The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and school is almost back in session! For a lot of parents, kids going back to school is an exciting time. You get more time to take care of your personal needs/schedule/work, it’s a little quieter around the house, and you’re not having to figure out what your kids will be doing from 8-4 every day. With this excitement though, there is also the struggles! Getting your kids to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, making sure homework and projects are being done, monitoring cell phone use more tightly, and balancing extracurricular schedules with school schedules can be exhausting. Creating a consistent schedule for you and your family is KEY to minimizing the back to school challenges that often come up. Below are some tips and idea of how to do this.
Create a realistic schedule together.
Before school starts, sit down with your kids and come up with what their daily before and after school schedule will look like. Allowing your kids to participate in this process will allow them to be empowered and have a sense of control of what their day will look like. It will also remove any opportunity for rules and responsibility to be a surprise (ie: “But I didn’t know I had to finish my homework before using the ipad!” or “I have to go to bed at 8pm now? Why?!”) that leads to arguing. The idea of being realistic with the schedule is paramount in reducing stress for yourself and allowing this schedule to be maintained. Let your kids (and you!) have breaks in between responsibilities. Transition time between school, homework, chores, dinner and sleep is necessary to reduce exhaustion and increase compliance.
Set limits and boundaries around social media and technology.
Make it clear from day 1 what the rules around being on the phone, tablet, video games, computer look like. What needs to be accomplished before your technology can be used? At what time do phones needs to be turned off or turned in? What do the consequences look like if the rules are not followed? Once your rules are established, it is up to you to STAY CONSISTENT with them. If you don’t follow through with the consequences, your kids will push the limits every time because there is no reason not to.
Don’t forget the down time.
Scheduling in family or independent down time is a must. It re-charges your battery as well as your child’s. This may be a weekly family movie night, a time when you all cook together, a bi-weekly walk, or just some quiet alone time of each person’s choosing. By adding this component into your weekly schedule, you are modeling to your kids the importance of self care and giving them tools of how to slow down when the day to day gets hectic.
If your kiddos are too young to create the schedule with you and maintain it just by communication, creating a fun chalkboard reminder or using a daily routine chart where they can mark off what they have done and see what comes next can be helpful and instills responsibility.
Feel free to email me with any questions or ideas on how to create your family’s back to school schedule!
Stacey Ojeda, MA, LMFT #100694