Have you ever sat and planned your daily routines?

I have worked with a lot of moms over the last 10+ years and one thing that constantly pops up is the lack of planning.

I get it, this parenting lark, we are just figuring it out, one day at a time. The trouble with that philosophy is that we can’t improve the situation if we don’t take stock of what is going on!

As the holidays are drawing to an end, it is the perfect time to actually take a moment and think about how your day is unfolding and make a few tweaks so that it works better for you and the kids (and cut down on the nagging, screaming and general grumpiness that comes with the stress of getting the kids ready for school). It’s not going to be easy but the result will be stress-free school days

After the holiday break, it can be hard to get the kids excited about school again as most dread having to go back. 

This is a natural reaction for many children. In fact, studies have shown that adults feel this way too when getting back into any routine after being on vacation or out of work. Let your child know that his nervous feelings are normal and just remind them they’re not alone!

Grumpy child don't want to go to school

Tips to make the transitions easier and your school days less painful…

The first step to creating a great morning and evening routine is determining how much time you have. 

It’s not possible to squeeze 3 hours of activities into the one hour between when you wake up and take your kids to school. So don’t try it! Consider what time you need to leave the house in the mornings for work/school and any other commitments that are taking place during different parts of the day – this will give an indication as to what timespan might be available at night. 

Then determine which part (morning/evening) best suits your needs, making lunches in the evening instead of the morning for example

Create a list of the things that need to be done. how long it takes to do them then create a schedule that reflects this.

An organized morning routine can help your family be more successful and have more stress-free school days. When the kids know what to expect from both themselves and you, they will feel better about their day ahead of them. 

Kids who are not constantly being nagged by parents have less tension in the house because it is easier for everyone when we all follow a schedule! 

With an evening routine as well, having a schedule and routine makes life easier. Things are less likely to get forgotten which means fewer meltdowns and drama.

Leaving the house on time

As the school year begins, a lot of families struggle with getting their kids out the door on time. To help your child be successful this term and beyond, I recommend starting off by having an open conversation about what their morning routine will look like during these hectic mornings. 

Clear expectations are invaluable to our little ones under all that pressure in trying to get ready for school!

As a parent, it can be difficult to stay on top of your child’s schedule. Having an easy-to-reference guide that they themselves are able to look at. Reference is one way you can take some pressure off yourself as the primary scheduler in their life. By giving them more input into what needs to be done next for school or playtime with friends. For emergent readers consider adding pictures!

Planning for stress-free school days

Managing Stress-free school days

Need motivation?

Get strict and add a rule that there are no games, toys, devices, or TV until everything on the list is completed. 

A client of mine, Rachael, was really struggling to get the kids out of the door on time. One of the small changes she made which had a HUGE impact, was having a no TV in the morning policy. Her husband was against this as he liked to watch the news as he got ready but he also had an hour train commute to work. She talked him into using that time to catch up on the news and keeping the TV off.

The result was that the kids were not as distracted, her husband was actually more helpful in getting the kids ready and there was less shouting and nagging in the mornings.

After School

After a summer break of sleeping in, playing all day long, and generally having fun with friends the transition back to school can be tough. 

One rough area is homework completion which may seem daunting for some students after time away from their studies. 

If you want your child to stay focused on their work, it’s important they have structure at home too. Therefore, provide them with a schedule that helps them succeed.

Sometimes kids need a bit of downtime when they get home from school – especially the introverts, they need to recharge, so a short break with maybe a snack first before diving into the homework.

Kids (like adults) will take the time they have and drag a task out. Homework shouldn’t take more than about 30 minutes. So assign 30 minutes for them to get it done. What are the consequences if they don’t finish on time? Or don’t hand it in fully completed?

Talk to your child’s teacher. Find out how long the work should take, and plan accordingly. Sometimes, your child might be struggling with something specific and that is OK, you can address that when it happens. 

Helping your child set a time for their work is also helping them to learn time management skills. Something that many kids don’t learn because their lives tend to be micromanaged.

I also recommend teaching them the Worst First Method which I talk about in this post, to get things moving along quickly.

A child is focusing on work and having a stress free school day

Checklists

Another way to have stress-free school days is to create a checklist. It will prevent you from forgetting important things. Together with each child create a checklist for what they need to take to school with them each day. Depending on the situation, they might need the same thing every day or some days they might need different things. At elementary school, my son had to carry so much to school on a Monday, gym kit, lunch outfit (yes, they wore a lunch apron, mask, and hat), indoor shoes, various books, and equipment. And it all had to go on Monday even if they weren’t using the items that day.

Having a checklist makes it easy to check that everything needed has been packed. Packing the bag the night before makes the mornings run smoother.

And for parents, it is a good idea to have somewhere to keep all the school papers, if they are a nightmare for you, there are tips here to make that aspect easier…

Bedtime

Just as you need a routine for your mornings, it’s important to have one in place before bed. Bedtime is supposed to be the time when we do our mental wind down so that we can charge up for tomorrow with all of the energy needed. 

Children often go to bed much later during the holidays but then having school start back up and they need “to go to sleep” much earlier but struggle to do so. 

This can make kids feel really exhausted because they are not sleeping straight away and also having to get up earlier and have full-on school days! Their sleep cycles are off-kilter and nothing feels quite right – just like when you have jetlag. It takes a while for the body to adjust.

This with the knock-on of everything school-related and often after-school class too, can really take its toll. Kids feel tired, grumpy and are more prone to getting sick because they haven’t had enough sleep.

Not to mention, how that plays out with the rest of the family, making the start of the new term hard work for everyone.

How to mange stress-free schoold days then? I highly recommend starting the school schedule a week or more before school starts so that the kids are eased back into the routine rather than thrown in headfirst.

A child is sleeping on a managed and plan school day

Three Cheeky Tips to manage stress-free school days like a pro!

Clocks! 

For your child to understand the concept of time, they need to be able to read a clock. For this, there need to be clocks around the house where they can check themselves as they work through the routine. 

Another cheat would be to set up Google Home/Nest/Alexa or some other smart device to remind your kids at certain times to do what they need to do (cuts down on you having to nag too)

Create a playlist

Music can be a great motivator and a good reminder to do certain things. When a certain song comes on, it is time to brush their teeth, a different track for leaving the house. One of the Wonder Mom guest experts, Rachel Davis from LaLa Tigers has some great tracks recorded specifically for this, you can get them on Spotify here.

Reduce Choices

If kids have too much choice it is hard for them to make a decision so wherever possible, reduce the number of choices. This will reduce the overwhelm, and overwhelm leads to tantrums and meltdowns.

  • Do they want to wear the pink t-shirt or the green one? 
  • Do they want cornflakes or toast? 
  • Strawberry yoghurt or blueberry?

What are your morning and evening routines like? 

Join the Wonder Mom Success Club to learn how we’ve created a morning routine that helps our kids get ready for school. An evening routine that ensures homework is done early enough so there’s time for family fun before bedtime. Also, more strategies for making mornings and evenings easier on moms. Find out how you can make these changes today!

WIN BACK AN HOUR OF YOUR DAY

AND BECOME A TIME BENDING NINJA

(WITHOUT GIVING UP SLEEP OR INSTALLING ANOTHER USELESS TIME-SAVING APP)