As the leaves change and orientation dates loom, parents will wonder how to stay organized and sane as they juggle school, homework, playdates, soccer schedules and more. Here are insights you can use as you determine how to make this your (and your kids’) best year yet.
1. The calendar issue
It’s time to put an end to paper calendars, beautiful as they may be. An online calendar keeps everyone on the same page and reminds you when it’s time to go to parent-teacher conferences, dance recitals and whatever else may be on the agenda.
There are plenty of great apps out there; Google Calendar and Apple iCloud Calendar are both top-ranked examples. If you’d prefer a new calendar app designed specifically for busy families, Cozi is the frontrunner.
Here are tips to follow as you set-up your calendar:
- Add your partner, nanny or others responsible for pickups and drop-offs to each event as you would for any work-related meeting.
- Consider color-coding by child, activity or location for easy reference.
- Print out the calendar each week and hang it in the kitchen so that your kids can see which activities are each day. (Be sure it’s up-to-date before you print it!)
Most importantly, sit down each Sunday night to review the calendar, update times and locations, and check for potential gaps in coverage.
If for some reason plans go awry, create a communication system with your kids whether you can pick up the phone or not — no message means everything went as planned, and a text or voicemail means they need something else from you. (Cross your fingers it isn’t the soccer bag in the trunk of your car!)
2. Quality time
When you check your calendar on Sunday, see if there’s a day when the whole family can have dinner together. On that night, set a good example by leaving work on time and putting dinner on the table (even if it’s just a quick meal from the grocery store deli). This time should be free of electronics and stress.
We all know that “How was school today?” doesn’t elicit a great response, so here are some questions you can ask to to get the school day conversation started.
3. Establish a nighttime routine
A time and space for homework are crucial. Once at home, check in with your kids to see what needs to be accomplished that night. Remember that kids thrive when they can finish their homework and study in the same place each night. It doesn’t matter if you buy a desk for their room or set up a nook in the kitchen — just make sure your kids’ study spaces are out of hearing distance from the TV.
The television may also be the culprit of why kids don’t always get the sleep they need. It’s important to remember that kids up to the age of 12 require 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night to function optimally. Teenagers require 8½ to 9½ hours of sleep per night. Work together to determine the most realistic bedtime for your child and stick to it. You may also consider having the kids hand over their screens (smartphone, tablet, etc.) to you before they go to bed. This way you’ll be sure they’re not caught up in a group message at 2 a.m.
Finally, as with every routine, consistency is key. By maintaining a schedule that your kids can count on, you’ll have less push back and will likely see a positive result in your kids’ moods the next day.
4. What do I do if…?
If you have young or vulnerable children, it’s important to walk them through various safety scenarios that may arise when you’re not around. Remember, you want to guide them but not scare them about any dangers that may arise. Below are a few examples, and here are additional tips on street smarts.
Q: What do I do if practice ends and you’re not there to pick me up?
I will always do my best to be there on time. But if I’m late, make sure you tell your coach that I am still on my way. She’ll wait with you until I’m there. If you’re really worried, or it’s taking longer than it should, ask to use her phone to call me.
Q: What do I do if I’m home alone and the doorbell rings?
It’s best not to talk with someone you don’t know — whether they are at the door, calling on the phone or trying to talk online. So, be sure to look out a window before opening the door and check caller ID before answering the phone. Ignore direct messages online if you’re not sure who is sending them. You can always apologize later if it was a mistake, but it’s best to be safe.
Q: What do I do if a stranger or family member says you asked them to pick me up from school?
Part of my job as a parent is to make sure you know the plan every day. I would never send a stranger to come get you. And if your aunt or grandpa were coming to get you, I’d tell you — and your school — in advance. There’s no reason to go anywhere with someone I haven’t told you is picking you up.
5. Take some pressure off of yourself
At the beginning of each school year, reevaluate your kids’ responsibilities. Maybe they can start packing their lunches or letting the dogs out before they head to the bus stop. This is a win-win situation, as your children will practice life skills and you will have a little extra time to yourself.
However, if this is the first year your kids will stay home alone, or you aren’t sure you’ve thought of everything, go through the Kids on Their Own Checklist from the Minnesota Safety Council.
If the whirlwind of school responsibilities begins to overwhelm you, lean on those you care about and trust. No parent is perfect, and a support group (in-person or via group message) will allow you to vent about the stresses and let go of any mistakes. These people are also your arsenal of helpers! Parents want to help other parents, but it’s easiest to get assistance if you ask few days in advance.
6. Get your move on
If you’re hoping to move before the school year starts or shortly after, it’s time to start the process now! Follow these simple steps to search by school district as you find your next home:
- Begin your search on the Edina Realty property search.
- Go to property search and select “More filters.”
- Enter in your school district and any other criteria, including: price, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.
- Hit search to find homes available in your desired district.
Let’s do this!
With a little preparation and a few steps taken in advance, you’ll manage the back-to-school rush and get through these next few weeks in a snap!
If you’re considering moving, reach out to the Edina Realty customer care team today. And be sure to follow #SellerInsights and #BuyerInsights on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for more tips on selling your current home.