5 Simple Steps to Ease Into a Back to School Rhythm
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
What is it about the back to school rush that feels both overwhelming and exciting? On one hand, it’s grounding for the kids to start a solid schedule and get back into their own rhythm. Whether your kiddos attend public, private school, school at home or are not in school yet, there is a fresh-start feeling to the new school year that can invigorate your home life as well. On the other hand, the back to school rush can complicate the already packed family calendar with carpool days, extra-curriculars, last minute school projects, and rushing to make sure the kids have all of the supplies and clothes they need. Back to school should be an intentional slowing down from the high-energy summer season and easing into reliable daily routines and a weekly rhythm. Here are five tips for creating more peace and simplicity during the back to school season:
1| Set Boundaries for Extracurriculars and Time Commitments
As the back to school season hits a frenzied pitch, there will be more and more demands on your family’s time. Whether it’s parent committees for you to join, clubs and sports for the kiddos, and volunteer opportunities, it’s so imperative to set boundaries for how you will use your time. If you’re asked to commit to a new responsibility or time commitment and it’s not an immediate yes, than it’s most likely a no. Remember your values, honor your family’s need for white space in your schedule and avoid overscheduling yourselves.
Bottom Line: If you want less stress and more ease in your back to school rhythm, protect your family’s free time by saying no.
2| Disconnect to Reconnect
When the whole family returns home after a long day of work and school, consider turning off and dropping your phones and other devices in a basket while the evening routine takes place. Use this time together to connect as a family, to be present with one another, and to begin a slow wind-down to bedtime. Honor your family’s need for face to face contact after a day of being apart. If you’re a homeschool family, also find blocks of time during your day to go screen and phone-free.
Bottom Line: Screens disrupt face to face connection, so put them away when everyone gets home from work and school.
3| Create a Daily Heart to Heart Ritual
In the afterschool rush, it’s so tempting to launch immediately into the dinner and bedtime routine. Instead, I recommend designating at least 15 minutes to reconnect with your children free from distractions and the evening to To Do list. Whether that’s kicking a soccer ball around the backyard together or snuggling on the couch to talk about your days, use this time to intentionally connect with your kiddos. Children spend all day navigating tough emotions and keeping it together; providing them with a safe place to release emotions if needed will deepen your relationship and smooth your entry into the evening routine.
Bottom Line: Make sacred a block of time to reconnect with your children after school and give them at least 15 minutes of undivided, focused attention.
4| Designate Drop Spots
School and work clutter can really slow down the evening routine. As you return home from work and school (or reset from a day of homeschooling), it may feel easier to drop lunch bags, school and work papers, and bags by the front door. After all, it’s been a long day and if there aren’t systems in place, it’s less likely items will be returned to where they belong. The goal instead is to create designated drop spots for daily school and work items. Hang hooks by the front door for backpacks (or inside a coat closet), use an upright magazine box to collect school papers, and teach your children to set their lunch bags by the sink when they get home.
Bottom Line: A few quick minutes of returning school and work items to their proper homes will ease your evening routine and help the family prepare for the next day.
5| Embrace Essentialism
Your days might become more complicated, dinner may end up being frozen pizza, and bedtime rushed. You may wonder how to juggle it all in a way that actually reflects your family’s values and desire for simplicity. In the moments where your reality doesn’t reflect your ideals, take a deep breath. Ask yourself: what am I holding onto that I can let go of? What is actually essential to our days and what needs to be released? It may “feel” like you need to do all the things, but the reality is that reconnecting as a family, resetting for the next day, and getting good rest are the top priorities. Everything else that often gets tacked on in the evenings is extra and a candidate for mentally or physically decluttering.
Bottom Line: no family home runs perfectly smooth 100% of the time, so use essentialism as a tool to calm your back to school routine and find peace in your days.
As you embrace the onset of Autumn and the days become shorter and busier, remember your WHY and your values. Use those guiding lights to say no more often, to connect deeply as a family, to let go of screens and technology for more face to face time, organize your school and work belongings, and to let go of perfection. Simplicity is the ultimate antidote and solution to the busy, back to school rush and will add ease and peace to your family’s home.