Back to it: 5 Ideas for Smooth Septembers
Posted on: Monday September 9th, 2019
Posted by: Melissa Sawatzky
Yes, it’s that time of year. Labour Day weekend reminds us that summer is soon to be a distant memory. In our household we are preparing for Grade 1, a transition into a new preschool-room, and once again enjoying the sounds of our many pre-set alarms in the morning (to remind us to get up, to remind us to go to the car, to remind us we are late getting up and going to the car).
Whether your crew is heading back to school, entering child care for the first time, or simply looking for a return to routine, there are some proven ways to get ‘back to it’. As I have the luck of working alongside, well, um, thousands of educators and early childhood experts, here are some ideas we have.
1. Have a game plan. I am the first to admit that no game plan is a lot easier in the time leading up to a back-to-routine time, but have come to accept over the years and three children that pre-planning and expectation management can save your soul on the first day of ‘back to it’ and the weeks that follow. We read information, fill out forms, get groceries and make sure we have clean clothes and bags ready. Preparedness!
2. Extra time. Especially for the first while of a new or returning routine, give yourself ample morning time. Morning time for families in September is universally disposed to flashing by faster than standard hours and minutes. I cannot believe how unproductive we are some days. Well … maybe I can.
3. Think about lunch. There is a lovely Instagrammer from my area under the name @bowsandbentos who posts lunch ideas for school-age children in beautiful bento boxes with these cute little holders. There is absolutely no way I can replicate the food or presentation that she manages for her children, but she and Chef Lisa and so many others offer great ideas for lunches. You don’t need a bento box, but do put a bit of thought into lunches because trying new approaches will make it more appealing for both the packer and the eater. The Kidco Kitchen knows that thoughtful food means health and energy for both kids and adults!
4. Put it on the kids. I know I’m the parent and should be super-duper organized, but well, here we are. I’ve realized that my short-comings in organization are a great learning opportunity (and hand-off) to my children. We have pre-assigned chores for our older boys that help them earn an allowance, and recently we made one of them be to get their toddler sister dressed. I mean, she wears questionable outfits and some days they really need my help to ‘encourage’ her cooperation, but many days this task happens without too much involvement. It’s amazing what our kids can do if handed the responsibility (and in some cases, motivation) and morning routines are no different. This approach is VERY backed up by the routines at Kids & Company, where children serve themselves food and clear their own dishes, even at a toddler age – it makes them capable and responsible, instead of just being passive bystanders moving through the day. Not only will mornings feel more like teamwork, putting it on the kids helps build the independence, leadership and accomplishment of a rising generation -> BONUS.
5. Let things settle – and after time re-visit. One September we had a child starting school for the first time while I was returning to full-time work and our baby was starting structured child care. Week Two equalled an all-out breakdown. We discussed and agreed to give it a bit more time based on the fact that there were so many changes at once, and agreed to see how the next two weeks went in case we could hit a groove. Alas, no groove was hit, so we decided to make changes in how we did morning drop-off and pick-up routines and found a way to get some help with specific tasks around the house to ease the pressure. Give yourself some time to settle, but make sure not to just power through if things aren’t working long-term.
Melissa lives in Calgary and is the Director of Brand Strategy for Kids & Company. Her vision of what she would be like as a mom was shattered years ago when she discovered nothing ever goes as planned for parents, but laughter and community sees you through. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org