Happy back to school, everyone! I hope you enjoyed your summer. We had great weather and I made an effort to “walk the talk” and took some serious time off to relax. I got in some great family time with my girls, and spent time up at the cottage. I travelled to Halifax, Lunenburg, New Hampshire and Vermont to visit with my extended family too. Next stop is Bulgaria in September. I’m feeling fresh and revived; hopefully you are too!
Now to switch gears and get ready for new school routines, extra-curricular activities and all that paperwork that comes home in the first few weeks. September can often feel hectic. With a little planning, input from your family and a plan of action, things can run quite smoothly. I suggest you start off with a family meeting. If you have not ever had a family meeting before, this is a perfect reason to start! Even if you only have one, it’s well worth your time. Of course I recommend you have them weekly to really get the value. For basics on holding a family meeting, you can check out the last chapter of my book Honey, I Wrecked The Kids, or check online for information and find a method that suites your family. Don’t get too fussed with the details. Just keep the principal of working together as a team to help the family work co-operatively by having all stakeholders contribute ideas and solutions for living together.
Back-To-School family meetings should cover off these important tasks:
Wake-up time: Who’s getting up when, who is responsible for the wake-up (Mom/Dad/Alarm Clock) and who gets the bathroom first. Try to account for roadblocks that might put your schedule at risk.
Breakfast: Is this going to be a sit-down together event or serve yourself affair? Is the kitchen only “open” for a certain window of time? Are there limited options on school days? You don’t want to be sitting in the car frantically honking the horn while one kid is still inside waiting for the toaster to pop.
Getting ready for school: Is there a list of morning jobs that need to be completed? Are your kids okay to manage this on their own or would they benefit from a list of morning jobs that they can follow? If so – get them to create it. Discuss tasks such as:
- Are clothes being laid out the night before or is everyone able to make a quick decision in the morning?
- Who packs the lunches and when? This can feel like a daunting task, consider taking turns for who’s on lunch duty and if your kids are old enough, be sure to include them in the rotation. Agree ahead of time if lunches are packed the night before or in the morning.
*Tip – I suggest making a list of possible lunch items and snacks that everyone agrees to and posting it on the fridge, this way you aren’t stuck trying to figure out who likes what and end up with wasted food coming home at the end of the day.
Homework: It’s inevitable for most kids. Agree ahead of time what the plan is for getting homework done (before or after dinner or lessons?). Decide on a place where school correspondence will be kept so you aren’t scrambling to locate permission forms on your way out the door in the morning.
School Night Bedtimes: Are your kids asking for a later bedtime this school year? Are you willing to let them try it, providing the morning routine runs smoothly and they aren’t napping on the couch before dinner? Agree on this ahead of time and it may save many evening battles. It may be more fun to add a half hour family board game to the evening routine than wasting that half hour battling to get your kids tucked in.
Remember that your children can often present viable solutions that you may not have thought of. Ask for their input and get their consent when you are making up your new schedule. Kids are much more likely to follow the rules when they were part of the establishment process! Don’t forget to outline and document agreed upon consequences/adjustments when things don’t go as expected. “What should happen if it’s time to leave for school and people haven’t eaten breakfast yet?”
If there is anything I can do to help you with your back to school family meeting, or if you suggestions for fellow readers, please comment below.