School is back in session almost everywhere now. It’s ok to celebrate. Really it is. I speak from experience when I tell you the summer months can do a real number on your organization and productivity. I sent my youngest off to college this month, but am having to get used to all the quiet and lack of interruption before I can capitalize on it. This month I am also celebrating Configuration Connection’s seventh birthday. According to Project Happiness, the human species is innately driven to honor the significant moments in life, and doing so brings many personal rewards. So, honoring the advice of Project Happiness, in celebration of Configuration Connection’s birthday, and perhaps to celebrate you having your days back now that the kiddos are in school, here are seven of my top ideas for making the back-to-school season a good one.
1. Oh What to Wear
Choosing the day’s wardrobe can be time consuming. And, rest assured, it will be the morning you are pressed for time that the matching shirt to one’s favorite skirt goes missing. Get ahead of the game by having your child lay out his/her clothes before going to bed. This will enable you to steer clear of any major mismatches and avoid last minute manic dashes through clothes in the dryer, etc.
2. Extra Fun
The extracurricular activities sure bring the fun. They sure bring the equipment, too. Find a home for the cleats, the instruments, the cub scout cap, etc. Organized, designated storage will help you and your child find what they need, when they need it. And, it’ll keep your kitchen counter from becoming a giant catch-all.
3. What’s for Lunch?
If you pack lunches, decide the night before what you plan to include. Check the refrigerator to confirm you have what you need. Give your child the responsibility of cleaning out his/her lunchbox each day when he/she comes home from school. This will ensure you have a clean lunchbox on hand for the next day. And, it will prevent those day-old food surprises no one wants to encounter first thing in the morning.
4. Bag It
First off, have a home for the book bag. And, no, not on your kitchen counter. Designate a spot you and your child can agree upon. Second, decide on a time when you and your child will, together, review, and sign, if necessary, any paperwork sent home. Maybe it fits best to complete this right when the child arrives home. Maybe it works better to do this after dinner. The point is to work it into a routine that makes sense for you and your family.
5. No Dog’s Gonna Eat Your Homework
“I always love it when my child asks for help with homework around 10 p.m.,” said no one, ever. Set the expectation with your child now on when you will be able to review their work or assist them with a project. It is never too early to teach time management.
6. Communication is Key
I don’t think anyone can claim there is a lack of emails from school. We are inundated with messages, pleas and reminders. You don’t want to be the one parent who misses the communication about bringing in a favorite stuffed animal. Not all of it is as time-sensitive as the box top campaign, but you’ll need to stay on top of it. Again, decide on a time that makes sense for you to review the day’s communications from the school. Maybe that is first thing in the morning, while you’re enjoying a cup of coffee. Maybe it is right before the bus is scheduled to drop off. Find what works for you and make it a part of your routine.
7. Don’t Let the Tail Wag the Dog Either
As you work into a routine for all of the school activity, don’t forget to keep your own priorities, obligations and goals in mind. I encourage my clients to take a quick review of the next day’s calendar before leaving the office, or before going to bed. Know what is coming down the pipeline. Don’t get caught off guard.
Whether you’re welcoming some much-needed “me time” or grieving the loss of the laid back and carefree days of summer, you’ll find some planning can make the transition back to school better. Not only will you foster a sense of well-being for yourself, but observing the benefits of planning provides a teachable moment for your children.
Sara Genrich is an Organization and Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop. She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.