4 tips for stress-free back to school

All you need is a list and a good head on your shoulders, writes GENEVIEVE MATTHEWS

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The school holidays are drawing to a close and it’s time to get ready for the new school year.  For many mums, getting organised for back to school can involve a lot of running around, shopping for new shoes and uniforms, digging out the old ones, buying new notebooks and stationery equipment – the list is endless.
“By the time the night before school comes around, mums can often feel frazzled and that’s before getting the kids out of the door on time the next morning,” says Genevieve Matthews, mother of two and founder of ‘Schools Coming’ – an online and printed educational resource to help parents organise the back to school routine.
Genevieve says the key is planning out the routine and delegating responsibility.
“As busy mums, we often end up doing it all. From making breakfast, to clearing up the dishes, supervising face washing and teeth cleaning.  There are so many tasks we have to do to keep everything running smoothly in the mornings. However by involving the children, you not only take the strain off yourself, you empower them and give them autonomy which builds independent thinking and confidence – skills that will set them up for life.
Here are her top tips:
1. Pre-plan – this is more than a routine, this is about understanding the desired flow for the week, term, activities and timing. Communicate this in advance so that the family is working together and has an action plan around making the days work harmoniously and effectively.  

Kids and parents should understand what they each have on. Have a family meeting before the new term starts.  You can even make up your own planning chart together using different colour pens for different activities.  I like to use FriXion Colors because they are erasable so if plans change, you can rub them out without making a mess. 
2.  Make a list – together with your children, list all the tasks that need to be completed in order to get to school on time.  Kids love to volunteer what they think so make it a fun activity! Start with night before task, e.g.: ‘lay out clean uniform and shoes’, ‘pack fruit in lunch-box’, pack sports uniform.
For children still learning to read, you can use symbols and pictures to make it easy for them to understand.
3. Delegate – by involving children in the planning process, you are giving them a voice and this approach removes you from being the ‘nagging’ one.

This way, they are much more likely to take ownership and put their hand up for tasks.  Mutually agree and assign tasks so everyone knows their role.
4. Stay Positive – easier said than done in the moment, especially when children are lagging and time is marching on.  Check in on the progress of their routine and encourage them to refocus if they have become distracted.

Ask them to advise you how they’re tracking, so they are responsible for their achievements and wins along the way, rather than nagging and reminding them every step of the way.
“Having great morning routines for each family member takes practice and working together. To keep it harmonious and fun, remember to laugh, keep practicing and persevering. It’s worth the effort now setting your kids up with great habits and skills around teamwork and time management for later in life!” says Genevieve.
For more tips and advice on setting up a back to school routine that works for your family, visit http://www.schoolscoming.com.

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