Back-to-school routine machine

Getting your well-oiled school-routine machine back into working order is not easy. During the summer months, kids get used to waking up later, everybody gets used to more varied schedules (with lots of time for physical activities) and there’s no homework to contend with, freeing you all up to do more things.

Getting your well-oiled school-routine machine back into working order is not easy.

During the summer months, kids get used to waking up later, everybody gets used to more varied schedules (with lots of time for physical activities) and there’s no homework to contend with, freeing you all up to do more things.

But with each passing day, we get a step closer to those militaristic school routines.

Spare yourself and your family the summer-ending shock with these simple ideas that prepare you to go back to school.

Sarah on “Good Calendar Habits”

Set up a family-communication station complete with a “family appointment book.” I suggest a letter-sized planner with plenty of space to write down everything from football games to company meetings and dinner plans. The entire family should know what’s going on at work, at school, after school and socially so no one gets double-booked or overwhelmed. If you use a digital calendar, update it every morning so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

With the various activities your kids will be involved in this fall, the sooner you organize who is picking them up when and where, the better.

As soon as you get the calendars from their school, sit down and put them in your digital calendar.

At the same time that you do that, update your contact lists and address books with their new teachers, coaches and carpool buddies.

That way, you’ll have important information available if you need it in a pinch.

Alicia on “Utilizing Chore Delegation”

You should not be taking care of the home on your own! Organize a chore chart with appropriate chores for each child, depending on age. Ask nicely for help, but set up the expectations and rules before the busy days of school start.

For example, try the two-minute commercial-break chore. Have your kids take out the trash or put the silverware away during the commercial breaks of their favorite after-school TV shows. Most of the chores you give them don’t take more that 10 or 15 minutes anyway, but they won’t feel like they are missing out on anything if they do them during commercials.

Here are a few more ways to stay on track during the new school year:

1. Think long-term — Keep a two-month, laminated calendar in a central place like the kitchen, mudroom or laundry room. Every family member can have his or her own color marker to write in upcoming activities. With that in one place, everyone will know what is coming up.

2. Give your kids the tools to manage their own schedule — Give your children planners of their own along with some incentives for getting into the habit of using them. For example, give them one sticker for each day they write in all of their homework assignments and activities. If they get a full week of stickers, reward them with a special dessert on Friday night (or even with a later bedtime on the weekends).

3. The clutter ate my homework — Get rid of that nasty paper pile on the counter with individual boxes or colour-coded magazine boxes for each child. In each box, have folders for items that need to be read/signed by Mom and Dad, an “In” folder and an “Out” folder.

After you sign the papers and your kids do their homework, it goes into the “Out” folder and then into the backpack. Anything that is included in newsletters, like the school festival or field trips, is immediately written on the large family calendar and in the family-agenda notebook.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com