Top Tips for Staying Organised This School Year
Here in Geneva our kids have been back at school for a month, but have you found - as we have - that switching from “summer mode” to “school mode” can be tricky ? It takes us by surprise every single year! As busy working parents at the Good People HQ, we have pooled our resources to come up with some helpful ways to take control and feel more organised this school year.
Here are our top tips for getting - and staying - organised.
Have a good morning routine
A good morning routine is a predictable morning routine - when everybody knows what’s going to happen and they are able to play their part in it. Getting ready for school always takes longer than we think it will, but for the sake of everybody’s sanity, it shouldn’t be rushed. Crucially, wake up at least 15 minutes before your children get up. This will give you time to get your thoughts in order, brew your first cup of coffee, and enjoy the quiet in the house before the day begins. Then, wake your kids up (or have them set their alarm) 10 minutes earlier than you think you need to. This will take off a surprising amount of pressure! Of course, a good morning routine starts with a good evening routine - be sure to read our post on this for useful tips on a happy evening routine for the whole family.
Give your children responsibility for their morning tasks
To help avoid power struggles and fraught arguments, try asking your kids how they prefer to order their “getting ready routine” in the mornings. Do they want to get dressed right away, or would they prefer to have breakfast and brush their teeth first? Giving them autonomy over how they wish to tackle the morning will help them take responsibility for all the tasks they have to perform before leaving the house. This will make them more likely to complete their tasks without nagging and constant checking in from parents.
Have a designated “launchpad”
Is there anything worse than rushing around in search of socks or a missing glove before you leave the house? Avoid this by making your home’s entryway a functional space where children can store their backpacks, shoes and socks, gloves, hats and jackets, so it’s all within arm’s reach when it’s time to leave for school. Likewise, they will use it when they get home each day, unpacking their lunch boxes, paperwork, and school books they may need for their homework.
Make sure everybody knows where they’re going, when
It’s a great idea to make a timetable for each child that they can keep taped to their closet door or on the inside of their locker at school, with the following categories:
How am I getting to school today?
What am I doing at lunch today (if they don’t stay at school for lunch)?
How am I getting home from school today?
What activity am I doing after school today?
For older children, it’s enormously comforting to be able to consult the timetable and envision their day ahead (and also means you don’t have to worry if you forget to tell them in the morning what’s happening at pick-up). For younger children, you can draw pictures or use stickers and consult it together in the mornings so that you start building the habit of organising their day in their mind.
Create a “Command Centre”
School often comes with plenty of paperwork. Whether it’s a notice about parent-teach evening or a permission slip that needs reading and signing, there’s a lot to keep track of. Designate a place in your home as the central, visible, accessible space where sense is made of chaos. Here you can keep your calendar, daily schedules, papers and mail, and what ever you need easy and shared access to in order to be able to ensure that everybody is on the same page about the plan for the day, week and month.
Be prepared for extra-curricular activities
How often have you found yourself rushing to your child’s cupboard to grab the clothes and equipment they need for their extracurricular activity before you leave the house? Avoid this panic by having a designated bag for each activity - be it ballet, horse riding, swimming or tennis, and keeping it packed and accessible, ready to go at all times. This means that when you get home in the evening, that particular bag needs to be unpacked and repacked with replacement items for the ones that have been used, and put back in its place.
Have snacks ready to go
Is there anybody less agreeable than a hungry child after school? We don’t always have time to prepare a snack before we head to school pick-up, but a bit of planning ahead will solve the problem. If you’re a Sunday planner, add snacks to your meal prep list, and prepare a series of “grab and go” snack packs for the week. So when you arrive at school to pick your child up for their tennis or music lesson, they have a healthy snack to eat on the way.
Take a moment to appreciate life in all its chaotic glory
While these school days and weeks may feel long, the years are positively flying by. Staying organised means we’re more relaxed parents, which results in happier little ones. But we’re also reminding ourselves and each other to stop every now and then, and enjoy the busy-ness of these precious days with our kiddos. We will miss them all too soon.
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