It happens every year. I associate my kids' first week back at school with a return to routine and a predictable span of hours to work and think. Much as I'm sad to see summer fade, I think: it's easier during the school year.
But it isn't.
At least it isn't right away.
I forget that each year brings new routines. This year, my kids started middle- and high school, so the supplies, transportation and expectations are all different.
The back in "back to school" is also misleading, because the last time my kids went back to school, they were a year younger. They've grown in sophistication and competence, so our routines need change to reflect that.
Back to school has gone beautifully in my house. Both kids have taken up the challenge of new schools and bigger responsibilities with gusto. It hasn't always been this way, so it feels like a small miracle.
I'm also hard at work on a new book so I need the kids to take more responsibility for handling the daily details.
- I've planned 7-8 dinners that are easy to prepare, and we're going to eat those meals on rotation till the manuscript gets turned in. I did this while writing Minimalist Parenting, too.
- I've given my kids more household chores, printed up (and laminated) charts for them to check, and set daily reminders to myself to follow up each evening. Honestly, I've been the weak link in past attempts to set and enforce chores…I find it hard to consistently do my own chores.
- I'm collaborating with two new families on a carpool to my daughter's new school, My son walks to and from himself.
- I had the kids write up lists of school lunch ideas so I didn't have to wrack my brain every morning. I also bought new easy-wash lunch containers that make lunch packing a snap.
- I restocked our school supply drawer so no one's asking where the pencils, tape and rulers are.
- My husband and I shuffled responsibilities to give me more time and mental space to work. I am lucky to have such a supportive, flexible partner.
There are tons more ideas floating around the Internet right now. One of my recent favorites is this collection of back to school organization projects at Modern Parents Messy Kids.
But finding, tracking and implementing new ideas comes with its own special version of overload. So try not to feel obligated to overhaul or perfect every aspect of your back to school routine. All my family needed were tweaks to what we were already doing, and I expect it will evolve as the year goes on.
How's your September going? Have you come up with any back-to-school hacks you think might help someone else?
Share in the comments so we can give you a high five.
"A new book?" you ask? Yes! I'm hard at work compiling the best of Parent Hacks (and much more) into a book for Workman Publishing, due out in 2016. Want to keep me company? And get insider access to the book writing process, plus special event invitations once the book is available? Sign up for VIP updates here.