The big yellow bus is about to pull up for the new school year, and that means big changes to the family routine and lots of new things on your to-do list. Kati Chevaux, organizational expert and editor at Cozi.com, the No. 1 online and mobile family calendar, recommends breaking down back-to-school preparation into simple daily tasks to keep it manageable. To help, she’s created a one-a-day checklist for the crucial week before school begins.
Day 1 – Refresh the calendar
The school year is chock-full of calendar events: school functions, athletic events, classroom parties, library due dates, gym days, music lessons and parent-teacher conferences. Get a calendar to record everything so you aren’t tracking down flyers, paper schedules, emails and notes from school for your day-to-day planning. Cozi makes it easy with an online calendar that the whole family can access either online or via their mobile phone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry) so families have their to-do lists at their fingertips no matter where they are. Even better, you can sync your Cozi calendar with school district event calendars and your home calendars. Cozi lets you send reminders and agendas to keep everyone on the same page.
Day 2 – Inventory the kids’ closets
You don’t have to go on a huge shopping spree, but make sure each child has enough clothes for the first few weeks of school. Go through the kids’ closets, dressers and storage bins of clothes. Then make it fun by having a “fashion show” to find out which clothes fit which kids and who needs to buy what. This saves money and time since you aren’t heading out to buy new outfits for a child who can now wear an older sibling’s jeans that are still in good condition.
Day 3 – Create a morning checklist for the kids
Ever get frustrated that you have to remind the kids of seemingly basic tasks (brush your teeth, get dressed, get your backpack together) every single morning? Thought so! Put it all on a list and hand it over to the kids to use each morning. You can stop nagging because the responsibility of completing the list becomes the child’s. Just don’t allow play time or TV time until the tasks are done. (Here’s our morning checklist on Cozi: http://www.cozi.com/live-simply/school-morning-checklist)
Day 4 – Set up the time-to-go area
This is for backpacks, homework projects, shoes, coats, lunch sacks and anything else besides the clothes on their back needed to get out the door. Have the kids ALWAYS store these items in the time-to-go area and make sure it’s all there before they go to bed. It might take some time to get everyone in the habit, but getting out the door without a last-minute scramble for the hat your son can’t leave without is well worth it.
Day 5 – Set up the homework routine
Will there be a dedicated homework area? When will homework get done – right after school, anytime before bed or in the morning before school for early birds? Letting the kids know what you expect for where, when and how homework gets done means fewer daily struggles over the task.
Day 6 – Make a list of favorite family meals
With summer’s end comes more structure to the evening schedule. One of the best things you can do to make the daily dinner decision easier is to keep a list of go-to meals that are easy to make and the whole family loves. Go a step further and plan out two weeks of family dinners so you don’t have to decide each day what’s for dinner during those busy first weeks of school. And you’ll end up with a treasure chest of ideas for the future when 5 o’clock rolls around and you haven’t a clue what to make.
Day 7 – Decide what you’ll do with schoolwork and art
Otherwise, you might end up with huge bins of papers and art projects that you couldn’t bring yourself to throw out the day they came home. Some ideas: keep one piece of art or school item for each child each week, use one container for the year and limit what you save to what fits in the container, display new art as it comes home in easy-to-use frames or with clips.
Cozi is a free Web and mobile service that simplifies busy family life. With Cozi, families have the tools to manage schedules and activities with an online calendar, track grocery lists, shopping lists and to do lists, organize household chores, and share family moments with relatives and friends—all with one solution. Families can access Cozi from any computer at home or at work, and can get their grocery list, shopping list, to do list, schedule and messages on any mobile phone. Located in Seattle, Wash., Cozi was founded by veterans of Microsoft, Expedia and Amazon with a vision for creating technology tuned to the family. Cozi has over 3 million registered family members, and is available for free at www.cozi.com.