You don't have to get out of summer mode quite yet, but if you haven't already started, getting your household in order for September isn't such a bad idea. 

Have you started to think yet about getting your household in order for the new school year? I know you're probably thinking I feel so much pressure with that question, LOL! The reality is that you have four weeks before the running around, juggling work, school, chauffeuring children, parents, and spouses to work, school, activities, appointments, and commitments... Isn't it exhausting thinking about it?! Well, thinking ahead and putting some strategies in place before the first day of school can help to make the transition back to school a less exhausting and smoother one.

Here are a few strategies we swear by:

RE-INTRODUCE SCHOOL WORK.

If the children have been home for the summer break and school or anything to do with academics has been far removed, they will need time to adjust from play, to work then play. Last year we registered our son who was 4-years-old in a two-week full-day summer camp for the last two weeks of August. This year, our son who is five and daughter who is three, see a tutor twice per week to go over material they covered last school year. Their tutor has a pool and dog and so our children get to have a lot of fun in between working.

You can register your children in camps for the length of days you can afford and what works best with your family schedule. Make sure your children attend camps where you can expect them to reinforce discipline, structure, and academics. Fun is the beginning of learning for children so make sure to expect that the program is fun and includes plenty of outdoor playtimes. There are several camps that run in the month of August located across the greater Toronto area and are readily found online. The one we used last year was French-based and involved the arts which had our son using his creative mind and building skills. Worksheets and subject-specific academic books are also great resources that you can tailor according to your child's age and stage of development.

HAVE A REGULAR BEDTIME ROUTINE.

Reconnect the whole family with a normal bedtime before school begins in earnest. Our children are young enough that if we shut the blinds from Mr. Sunshine our verbal and nonverbal (pre-bedtime rituals) are enough to convince them that it's time for bed. So that it is not a shock to their system, get the children started a few minutes earlier each night. Start moving up bedtime, dinner, pre-bedtime rituals and electronic sundown. If your child has had a full day of work and play their mouths may utter "I'm not tired" but their eyelids will likely shut during a bedtime story or quiet prayer - it never fails in our household. Not only is this something to start with the children, but it's also a healthy goal for the adults to get into going to bed at a regular time.

KITCHEN CLEANUP ROUTINE.

All hands are on deck in our kitchen cleanup. Dishwashers serve a purpose when used smartly. From our 3-year-old up everyone helps out with keeping the kitchen clean. After mealtime, everyone from the oldest to the youngest clear their plates and place their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. At the end of the day, my husband and I ensure that the surfaces are wiped and clean and the children take turns starting the dishwasher. The wash cycle runs at night which helps to save on energy and money. If a dish or two needs to be cleaned in the day we wash them by hand. The children like to pull their steps up to the kitchen sink to help with washing dishes and we encourage them because it will change when they get older. In the morning my husband or I (whoever is first in the kitchen) unloads and puts away clean dishes ready for another day’s use.

DUST OFF THE ALARM CLOCKS AND FOOL YOURSELF.

Set alarm clocks for the time you would like everyone to wake up knowing that hitting the snooze button disturbs the body's natural rhythm and the overall mood for several hours after awakening. Also, change the clocks in your home 10-15 minutes early. The trick is to work as if this is real-time. This simple tip will help everyone to be on time for the whirlwind of things to do that end on Sunday night only to start up again on Monday.

BACK TO SCHOOL BARGAIN HUNT (SCHOOL SUPPLIES, CLOTHING, UNIFORMS, etc.).

Do your research at home by searching the Internet. Peruse the weekly flyers, newspapers for back to school deals. Tune into back to school advertisements via radio and podcast platforms. If you shop in the morning and during the weekdays, especially the first two weeks in August, you'll avoid the crowds and rush. You'll also want to order the children's school uniforms while inventory is high and you'll have everything delivered in time.  

DO THE HEAVY LIFTING THE NIGHT BEFORE.

On the night before the first day of school, get school uniforms, clothing picked out, ironed and ready for the morning. We give our children their pre-bedtime baths/showers routinely so morning routines are basically prayers, make-up beds, release bladder, brush teeth, wash face, eat breakfast, brush teeth again, put on clothing, shoes and out the door.

GROCERY SHOP FOR SCHOOL LUNCHES AND FAMILY MEALS.

Stock up on fresh ingredients to plan meals that match your cultural backgrounds and expand your family's palate. Some staples that we buy are dark leafy greens, cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, arugula, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, etc.) and other vegetables, avocados, blueberries and other fruits, eggs, fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts), seeds, legumes/beans, oats and other wholegrain foods. These foods are packed with essential nutrients that help to maintain or improve health.

CONSIDER HEALTHY MEALTIME SHORTCUTS.

  • Safely store away leftovers from the long weekend for the four-day first week back to school. Cook a little extra and store in portion-size containers as an easy lunch or dinner option. Even though the weather is cooler after the Labor Day weekend, enjoy the sunshine and clear skies over a family picnic dinner in the backyard or park. A time to bond and catch up on what's new at school and work.
  • HelloFresh.ca delivers delicious ingredients and simple recipes straight to your doorstep each week. If my West Indian Martha Stewart mother knew I added this to the list let's just say the oxtail and goat meat would not be the only meat on the cutting board! Recently, I came across this resource. My husband is the analytical half so he will help us to see whether they can help practically, economically, etc. We will weigh in another time on whether we gave them a try and our opinion.
  • Shop online for organic foods in Canada for well-priced organic pantry staples like jarred veggies, bone broth, nut butter, and more.
  • Prep as you put away. When you get home from shopping, immediately clean, season, and package all your lean meats and poultry according to the serving per meal and store in freezer bags ready to cook once defrost. Peel and rinse carrots and store in a glass container of water to keep them snappy. Wash and drain berries, grapes, etc. and store in airtight containers in the fridge ready for when you open. Open and store away in containers chickpeas, corn, and beans in the fridge. For same or next day use, wash, dry, cut, and store lettuce tightly sealed in the package in the fridge. Other salad ingredients can be washed and stored in the fridge ready for when you desire to toss together a salad. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it gives an indication of some foods that can be prepped as you put them away.

All in all, planning ahead with some strategies in place can set your household up for a smoother transition back to school. It also lays a foundation for the rest of the school year. Your children's teachers will thank you now and your children will thank you down the road for helping them learn early how to prioritize their wellness and stress less!

Have you checked out our FREE RESOURCE page? Get the 2019 Back to School Checklist to help you and your household to be well!