The excitement of the first week back at school has now died down and many kids are once again dragging themselves out of bed, whining about homework and are generally reluctant to get back into the rhythm of the school schedule.
Here are a few suggestions that may make life a bit easier.
Make bedtime earlier. Many of us have the intention of getting the kids back to their "normal" bedtime the week before school starts. Some are able to make that happen and others like myself fall short of that goal each year. The key, experts say, is to get them into a routine that ensures they get enough rest each night which in turn will make them easier to deal with in the mornings (theoretically). Even if you weren't able to adjust the bedtime routine before school starts, you can still pull it off.
Don't forget breakfast. Kids, especially mine, rush around most mornings grabbing last minute items they swore they packed in their bags the night before. In this frenzy, they often forget breakfast. Even if they grab a Gogurt or a toasted waffle, experts say it will benefit them greatly by improving their mood and ability to function during school. Numerous studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast before school are more attentive and perform better than their peers who don't eat before heading out the door. If you are worried about the nutritional value of a frozen waffle here's my tip: buy the Nutrigrain Eggo waffles. I don't know if they are really better but it makes me feel like a better mother.
Lay clothes out the night before. Here's another tip that works if you can remember it. Any parent, particularly of a girl, knows this can be a lifesaver. Agree to the outfit the night before to save time (and arguments) in the morning before heading to school. This also helps avoid my personal favorite--when kids ask if the shirt they need to wear is clean at 8:20 a.m. when they need to be at school at 8:30 a.m. The shirt is, of course, at the bottom of their hamper. If they had asked the night before, there is a good chance I might actually have washed it for them if I wasn't too exhausted.
Designate a homework zone. For little ones, a kitchen table or dining room table is the perfect work space so that parents, grandparents or the babysitter can get household chores done while helping lower grade students complete their homework. Older kids should have a quiet area where they can spread their materials out and get work done. This area tends to have a pile of junk the size of Mt. Everest piled on it by the end of summer in my sixth grader's room, so we have an annual "desk cleaning" so that she can actually use it.
Buy one of those dorky family calendars. I finally relented and it has made my life easier. Each family member has their own column and we can clearly identify conflicts and plan for them in advance. My husband even checks it before he heads out the door (most mornings) and knows when he needs to try and get back home, especially on those nights where are three kids are going in different directions and we need to be at parent-teacher meetings. The kids use it and budget their time. It has really cut down on the homework arguments because they can see when their practice, dance class, etc. is that day and they know they aren't going unless the homework is completed.
I wish you all well in returning to the school year schedule. I'm exhausted and it is only September.