Make your home 'back to school' friendly
PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 September 2015
Like it or not, August has come to an end. Will we somehow salvage a little extra warmth from the month of September in the aftermath of a rather squalid and drippy August? Perhaps. But while the weather might change, one thing doesn't: school's no longer out for the summer.
Some parents breathe a sigh of relief when the new academic year kicks in. Others find it hard to cope with their suddenly empty house (and the fact that the school run is a daily occurrence once more).
Whatever you feel about it, lazy summer days are over, and routines need to be re-established. They might simply be the routines of last year - same schools to get to, same start times, same home times, same traffic routes in the morning. They might be considerably different - all four children might now go to schools dotted north, south, east and west of where you actually live. In any case it’s a fresh start for everyone, and a time to reinstate, re-invent and reorganise your household as effectively as you can.
Here are our tips for utilising the start of the new school year to the best of your ability - how to set up your home so that you and the kids are as efficient as ever now that you all have to get up at the same time again.
Rise and shine:
Ever thought about drawing up a morning schedule? It could work better in theory than in practice, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a go. The trick here is to sell it to the kids as a positive tool, rather than as a strict regimental dictatorship. If yours is a house with more than one child and only one bathroom, the USP here is to schedule different kids into different bathroom time-slots on different days. While one might need to be up and at ‘em for the first bathroom shift on a Monday, it’s their sibling’s turn on a Tuesday - and Monday’s child gets an extra 15 minutes lie-in. All of this depends on what your set-up is; but any household can try this. Construct the plan, work it out with the kids, put it up on the wall, make sure everyone checks it the night before, and give it a try.
Dedicate an area of your home to “school stuff”. It’s hands down the best way to avoid the dreaded morning panic. Assign each of your children a hook and a personalised storage space. Perhaps a basket that’s theirs and theirs only. Give them the option to design it how they want (stickers, a sign with their name on it etc) and use it to store all those knick-knacks that they need for school. Tell them to put any letters or forms in it, and check what you might need to read or sign at the end of the day. Affix a school coat hook to the wall - one per child - and ensure that they always put their blazers, coats, bags and scarves on them. These hooks/baskets can be in the hallway, or perhaps in each of the kids’ bedrooms. The point of this is to make sure everything they need is localised and that there’s no “Suzie, where’s your homework/protractor/other glove” situation of a morning.
Pic ‘N’ Mix:
Lunch boxes can be a bind for the parents to put together the night before, and a rush if you leave it til the morning. Kids can be known to complain about what they end up with come lunchtime too. Take the rigmarole out of this daily necessity and install a grab-station in your kitchen - one in the fridge, one on the work top. Make sure that there’s appropriate snacks in each (fruit, yoghurt, drinks in the fridge; nuts, cereal bars, crisps on the work top) and let the children grab what they fancy to put in their lunch boxes in the morning. All you need to do is worry about the sandwiches.
Working from home:
Home time often means homework time. You’re the parent, so it’s up to you how you implement the way you make sure that the homework gets done (as soon as they get home? Do they get a break first?). A good strategy is to make sure each of your children has an assigned homework area. This could be in their bedrooms or all together at the kitchen table. Wherever you choose, they’ll know that it’s their work space, just like they know that their desk at school is also a place to work.
We all have phones, tablets, laptops and an array of other electrical devises for work and education. At the risk of one of the kids (or you!) forgetting to charge these accessories ready for the next day, assign an area of the house for a charging station. Not only does this keep everything in one place, it will make sure that everyone isn’t continually transfixed to their I-phones if the charging station is tucked away in a corner somewhere.
Make sure there’s a laundry system in place. Bathroom, utility room - wherever you like. Just make sure the children know to put their school clothes and gym gear into the appropriate laundry basket on the appropriate day. This lowers of the risk of not having the football kit washed and ready for match day.
Going to school isn’t just about the children. Parents have massive amounts of involvement in it and you deserve to assign yourself your own space, just for the educational aspect of your life. Whether its a corner in the kitchen or a desk in your study, this is where you store all the forms and notes and timetables that you need to keep a check on. Whether you organise electronically or on a physical calendar or notice board, do it all here. It’s a way of making sure you’ve got everything you need, as a parent, in one secure area of your home.