Back to School Routines that Serve the Whole Family

By Stephanie Thomas

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Confession: I’ve got the back-to-school blues. 

With the big day looming in the not-so-distant future, all I can think is: 

“Summer’s over already?” 

And yeah, I’m feeling all the feels with my little one starting kindergarten. I’ll miss heading out on adventures with him and his older brother. But also? I’m dreading the alarm clock. 

We’re a sleep-in crew. We roll into our destination riiiight on time. And we’ll hang as long as the pool’s still open and the sun’s still shining. Who needs routines anyway? 

Well . . . we do. ‘Cause school’s starting back. Did I mention that? 

This year, I’m hoping to establish a few key routines to serve our whole family as school gets back into full swing. Want to join me? Here’s what I plan to do: 

Back to School Routines that Serve the Whole Family

Keep Things Simple

There’s no way we’re going from zero to sixty in our organization skills so I won’t be setting our family up for failure. Instead, we’ll focus on a few key changes that we can easily and effectively incorporate into our home. 

For us, that means finding ways to move things along a bit more quickly in the morning and looking for opportunities to enter our afternoons in a state of joy instead of with exhaustion and crankiness. 

The takeaway for your family: Consider your own school-day routines and identify just two or three areas that could benefit from a little more intention.

Serve the Same Breakfast Every Day For a Week

I won’t win any Pinterest Parent of the Year Awards for this one, but we might just get out the door on time, so . . . worth it, right? My boys love cereal. I prefer for them to eat something with a bit more get-up-and-go. We’ll compromise by having a weekly breakfast plan—no daily negotiations needed. 

Some weeks, I’ll prep breakfast burritos or zucchini chocolate-chip muffins for quick morning heat-ups. And other weeks, I’ll set out a box of cereal on the table and let them have at it. 

The takeaway for your family: Think about how you can remove one stressor from your morning. Maybe you’ll have your kids choose the next day’s outfit each night before bed or set an alarm that alerts the family when you have ten minutes before time to leave. 

Follow a Few 10-Second Moves After School

Afternoons can be a bit touch and go—sometimes we’re tired, sometimes we’re cranky, sometimes we’re fired up from all the fun we just had that we want to have even more! None of these scenarios lead to great follow-through on afternoon routines, so I need to encourage actions that are quick and can easily develop into a daily habit. 

Here are the 10-second moves we’ll try: 

  • Right along with my afternoon greeting, I’ll hand the boys a snack that packs a punch—a granola bar, string cheese, or a handful of nuts–and a bottle of water. 
  • Backpacks have a home in our front closet, but they never seem to make it there. Every day, I’ll say, ad nauseam “Please put your backpacks on their hooks” and wait until they actually do it. 
  • Followed quickly by, “Please place your lunch boxes in the sink.” I’m embarrassed to admit how much this small change will change my life. But it will. 

The takeaway for your family: What 10-second moves can you add to your routine? Maybe you’re way more on your game than me—your kids already put everything away. That’s great! Perhaps now you can have them set any papers that need signing on the table when they get home or encourage your kids to plug in any devices that need charging. 

Create An Atmosphere of Rest in Your Home

From the vantage point of a parent, school is small potatoes. But we all know that isn’t true for kids—it certainly wasn’t true for me. This year, I’d like to build a little feel-good into our back-to-school routine by considering what would most replenish each of my boys at the end of a long day.

I’ll consider their personalities and also check in with them on a regular basis to ask: Would you like to play a game with me? Or would you prefer some alone time? Maybe you’d like to run around in the backyard or take a nice, long bath? On an ideal day, I’d love for each of my boys to have an hour or two to do what feels edifying for them—and I’ll do the same. 

My hope, of course, is that they’ll be ready and willing to take on the next day of school—and all that comes with it. 

The takeaway for your family: How might you create a feeling of rest and relaxation in your home? Perhaps you’ll have music playing in the background, maybe you’re the mom or dad who dances in the kitchen? Or maybe you simply check in each night at dinner to better know and understand your little ones. 

What will you do to make this back-to-school season a smoother one? I’d love to steal your ideas. 😉 Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or Instagram account.