“Good morning! Forgot your homework? That permission slip was due yesterday? Where’s your backpack? Hurry up, catch that bus! Never mind, I’ll drive. Where are my keys?”…Does this sound like your home? I bet you probably started off with great plans to stay on top of the paperwork, assignments, and get everybody off to school on time. How are you doing so far? Do you find yourself fishing out leftover lunches and forgotten school papers, or racing over to school to drop off forgotten reports and lunches? There is a simpler way.
Kids love to help, and they are very capable when they are positively motivated. Before you lose your patience, or their papers, try a few of these tips to streamline your daily process.
Resist the urge to do it yourself. While that’s quicker, it won’t teach them independence. If your kids are old enough for school, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard them say “I can do it myself!” These few basics are opportunities to help them to become self-reliant.
- Dedicate a spot for backpacks and jackets to hang together, in a place that children can easily reach. Keeping these things together is a visual reminder for them.
- Assign a fixed spot for each child’s paperwork and folders (basket, color coded folders, dedicated space on your desk, etc.). Papers stay there for your review, and then get packed into backpacks, filed, or tossed.
- Spend a few moments together reviewing work, assignments, and anything else that you want to follow-up on.
- Use a big calendar (dry erase boards work well) with color coded markers or photos for each child. Together, mark the important events (tests, music lessons, activities) so that everyone can see what’s going on. For younger children, doing it together gives them helpful calendar practice.
- Put doctor appointments, birthday parties, family events on the calendar too. No more appointment cards tucked into a wallet and forgotten. Using one central calendar eliminates the shock of discovering that your major presentation at work conflicts with parent teacher conferences.
- Children can select their outfits (one or two) the night before. It’s much easier to lay everything out (socks, undergarments, and sneakers too) before bed to avoid last-minute calamities. Thinking through their outfits develops their planning skills. Rigidity is not the point here. It’s about allowing them freedom of choice, within reason, and planning without the time pressures of the morning rush.
- Put instruments, sports gear, and big items on the floor near backpacks where they are hard to miss in the morning. Although, I have wondered how the saxophone was marched over and left behind!
- When children pack up homework, signed papers and library books before bed, there’s no last-minute scrambling.
Imagine how proud your children will feel about themselves as they learn how to organize and take care of their own school responsibilities. Beginning the day with a sense of serenity will set the tone for a great day for everyone. Enjoy the peace you have created!
Denise Fountain is a Certified Professional Coach, working primarily with moms through the challenges and transitions of parenthood. She also taught preschool for many years, and is passionate about helping parents and their children to live their best lives. Sign up for updates while you’re on this site! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how Denise can partner with you to create the life you dream of.