Stress-Less at Back to School: Simple Tools & Tips for Busy Families

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VolunteerSpot makes your volunteer life easier; check out these simple tips for making your family life stress-less during this busy back-to-school season:

Mornings:

Teach your kiddos how to use an alarm clock:

Believe it or not, the younger the better! Back to school is exciting and being in charge of your own responsibilities helps kids feel even more grown up (and in control).

Use music to motivate:

How many things can you get done in one song?
-Brush your teeth, make your bed & get dirty laundry tossed in the basket
-Pack your lunch
-Get out the door: put on shoes, jacket & grab all items needed for the day

By making it a game everyone (including the parents) forget to be stressed!

After School:

Healthy Snacks:

The trick to succeeding in the after school snack arena is in the “grab-n-go”.

1.  Ask your kids to help you make a list of foods they like to snack on
2.  Head to the grocery store or one of those bulk warehouse places & purchase at least 5 items from the list
3.  Once home (and here’s the step everyone overlooks) store the after school stuff in snack-friendly ways:
-Small containers / snack baggies filled with crackers or nuts in a cabinet,
-maybe in the fridge they’ll find blueberries or carrots
-Group “pre-approved” snacks together so there’s no reason to interrupt anyone else
4. Do you have Snack Duty for teams or activities? Buy a non-perishable snack like granola bars and case of juice
boxes or water at the start of the season so you’re ready to go when it’s your turn. TIP: Offer to organize the snack
schedule quickly and easily with simple signups by VolunteerSpot. Automated reminders mean you’ll never miss
your turn!

Homework:

Establishing a positive homework routine at the start of the year makes things run smoother later on when workload ramps up.

1. Start at the same time each day in the same place – free from TV and other distractions
2. Skip the search – have materials ready. TIP: enlist the kids to stock a homework ‘tackle box’ with everything they might need, e.g. pencils, erasers, markers, glue sticks, calculator, scissors, compass, gum, wifi password
3. Work it smart: Each day ask the kids to make a list of all their assignments and start with the hardest one while they’re the freshest
4. Refuel with power-play breaks – 5 minutes between assignments

Set expectations:

If your child is home alone afterschool, establish what the routine should be (and practice it before school starts). Post the steps on the fridge as a reminder; they may look something like this:

1. Be in the house before 3:15pm
2. Lock the door behind you
3. Text me that you’ve made it home safe
4. Eat your {healthy} snack
5. Feed/water the animals
6. Start on your homework
7. Set the table for dinner at 5:30pm

Night Time:

Dinner:

Avoiding the drive-thru as a quick on-the-go dinner solution is a serious uphill battle, especially during the transition to school time. Tricks we’ve come up with over the years:

1. Grocery Store Prepared Counters. Not the healthiest, but often a much better solution than fast food or cereal (again).
2. Leftovers. When you do cook, double (or triple) the batch – you’re already in the kitchen, might as well make it a power session!
3. Restaurants. Not to sit down & eat in, but to call your “to-go” order in. Enter contact information and bookmark menus to your favorites on your smartphone.

Bedtime Routines:

Make the final act before starting the bed time routine packing the backpack for the next day –

1. Homework
2. Special project items
3. Gear for after-school activities

Practice these new strategies and before you know it, school will be in full-swing and your stress-less family routine will become second nature. Happy Back-to-School!

April Welch is an organization expert, speaker, and veteran mom of two teenage boys. Check out her tips for Decluttering Throughout the Academic Year and meet April at About.me/AprilWelch.
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