Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
When back-to-school time rolls around, moms have a lot to do to get their children organized and ready for school. It’s not just school supplies, properly fitted shoes, and homework routines that need to be coordinated. Back-to-school means a shift in energy. The lackadaisical days of summer shift to busy school year schedules that include homework, extracurricular activities, and a lot of carpooling.
When children go back to school, home life undergoes a shift as well. Some of us are more lenient during summer months and don’t require beds to made, bodies to bathed, or the house to be as tidy as normal. However, during the school months - a tidy, well-organized house contributes to children who function better, moms who are more efficient, and days that are more successful.
Chore charts, steady routines, and external motivations have all helped moms create well-managed homes. Here are some additional ideas to create a rhythm that will keep your household running smoothly as the school year kicks off.
Create a space for homework My children used to have desks in their rooms, but – after a while – we learned that wasn’t the right set up for our family. They did not enjoy sitting in their room alone to do homework. They were easily distracted by their toys and would come out of their room frequently for a drink, to ask a question, or simply to wander. It was harder on me as well, bouncing back and forth between four, young children who each needed my help and attention.
We changed our homework area and set up shop on our dining room table. It is large enough that they can all spread out, and I can easily tend to whoever needs me at any given moment. I pull out a serving tray filled with cups of pencils, rulers, and other school supplies they may need while completing their homework. When we are finished with homework time, everything is put away and our dining room is free to be a dining room again.
Is your mud room ready? Some of you are lucky enough to have a mud room, but we all have an entrance that our children come and go through. Picture scattered shoes, jackets tossed on the floor, and backpacks blocking the doorway. Before school starts, anticipate the needs for that space and set up your organizational system. Create the rhythm. For example, we take our shoes off and put them in our bedroom closets because we do not have a large entry area. Books and papers are put on the dining room table until homework is completed. Jackets are hung on hooks right as we walk in (that way, we know where they are in the morning when we are scrambling to get to school).
Household Tasks Children who learn to balance homework, sports activities, and household chores will be better prepared for their future than their counterparts. Assign age-appropriate tasks to each child – even your toddlers can pitch in! Create a method of monitoring their participation that works for you and your family. You can create your own chore chart, use one online, or have mandatory family cleaning on a daily or weekly basis. If you are going to use a chore chart – think it through before you commit. I, for one, do not like to waste paper so I’ve used chore charts that I’ve slid into sheet protectors and have used write on – wipe off pens. I also don’t like to check to see that chores are done every day, so we check on a weekly basis. I also don’t like “paying out” every week. I never seem to have cash in my wallet. Each child has a “checking account”, and we log any earned money into an unused check register. They can also withdraw allowance money for spending, and we subtract it in their register as well.
Creating Peace in Your Home Almost as essential as the external organizational planning is the internal planning. Moms are best prepared to help their children when they are coming from a place of calm. So, set up your routine. Do you meditate? Caffeinate? Exercise? Write? Take a class? What do you do for your Self? Taking care of yourself will mean you are better prepared for those seemingly chaotic and out of control moments. Once you are taking care of yourself, it’s also important to help your children learn how to manage stress and respond to conflict in healthy ways. Model what you want them to learn. There are so many tools and techniques we can begin teaching our children from an early age.
For years, moms have celebrated and mourned the first day of the school year. No matter how you feel about it, it’s important to be ready for it!