By Courtney Clark
After a long (maybe too long?) summer break, it’s time to get your kids back to school. Hallelujah!
But the first month of school is prime time for stress around your house, as everyone tries to shake their lazy summer habits and jump right back into the busy-ness of the school year.
If your family is stressed and high-strung the first several weeks of school, here are some chaos-management techniques to help your family actually ENJOY the transition of the new school year:
Use the Plus-20 Rule
Everything takes longer than you think it does. And when you’re talking about getting back to your rigid schoolyear schedule, that goes double.
Build an extra 20 minutes into every single commute, mealtime, and bedtime. I’ve found that when I’m getting into a new routine, 15 minutes isn’t *quite* enough of a buffer, but 30 is too long. Try making room for 20 extra minutes per activity in your schedule, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get there on time.
(You can also adapt this rule for projects and test studying, too! Give yourself an extra day per major assignment. Everything takes longer than you expect when you’re getting back into the swing of it.)
Hire the Professionals (0r the Semi-Pros)
When I was teaching my son to drive, I had a realization. I should NOT be teaching my son to drive. Somebody else should!
If you have high-stress, conflict-inducing activities in your household, like math homework, parents shouldn’t be the ones to oversee that activity. Hire a professional math tutor, get a college kid to come oversee homework two nights a week, or maybe staff the job out to a math-whiz friend who owes you a favor.
If you and your kids get into the habit of arguing now, this early in the school year, that’s a tough habit to break as the months wear on. Your kids are bound to be more respectful to anyone who isn’t you. So hire someone else to help with whatever the worst stuff is at your house, and enjoy the peace that follows.
Institute Work Hours
When I was growing up, we had “homework time” – it reached up to 2-3 hours a night once I was in high school. Depending on the age of your child, designate Work Hours time that’s just for work.
If they say “I don’t have homework tonight,” great! They don’t have to do school homework, but they have to work on something. It can be a book, a project, or just a general interest. Anything but TV, phone, or video games. Adjust the age upwards as they grow.
And EVERYONE in the family participates in Work Hours, not just kids. This way, you’re modeling the diligent behavior you want to see, and you’re giving your kids less of an excuse to zip through their homework and grab the remote control.
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