Things Every Stay-at-Home Parent Needs To Do

Amy Thayer

 Many times we have had that panicked feeling of not being ready at the start of school. We aren’t ready for the chaos that ensues and lasts at least until the first quarter is over.  When the year begins with chaos, that chaos seems to linger, and it is maddening.  Life is busy and challenging enough, so anything you can do to make things is a blessing for all members of the family—because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
When my kids were in school I vowed we would not start the year with chaos. I did not make humongous or drastic changes, but small ones I put into place had a huge impact. 
Here are my tips to prepare you to have an Awesome School year:
So what did I do you might ask?  Planned, organized, practiced, communicated and tried to remain flexible.
1) Start your new morning routine before the school year begins. I made sure that we were got on a school schedule sooner rather than later. Getting enough sleep is so important for both mom and kids. If I’m not getting enough sleep, I’m going to be grouchy and impatient the next day. If the kids don’t get enough sleep, they are not going to have a great day at school. If they don’t have a great day at school, odds are they will also come home grumpy, and then no one is having a pleasant evening. While I realize not every day is going to be magical, I try to keep the chaos and grouchiness to a minimum.
About a month before school started I changed their sleeping schedule. In the summer I let the boys stay up about 30 minutes later than normal and they sleep in 30-45 min later as well.  Initially, I sent them to bed 15 minutes early and woke them up 15 minutes earlier.  About two weeks after they were good with that I increased it to 20 minutes for a week, and finally I changed it what our normal schedule is. It wasn’t a drastic change so they were able to adjust easily. By the time school started we were already accustom to an earlier bedtime and earlier awake time.
The week before school started I also made sure we got up, ate, brushed teeth, dressed and left the house like we would if were headed to school. A lot of days we just went for a walk around the block, but I wanted them into the habit of being up ready and out the door. 
2) Shop early for back to school. Do your shopping as soon as you get the list of supplies. This way, you’ll beat the rush of the last minute shoppers. Get backpacks packed and ready to go for day one and set them aside. The last thing you want to be doing the night before school starts is rounding up supplies and stuffing backpacks wondering where in the world all the school supplies you purchased last month are.
3) Know the school calendar. Review the school calendar and ensure you know what the start day is as well as if there are any important days or deadlines coming up.
4) Communication is vital. Communication with your kids is so important. Explain to them that you want to set everyone up for the best year so you will be changing your schedule, getting backpacks ready early, etc.  What are your expectations for the year? What are theirs? What ideas to they have to help? When they help come up with solutions and help prepare they are more likely to stick with the plan.
5) Establish clear expectations about afterschool. Establish clear expectations for what you would like their afterschool schedule to look like. Is homework first or do you let them play for a bit?  Establishing a routine for after school is just as important as before school.
6) Have a plan for lunches.  Are you packing lunches or do the kids pack their own lunches? Have all the supplies organized and ready to go. If the kids are packing their own lunches maybe have them practice a few times a week before school starts.  
 7) Establish a clothes routine. Getting dressed can be such a source of chaos before school. To avoid this, get a clothes routine going. Start by asking a few questions. Are your kids getting their own clothes out each day or are you? Are the clothes ready to go and easily accessible? Have them pick their outfit out the night before, then they know when they wake exactly what to put on-- no arguing or time wasted trying to decide what to wear.
8) What is your plan while the kids are at school? What is your plan once they are at school? Do you still have kids at home or are they all in school? Try a schedule for yourself to ensure that you get into a good routine to get things that you need to get done, done and plan break time for yourself. Schedule time to go to the gym or walk or meet up with friends.
And after all this it is important to remain flexible because things can change, this can be especially important to military families. A flexible routine might be the difference between chaos and order.  My kids might not like all the back to school prep we do. They might not love the routine at the beginning of the year, but I know that when things go smoothly they really appreciate it. Sometimes, you’ll find that you need to change up your routines a bit to better suit a certain child’s needs or personality. That is totally okay. Your ultimate goal is to have a happy, successful school year!

I’m mom to three little boys ages 2, 5, and 7. My days are spent trying to prevent my toddler from burning down the house, locking himself in the freezer, and preventing other equally strange and disastrous events. When I’m not busy preventing catastrophe, I homeschool my two older boys. My husband, another big part of my life, is a psychologist with the US Air Force. I have a Bachelor of Science in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. On those rare occasions I get a bit of time to myself, I love to travel, cook, and eat ethnic foods! At Oh So Savvy Mom, a blog that caters to the interests of women and mothers, you’ll find reviews of great products for the family, parenting tips, recipes, and some great giveaways, too!


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