I’ve been seeing the commercials for quite some time, but it’s still hard to believe the kids will be heading back to school in just a few short weeks. Although I don’t have school-age children of my own any more, many of my clients do and they struggle with resetting from free-and-easy summer schedules to hectic back-to-school schedules. In no time at all, kids will be running here and there between school, sports, band practice, etc. “How do we manage it all?” is a frequent question I get from my clients.
Getting ready for the first day of school takes a ton of planning.
- Did classes get registered for properly and does each child know where they are supposed to be for each period of the day?
- Did appropriate clothes and supplies get purchased? (Most schools have a list of required supplies that I would suggest you use. Be sure to “shop at home” first, chances are you probably already own most of the supplies your kids will need.)
- Have all necessary health requirements (physicals, vaccinations, etc.) been completed?
- Has daily transportation been figured out?
- What about after-school activities? Have sign-ups been completed and has the appropriate equipment been arranged for?
Once school starts, the logistics become really important. What child is going where when? Are there overlapping activities that require special transportation needs (carpool anyone?)? What nights will the family be together for dinner? What nights will eating on-the-run be necessary? Are there days when you will need to pack extra snacks for the time between school and evening activities?
It’s very important that our kids have the opportunity to engage in experience-expanding activities, but managing multiple kids and activities can be overwhelming! For that reason, time management frequently comes up as an issue for my clients and their children.
1. Sleep: How much sleep a child (or adult) needs is certainly personal, however there are some great guidelines by age. Lack of sleep significantly affects our cognitive processes and and cause many other health issues.
2. Breakfast/Getting Ready for School: When I’m working time management tasks with my clients, I always ask how long they think it takes them to get from out-of-bed to out-the-door. Most say “a half hour or so,” but when I ask them to track it on a daily basis for week or two, they find it’s more like 45 minutes to an hour. Starting the day 15 – 30 minutes behind schedule is incredibly stressful, so be sure you and your children plan enough time to get the day started off right. And be sure to build in time for a healthy breakfast. According to Healthy Eating “Students who eat breakfast have higher test scores than students who skip the morning meal.”
3. Non-negotiable family activities: Even during the busy school year, most of my clients require a family meal at least one mid-week and one weekend evening. This is a great time to reconnect and review schedules for the upcoming week.
4. Study time: Although it varies by child, there always seems to be a big chunk of study time that has to be figured into schedules. As assignments come up, the appropriate time needs to be allocated into a calendar (yes, I suggest that children who are old enough for after-school activities are old enough to utilize a calendar). Sometimes a great deal of the homework can be done over the weekends, but in my experience, some time every day needs to be dedicated to school tasks.
5. Free time: Yes, it may sound funny, but “schedule” free time. It’s critical to relax the brain and just have fun! Make sure there is time every week for doing nothing.
There are so many things to think about when we are launching our kids into the next school year. A few minutes of careful planning can save a lot of stress and headaches for a busy, on-the-go family!