(StatePoint) The start of a new school year is a hectic time for families. Between shopping for clothes and supplies, doctor appointments and adjusting to new schedules, parents and children can feel frazzled and frayed.
Here are some ways to beat back the chaos and ease your family’s transition:
Establish a Routine
Set a wake-up time and decide whether to serve kids breakfast before or after getting ready. After school, let kids decompress alone or by playing with friends. But set a time when all entertainment stops and studying begins.
Make sure to take into consideration all those standing appointments and pre-scheduled activities.
Families traditionally turned to pen, paper and the refrigerator to coordinate calendars, schedules, shopping lists, and other to-dos — but nowadays, this is often inefficient. Go digital instead, so your schedule comes to you and you can coordinate from your computers and cell phones.
Consider one of the free Web services available that brings families together online, such as Cozi.com, which allows you to create a calendar, coordinate schedules, and send text or e-mail reminders to family members about appointments and errands. You can even sync your Cozi calendar and shopping lists with your cell phones and mobile devices, so nobody has an excuse for missing that soccer game!
Create a Studying Space
Create a quiet place for schoolwork, making sure it’s well-lit and stocked with supplies, like highlighters, calculators, and a computer. It’s best if it’s not the kitchen table, where noise and dinner can interrupt concentration.
The breakfast and dinner table, however, is a great place to discuss your family’s schedules and to-do lists.
Scheduling recreation is as important as scheduling homework. By asking kids what their favorite activities are and making time for them to do things they like, you can teach your kids balance. Pre-scheduling recreation, like a family game or movie night, can show kids that relaxation time is important.
Check it Off
Creating checklists can keep things straight. Ironing outfits and packing gym clothes at night avoids morning bedlam. Packing lunch the night before also saves time and you’re more likely to provide healthful foods, instead of slapping something together last minute.
Checklists also ensure no one forgets to pack the day’s essentials. Introducing lists the whole family can access will also eliminate nagging and teach kids responsibility and independence. Most importantly, keep them short and manageable.
“Given today’s fast pace, most families have to multitask to survive. With good common sense and the latest free online tools, it’s easier to get parents and kids on the same page and make a busy life into a better life,” says Robbie Cape, CEO of Cozi.com.
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