Everywhere around Australia these last few weeks, families have been facing the ‘back to school’ tsunami of emails, freshly labeled books, new routines, alarm clocks, meeting new teachers and for many, a completely new school. Organisational expert and mum-of-a-former-tween Brigitte Johnson shares her tips for keeping your head above the water. Waking up the collective family brain after long lazy summer days and snapping everyone back into the routine of school and work life can feel like a tidal wave, regardless of how long we saw it coming – and it’s only made worse when you’ve got a Little Miss whose navigating her first few weeks of high school. These simple strategies will get you and your kids back in the groove and surfing these first few weeks of the new school year with ease:
Get excited One of the many great things about a new school year is the opportunity to literally turn over a new leaf. Nothing beats getting completely energised for the BTS journey than getting your head in the right space. Now that those first few days of anxiety have dissipated for your tween (will I have that scary maths teacher? Who’s in my class? How long can I actually survive without my phone?) she can get excited about the year ahead. Help them think of all the amazing things that are going to happen and write them down – written goals are absolutely the best recipe for success. Put them where you can see them on a daily basis, and switch on your winning mindset. Recognise that there will be a lot of new information and belongings to organise and keep track of. Things might feel clunky for the first few weeks, so go easy on yourself if things aren’t as smooth as their shiny new school shoes. Remind your daughter to let go of perfection and go for momentum. You’re allowed to make mistakes!! Just keep going. What’s in your lunchbox? No matter what surprises the science teacher may spring on your daughter, a well-packed lunchbox will put a smile on her dial at first and second break. The best lunch boxes are always easiest when made the night before, so just before you sit down to relax after dinner clean-up, get the kids to help you make a ‘Smartbox’ – a lunchbox full of ‘smart snacks’. The best way to keep their (and your) energy levels high during the school day is to have plenty of these really yummy smart snacks in the lunchbox, and there’s a whole world of easy lunch box ideas out there that are designed to boost brain power and energy levels. One awesome new book called Smart Snacks actually explains what each snack does for your brain! Check it out: Smart Snacks Visual cues When you’re trying to create new behaviours, it helps to have ‘visual cues’ – signs around your home that remind you what needs to happen next. There’s so much to remember during the first few weeks of a new timetable and often a completely new routine, so a white board in a high traffic area at home is a great way for the family to check what’s on for the week ahead. Help each child (depending on their ages) put together a timetable with the school day activities plus the extra curricular activities and any family commitments. Get them to print it off, even if it’s still in ‘draft form’ as info keeps on coming in over these first few weeks. Stick it up where they’ll be able to see it every night and first thing in the morning. Discuss goals for the term and put them somewhere visible, like on the fridge, and have inspiring messages around the house. One famous cardiologist I know attributes his success to a quote his mother used to have on the wall at his eye level which said, ‘If it is to be, it’s up to me’. What inspirational quotes would you love your children to remember? Another way to use visual cues is to colour-code books for each subject – this makes it so easy to grab what is needed that day and that evening. Honestly, label absolutely everything.
The secret of an easy morning is the night before In our home we have a ‘Launch Pad’, where each child has a locker with everything they need for school. All the gear is laid out there the night before – uniforms, bags, homework, notices, sporting equipment and a copy of their timetable. The mornings are a lot smoother when there’s a launch pad, as it saves running backwards and forwards to bedrooms for forgotten items. It’s not perfect, but it has made a big difference to our days. Remember to M.I.L.K. it each morning = Meals, Information, Laundry and Kitchen. Meals = have a healthy breakfast, pack the lunchboxes (kids of all ages can help with this), decide what you’re having for dinner that night and if necessary, pull it out of the freezer. I = information. Do you have any special instructions for the kids? Does everyone know how they’re getting home, what activities they have on and have you all checked your calendars? L = laundry – hanging out wet clothes, putting away dry clothes. Put a load on. That way you get home and things have progressed while you’ve been away. K = kitchen – get everyone to do one job in the kitchen so that it’s tidy before you all leave. This is a massive help when you get home at the end of a long day.
About Brigitte Johnson… Brigitte is the founder of Momentum First, a coaching and consulting business for people seeking strategies for life, business and home. Her best-selling books ‘Did You Remember the Milk?’ and ‘Paper Flow’, and her Momentum Platinum program have helped thousands of people reach success on their terms while maintaining a thriving family life. www.momentumfirst.com.au