preparing their things for the next day.

Help them to do it themselves

If they are big enough to go to school, they are big enough to pack their own bag. Sounds harsh? No, you are actually helping them become more independent and taking responsibilty for themselves. This doesn’t just go for school, kindergarten aged kids can help pack their bags too, but will probably need some supervision.

To help with this, put up a check sheet so that they know what they need to take, I have downloadable a printable sheet for ‘The Things I Need‘  and the other one that is handy, is the ‘Getting out of the door in 1,2,3,4‘ You can always draw little pictures if they are not reading yet.

Yes, it is tough if they forget something and get a scolding at school but at the end of the day that is also a lesson, maybe next time they will be a bit more attentive when packing their bag. Now, I am not saying just chuck them in at the deep end. The first couple of weeks they will, most likely, need some help and gentle reminders but if you keep doing it for them, they will never learn how to do it themselves.

Set Up For Success

Once everything is settles down, you need to establish a routine, this will really help things go smoothly, consistency is the key. Of course everyone’s set up is slightly different so find a routine that will work for your family also set some rules. For us it goes something like this…

  • Ebi-kun gets home anywhere between 3.20pm and 4pm
  • Has a drink
  • Gets everything out of his bag – I wash his cuttlery set, if it is the end of the week his sports kit etc. go in the laundry
  • Gets out and does homework
  • Puts the file with the squillion bits of paper out for daddy to read through
  • Packs bag for the next day

Depending on the homework this all takes 20-30 minutes. When he has finished he can play.

There is no play or no TV until everything is packed. No 10 minutes of TV first or similar, homework & bag first, no excuses. I want this to be a habit that will help my son as he gets older, to deal with what needs to be dealt with first and then relax properly without the thought that you know you still have more work to do.

Mornings are easy because really it is just a matter of getting dressed, having breakfast and brushing teeth, everything else is taken care of. He has school dinners, so no need to pack a lunch but if a packed lunch was needed I would be inclined to prep it the night before, I like my slow, easy-going, stress-free starts to the day.

The final part of this section is to make sure that your home is set up so that it is easy for you kids to put their stuff away and find what they need for the next day. Having specified areas for doing their homework and storing school related items. Make it easy for them to do it and you will save yourself a lot of stress and heartache!

We will be discussing this more in the live call next week in the My Organized Chaos ecourse, if you want to hop on the call you need to be registered for the call before next Tuesday.

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