This week, millions of children returned to school, to their teachers and to a whole new routine.  While it’s a big transition for the children, it’s an important time for mom and dad, too. We have a whole new schedule to get used to as well. In addition to our own work, housework and dinner making routine, there is homework, sports and extracurricular activities to juggle. That’s why it is imperative we organize ourselves early.

Stay Organized to Stay Sane

The more organized we are, the more quality time we have with our kids. And the less stress we place on ourselves. So I suggest starting a weekly calendar as soon as possible. This calendar is for listing our kid’s activities not ours. If you have to pack lunches start by planning a week’s worth of meals at a time. Remember what they want for lunch is not necessary what you want for lunch. If you don’t pack what they like it will end up in the garbage can not in them.  So sit down with your kids and discuss their likes and dislikes and set a weekly menu, such as Wednesday being peanut butter and jelly sandwich day. This way you don’t have think about what to make and they know what to expect and can look forward to it.

Next,your child has likely returned home with a stack of papers, which will include the district school calendar as well as the school calendar. Transfer the information from these sheets to your home calendar as well as onto your personal PDA. This will keep everyone aware of all activities such as parent teacher meetings, conferences and report card release days. Also list all sports, piano and birthday invitations and remember this is their social calendar. Since my children have a busier social life than I do, this calendar makes my life a lot easier because I can plan. 

Don't Forget Family Time

I know how hectic the first month of school can be. Getting into the ‘rhythm’ of things can be overwhelming.  However the first month of school is a big deal for the kids, so make sure to give them at least 20 minutes of undivided attention. Be sensitive to their feelings. This is a big transition for them, too. They are entering a new grade, with a new teacher, new friends and new daily routines that include new subjects and new challenges. Your children are feeling the same way an adult feels when starting a new job. Be sensitive to their special circumstances during this time, no matter how small or trivial they may seem to be to you.

And please make it a habit to set your cell phones aside when talking to your kids. Whoever is trying to reach you can wait for you to return their call. Your children need to feel that you are listening to THEM.

And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to schedule in time for family FUN. Yes we live in crazy time where many of us have to carve out time for fun, but it is essential. This is where memories are made; memories of apple picking and jumping into leaf piles together or of weekend afternoons spent bike riding or hiking or doing whatever it is you all enjoy together.  I know the temptation to spend the entire weekend doing chores and preparing for the coming week is sometimes insurmountable, but a few hours of family time where you all unwind together is essential.  

We really do have to enjoy them while we can. I already see how quickly mine are growing up!

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

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