As school days start up again, the time crunch begins. The laid-back days of summer transition to a more frantic family pace with schedules to be met for work and school, carpools and after school athletics and club activities, time for homework and hopefully a slice of time for family recreation. While you can't add extra hours to a busy day, you can save some time with smart strategies and helpful routines.
Before school begins, start adjusting your children's schedule for earlier bedtimes so they'll get used to waking up near the time they'll need to get up on school days. Kids need enough sleep to perform well in school and keep concentration high, so it's important to set a reasonable bedtime for school-aged children. With enough rest, they'll wake up more easily and be ready for the day. You'll avoid starting school mornings behind schedule with kids who can't get going!
Have your kids select their school clothes and accessories the night before, so their morning routine is streamlined. Laying out clothes for the next day eliminates wasted morning time.
Take care of daily tasks the night before. Prepare school lunches, set the table for breakfast and have the coffee maker ready to go! On busy school mornings, you'll be ahead of schedule if the basics are done.
Set up an area for kids to store backpacks and book bags. When they come home from school or after homework, make it a habit to return items they'll need the next day to a specific place so there's no frantic search or wasted time when they head out the door.
Designate an area where children can study and do homework. A quiet space free of distractions is ideal and working there will allow them to get their assignments done more quickly.
Limit nighttime exposure to television and computer games, cell phones and texting. Turning off electronic devices frees up time for family dinners and recreation, as well as concentrating on studies. This will also allow kids to wind down in the evenings and get to bed on time.
More than one child to get ready in the morning? Wake them up ten minutes apart, oldest first. On this schedule, each has time to shower and there's no backup waiting for a turn in the bathroom.
Create your morning routine with a checklist. Figure out what needs to be done and have a list for each child so they can check items off as completed. When your kids know what needs to be done without constant reminders, it frees up time for parents to get ready, too!
Have easy breakfast items on hand so kids can serve themselves or grab and go on mornings when everyone is running behind schedule. Muffins, breakfast bars and individual dry cereals are portable and handy.
Post a family planner in a prominent place so you can see after school activities and appointments at a glance.
Hang a mirror in a hallway or well-lighted area in your teen's room. They'll be able to finish their morning grooming routine out of their high-traffic bathroom vanity area.
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