1. Create Excitement Around the New School Year.
I don't know about you, but I always look forward to fresh starts, and a new school year is definitely one of those. By July, we're already talking about the next school year. The boys' get excited and I get excited. We have a tradition of doing "interviews" at the beginning and end of every school year, too. It's something that's fun to look back on and the boys always expect it.
2. Involve Your Kids in the Decision Making Process.
Growing up, I remember my mom would always take me to pick out my school supplies - from my book bag and lunch box to pencils and new clothes. This is something I look forward to doing each summer. Before school was even out in June, one of my boys had already decided what kind of book bag he wanted for this upcoming year. Taking them to Target to pick out their own school supplies really gets them involved and excited.
3. Enforce Bedtime Before the Night Before School
Kevin and I are pretty schedule-oriented and bedtime is no exception. We've found that our children thrive on a schedule, so it's something we are pretty strict about. As the boys have gotten older, we've relaxed some about bedtime during the summer and on Friday and Saturday nights, but we don't let the kids rule the roost when it comes to when they go to bed. Sure, it can be inconvenient at the time, but we've found that we're much better off the next day when our boys go to bed around the same time. During the school year, they're upstairs in their beds by 8:30. They take a little longer to go to sleep, but usually, they're both out no later than 9:15. During the summer and on weekends, we let them stay up a little later - 9 or 9:30 - but not veering too far off this routine helps us ease back into the regular 8:30 bedtime with minimal complaints.
4. Establish a Nighttime Routine.
With two kids with homework and working full-time, we don't have a lot of room for error at night. We want to make the most of our weekday nights and squeeze in a good amount of quality time together. In order to do that, it really helps to have a routine. The boys are used to this and know what to expect when we get home at the end of each day. Of course, in the summer, this is totally different as there is no homework to be done, but this is what works for us during the school year.
- While Kevin and I work on dinner, the boys play. They're usually in the den or playroom right off of the kitchen, so we're able to talk with them about their days.
- We eat dinner as a family. We have our kids take turns setting the table and cleaning it off.
- After dinner, I put up the leftovers and make sandwiches (or whatever the boys are having the next day) for lunchboxes while Kevin is cleaning up the kitchen (yes, I have an awesome husband!).
- We do homework as soon as the kitchen is clean. This takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
- After homework, we have an hour or so to play before bath time.
- At 8, we always have the boys take a bath and get ready for bed. This gives us a few more minutes to play and read while they wind down before taking them upstairs for bed.
5. Establish a Morning Routine
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll just spell it out - we're all about a routine. The morning is no exception. Our alarm goes off around 6:25 and we're up by 6:30. I go straight to the kitchen to pull something together for breakfast (and these days, eat a waffle before I do anything else). A few minutes later, the boys make their way downstairs. Right now, we keep most of their clothes in our room so it's easier to get them out and ironed at night. We always put their clothes out for them and they'll get dressed and play while I finish breakfast. While I'm doing this, Kevin is getting ready for work. By the time the boys are dressed and he's ready, I have breakfast ready and they sit down to eat. I don't usually eat with them in the morning, and instead, take a quick shower while they finish breakfast and Kevin puts the dishes in the dishwasher. The boys then finish getting ready by brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes. I throw their sandwiches, fruit and a cold drink in their lunchboxes and send them off.
For us, it seems that having a routine that works and sticking with it helps us to stay organized and on top of things during the school year. Pumping the kids up about school and their new teachers and classmates is the icing on top. Please share your tips for getting back into the groove of school! I'm sure this time next year, we'll have a whole different routine as we add another baby boy to our family in January!