By contributing writer, Victoria
Do you hear that? Sadly the sounds of summer are quickly coming to an end. The long, lazy days will soon be replaced with school bells, sports practice and a more structured routine as we start to head into the pre-fall phase of the year.
I like the term pre-fall because while technically it’s still summer, and for most of the country it still feels like summer, fall activities such as back to school, football and other activities begin to fill our schedules. Depending on the part of the country you live in, this season is probably already upon you or will be in a few weeks.
I live in the Midwest where school starts mid-August, but I know many people who don’t go back to school until after Labor Day. Whether you want to admit it or not, the start of a new school year will be here before you know it, and with the start of a new year also means the beginning of a more demanding schedule.
My kids are not of school age yet but my oldest son will be attending preschool two mornings a week and my youngest will be going to a Mother’s Day Out one of those days as well. Which means that come September I will need to have everyone up, dressed, fed with their bags packed and the car loaded by 8:50 two mornings during the week. I’m kind of tired just thinking about it!
While this pre-fall time of year does bring with it a new type of routine and schedule that can be more demanding than the lazy days of summer, there are three ways to get your days back-to-school ready while still enjoying the lazy days while we have them!
Focus on Creating an Evening Routine
I think it’s probably most important to focus on creating an evening routine first because if you want to start getting everyone in the habit of waking up earlier, then they have to start going to bed earlier first!
In our house the evening routine starts with the arrival of Daddy coming home and me making dinner. Since my kids are 3 and almost 2, our evening routine actually won’t change much since it’s a pretty predicable routine of dinner, outdoor playtime with Daddy while I clean the kitchen, bath time and bed time. Although I will say we have let our oldest son get into a habit of staying up a little later than he should to watch baseball with Daddy 🙂 which in turn makes him sleep in a lot later too. So we will be spending the next few weeks working on getting him to bed a little earlier.
If your kids have also gotten into a habit of staying up later during the summer you probably want to ease them into an earlier bedtime gradually instead of all at once. Think about what time they should be in bed and start working backwards to help create a routine that will get them into bed during that ideal time.
To create a successful evening routine, I like to think about what needs to get done before bedtime by both myself and my husband. Eventually my kids will be a little more independent but for now we have to walk them through the bath time and bed time routines.
Some questions to think about as you work towards creating an evening routine:
- What chores or personal tasks need to be done in the evening?
- What are one or two things that will help the morning run smoothly if we get them done at night?
- What time do we want everyone in bed?
- What are some bedtime routines that we have or want to put in place? (For example I read my kids a chapter from their Jesus Storybook Bibles and pray with them every night.)
After you have thought through what your evenings should look like and you and your family have started to make some changes, it’s time to think through a morning routine.
Creating a Workable Morning Routine
I like to break my morning routine up into two categories, before breakfast and after breakfast. Since my kids are so young, I’m usually up and at ‘em before they even get up, meaning that I usually wake up, workout out, take a shower, get dressed and get a little writing in before they usually wake up, which is around 8:00. Yes that is a long list, but I try to wake up at 5:00 every morning.
Just to be clear, I’m a morning person and my best hours of productivity are in the morning until about lunch time, afternoons are when I usually rest and do lighter activities because my brain just doesn’t work as well. Some people are opposite of that and that’s OK. You have to create a morning routine that will work for you!
You know how I am able to wake up early? I go to bed early! To make my mornings work for me, I have to plan how my evenings go which is why I focus on creating an evening routine first. It allows me to get into the habit of going to bed at a certain time so that I can get up early to get things done.
Not everyone is a morning person and functions well in the early hours. I get that but I would also say that while you don’t need to get up super early to get things done, it would probably make your mornings run a tad bit smoother if you got up a little earlier than your kids did.
So think through your mornings of what you need to get done and what time you need to get everyone out of the house. As I mentioned above, two mornings a week come this fall we will have to be out of the house at a certain time with bags packed, lunches made, kids dressed and breakfast eaten. That means I need to be organized. Some of those things, like packing bags and making lunches, can be done the night before. Also you can plan which clothes to wear and even lay out breakfast dishes the night before too to make the morning run well.
Some questions to think about as you work towards making a successful morning routine are:
- What time do you want to get up?
- What items do you need to get done before the kids wake up?
- What time do the kids need to get up?
- What time do we need to get out of the house?
- What things need to get done before we leave the house but after the kids wake up?
No one likes to wake up super early after spending the past few months sleeping in, so just like you gradually decrease the time you stay up at night, you also want to gradually increase the time you wake up in the morning.
Evaluate the Daily Routine
Finally in planning for your fall schedule, you also want to think through your daily routine. If your kids are in school this is probably when you try to get most of the chores and errands done if you don’t work outside the home. If your kids are still at home, like mine, you want to think through your days and create a flexible routine based on the activities and tasks that need to be done.
I like to sit down with some paper and create a schedule based on the events and activities that we already have planned. For example two mornings a week my son will be in preschool, so obviously those mornings have time commitments that are pretty set in stone. Do you have a Bible study planned? Mom’s group, like MOPS, that you will attend? What about work schedules and other activities that have a set time? By writing those out you will get a good idea of how your days will lay out.
Next think through your cleaning and chores list. These are the things that need to get done but you have more flexibility to get them done. Some like to assign chores to a certain day, I prefer to just assign a chore time in my daily routine and get done what I can. This means that some days I might be lighter on the chores where as other days depending on our schedule, more gets done.
Some questions to think about as you work through your daily routine:
- What time commitments do you already have scheduled?
- What are the chores and tasks that need get done each week?
- What activities would you like to schedule?
- How do you want to spend intentional time with your kids everyday?
Taking some time and thinking through your daily routine will help you get a plan in place so that way you can be intentional with your time. It doesn’t have to be a super structured, time based schedule, rather it can be a basic outline of how you want your days to look.
Taking the time now to start planning your evenings, mornings and days for the upcoming fall will help everyone in your family get into a new routine before the demanding schedules of a new school year begin.
What are you doing to get your family ready for back to school time?
Images from Pixaby
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