School transitions: We don’t want summertime to end …. and at the same time, back to school season means an easier, more predictable schedule. Even if we are not a parent; we work with parents, we babysit grandchildren for their parents, and we hire parents. 4 tips follow for thinking ahead – just a bit – to Fall and how to organize ourselves and minimize the chaos and stress.
Imagine the First Week Back to School
Create some quiet time and visualize what life will be like the first few days of school – not just day one. There’s usually a little bit chaos as everyone gets used to a new schedule and new bed times. Lunches need to be made and after school pickups need coordination. What could you do now, early, so that the transition brings less chaos?
One answer is to talk with the family and imagine together how those first few days will flow. Literally, describe them in detail so you’re living through the early days in your minds. Figure out together what the schedule changes will be. You and your spouse might need to swap some responsibilities you’ve had over the summertime. There will be more to do and less flexible schedule. Who and how will get it all done?
If you don’t know where to start, check some of the resources listed below. Find your starting point and then share it with everyone. The more you share what’s to be done, the more you can enlist others, and not take it all on yourself.
Use Calendars and Schedules the First Few Days …. and Longer
Even if you are not a schedule/calendar fan, use something to keep yourself on track that first week into the Fall schedule. Why? Things change a LOT with our schedules, including some new habits and routines to organize your days and everyone else’s. Give yourself a safety net. Use the calendar’s reminders or visual impact of a paper bullet journal to remind you it’s time to pick up kids or to start dinner or whatever is new and different from your summer schedule.
A big shift will be to plan your work around kids’ schedules again. At least in the Fall, the schedules are more regular than in summertime. To make it easier on your work, plan a little bit more than usual. Before you begin the day or a project, list the small steps on paper – to keep it in view all the time. And with the smaller steps, it’s easier to take a work break, get the kids, and return to work later on, knowing where you left off and how to quickly get started again. I call this bookmarking your place in work. You might also consider working fewer hours that first week, so you’re not torn between school and work too much as you all adjust to the school transition.
Empty Home Office- How Does it Affect Your Motivation?
If you work from home and have had one or more children around, but this year they leave for school, imagine what it’ll be like for you, without the energy of people around you as you work. If it feels like it might drain your productivity, check into shared office space, working at your library or at a coffeehouse a couple of days a week. Use more meetings with people at work to replace some of that helpful energy. If on the other hand, you enjoy your quiet, plan your work breaks. Avoid burning out because you will have worked so intensely all day. We all need to refresh.
Household Systems – What Needs to Change?
School transitions mean schedules are more packed yet more predictable than summer schedules. Look at your household systems to figure out what needs to change, or be made simpler. Common changes are: more planning for what to cook for dinner; different meal times; laundry-needs to be more timely during the school year; and even bill paying. Look at who does it, how often, and whether it is a skill you need to start teaching your children. Talk together as a family so everyone’s on the same page, and can chip in. By talking about it before the schedules change, the shift goes more smoothly. If you wait until you’re into school season to figure out this stuff, you’ll have chaos, stress and cranky attitudes and you’ll end up doing most of the work yourself.
Bonus — Bring Summertime Pace into Year Round Life
How could you bring a little bit of summertime relaxation and happy attitudes into your days as school begins? Some ideas: schedule your weekends a little less tightly; build in “do nothing together” time together, choose a regular “no technology” time during the week for everyone or on the weekend; continue reading or some downtime hobby you always do during the summer; start your day with a walk outside [even 10 minutes in nature helps us relax plus you’ll be starting the day for you.]
To smooth transitions ~
More on school transitions – just for the kids:
From ParentingNH, PBS and Psychology Today :
If your child has ADHD, read my tips here, quoted in Parenting NH magazine. Click here. [Mary Ellen Hettinger, author].
For specific suggestions on getting organized for the school year, this Parenting NH article gets right to the point. [Wendy Thomas, author].