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EAST COAST MOMMY: Five tips for managing chaos before and after school

Having kids do their homework right after school whenever possible can cut down on chaos. Setting up a homework station is another great way to encourage kids to work independently.
Having kids do their homework right after school whenever possible can cut down on chaos. Setting up a homework station is another great way to encourage kids to work independently. - Gina Bell

Now that school is back in full swing, and many sports and activities have started up again, the time “before” and “after” school has become extremely chaotic in many homes.

Parents are adjusting to new schedules and routines, and they are struggling to get more organized. Today, I am sharing my best tips and tricks for managing “before” and “after" school chaos.

1. Make sure the kids get enough sleep 

After six months away from school, it has been difficult for many parents to transition children back to early bedtimes. An over tired child will struggle physically and mentally, so a good sleep schedule needs to be a priority. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is helpful. You may also consider building in a half hour for the kids to read in bed, as it gives them time to settle their minds and bodies.

2. Use student planners and a family calendar

Every child should have a planner or notebook in his/her backpack to keep track of homework and afterschool activities. It is also useful to have a family calendar in a place where everyone can see it. It’s an important tool for ensuring that all family members are aware and prepared for all activities.

3. Prepare food ahead of time

Having cut up vegetables, granola bars, fruit, yogurt tubes, and energy balls ready for hungry kids for after school snacking will make life easier for parents and kids alike. - Gina Bell
Having cut up vegetables, granola bars, fruit, yogurt tubes, and energy balls ready for hungry kids for after school snacking will make life easier for parents and kids alike. - Gina Bell

 

Using the weekends and/or downtime in the evenings to prep food is a wonderful way to make sure a household runs smoothly. Stock the fridge, pantry, and freezer with healthy snacks, school lunch options, and supper staples. I love to have frozen baked goods and lunch options (like frozen French toast and biscuits) in the freezer. It’s also helpful to have cut up vegetables, granola bars, fruit, yogurt tubes, and energy balls ready for (and easily accessible to) hungry kids for after school snacking.

4. Establish routines

Every member of the family should do their best to establish efficient routines and good habits. Empty lunch bags and do homework right after school whenever possible, and have “grab and go” bags ready for after school activities. These “grab and go” bags can include sports gear, COVID screening forms, masks, snacks, water bottles, required equipment, etc. If family members aren’t rushing around looking for stuff, everyone will be less anxious and more likely to arrive at their destination on time and with all the items they need.

Laying out clothes and making lunches in the evenings is also wise. It is a great way to bring order to mornings and make things run more smoothly.

5. Set up organization systems

Over the door shoe racks are good for more than just footwear. Use the compartments to store school supplies to make homework a breeze. - Gina Bell
Over the door shoe racks are good for more than just footwear. Use the compartments to store school supplies to make homework a breeze. - Gina Bell

 

Taking some time to organize your home will definitely help to make your family’s schedule seem less chaotic. Set up systems that allow for everything in your house to have a “home”, and make sure family members know where that “home” is.

In our house, we don’t have a mudroom, but we have a designated area in our garage with baskets for shoes and hooks for coats. We also use “over the door” hooks to hang backpacks and get them off the floor.

Other helpful ways to get organized include: setting up a system for sorting paperwork, organizing drawers and bins, and setting up a homework station. If space is an issue, over the door shoe racks are wonderful because they compartmentalize items and make their contents visible and accessible. We have one in our kitchen (on the door heading down to our basement) that holds all the items the kids need to do their homework.

Finding time to organize and put systems in place can be difficult, but a small investment now will pay huge dividends in the future. These five tips really help me managed the chaos in my own home. I hope you find them useful too!

Gina Bell writes the East Coast Mommy column, which runs every second week. Follow her blog at www.EastCoastMommy.com or contact her at eastcoastmommy@gmail.com.

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