Summer is winding down and schools are back in session.  That usually leaves families with new routines or trying to remember the old ones.  Whether you are someone who organizes every item, or just need a way to enter and exit the house better, everyone can benefit from a few good tips this time of year.

Tip #1:  Get a calendar and use it!  Calendars can be pin/paper, phone app, chalk board ... you name it.  Format doesn't matter.  Choose one that works for your family.  Shared calendar apps can be a great method since people can add and see information no matter where they are.  Many of these apps also provide space for important information, like names and phone numbers, grocery and to-do lists, etc.  But there is nothing wrong with a calendar and lists on the refrigerator if that keeps everyone informed.

Tip #2:  Meal Plan and pre-prep meals.  Although this sounds "old school", mealtime is one of the most stressful times of the day.  Anything you can do to make it easier will help everyone.  Especially since we know families who eat at home eat healthier and are more likely to sit down together while eating.  Both helping school performance and mental health.  Again, there are many websites and apps available to get you started with meal ideas, recipes and planning.  Start small by planning a few meals a week and prepping some basic ingredients to have on hand.

Tip #3:  Prepare the night before.  Packing lunches, backpacks and picking out clothes can save you 10-15 minutes in the morning.  For those trying to get kids up and out the door those are valuable minutes!  Make lists of morning routines to avoid the constant reminders for what needs to happen next.

Tip #4:  Organize your entrance and exit.  Use hooks, baskets, bins, bags ... Make things easy to drop off in a specific place and pick back up quickly.  Shoes, backpacks, keys, paperwork and special activity bags all need a designated space by the door where you arrive and exit.  This is also helpful for tip #3 when you are making sure everything is ready for the next day.

Tip #5:  Create an evening routine:  This can be difficult with special events and afterschool activities; however, it is important to establish routines regardless of your child's age.  Predictable routines help reduce stress, help accomplish tasks and create times for families to engage.  If routines include time for homework, family communication and downtime (screen time, play, exercise, etc.) the order of when they happen isn't important.  Figure out what works for you, your kids and schedule.

Family life can and will pose its challenges, however, with a little organization and planning the everyday shouldn't be stressful or overwhelming.

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