You and the kids have made it–you’re halfway through the school year! Making it to that milestone is a big deal, but it’s tough to keep the momentum and excitement going until the end of the year. Your lunches have gone from heart-shaped sandwiches and fruit on toothpicks to frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bags of chips. Those children who were lovingly opening their new binders to share the work they did, can’t find a thing in their disorganized backpacks.
If so, it’s time to shape things up and help everyone learn what organization and stamina can offer. Here are a few key tips to help the whole family get back on track and stay motivated about the rest of the year.
Plan For Seasonal Clothing
Kids seem to grow overnight and constantly need outfit refreshes, don’t they? This is a perfect time to go through their clothing and pack up items that don’t work for the season or don’t fit anymore.
Am I the only person who always forgets to buy snow pants and boots until it’s already freezing?! Get ahead of what you need by marking down what you already have and thinking about what you needed at this time last year.
Pro tip: Keep a hamper in the laundry room for donations. When it gets full, drop off the clothes to a consignment shop or thrift store.
Together with your child, take every single thing out of their backpack. Sort through the papers and put back any that are still needed. After making sure all items have your child’s name on them, set the binders and books to the side. Wash the backpack and hang it to dry. You won’t believe how much newer it will look! Then, reload it with books, binders, and new, sharpened pencils. Creating outer order can boost your child’s (and your!) inner calm.
Pro tip: Instead of throwing out other papers, put them some place until the end of the year…if it turns out a paper is necessary, you’ll still have it!
Post A Family Calendar
One universal calendar for the whole family is a great modeling tool for staying organized.
- Find a wall calendar (or make your calendar plus “to-do” lists) that brings you joy.
- Hang it in a well-traveled place, like your kitchen. Choose one color for every person in your house.
- Write down vacations, early dismissals, dentist appointments, and anything else you already know.
- Share the new calendar with your family and let them know they can add things on their own.
Pro tip: Add some countdowns to birthdays, summer vacation, or anything special coming up.
Make Weekly Visits To The Library
Kids’ reading skills and tastes change significantly in the first few months of school. This is a good time to check in with them to see what they are reading in school now and what they’d like to be reading. Making a weekly visit to the library for a reading taste test supports reading for enjoyment and academics. Talk to local librarians about what’s popular now. Let them know why you’re there. Offering recommendations is what they do best. Let your kids bring home 10-20 books to try out at home. Best part: it’s free!
Pro tip: When your child shows an interest in a particular author or book, call the library to get the books ASAP. The faster your child gets the book, the more likely it will be read.
Stick To A Routine
Your schedule may change throughout the year. Kids do different activities each season or sign up for new classes after school. We know that children who have predictable schedules do better, so find ways to stick to your schedule whenever possible. For example, if you plan to be on the road at dinnertime, pack something easy to transport so their blood sugar is regular. This can help avoid behavior problems. Try to adhere to regular meals and bedtimes. If your child is behaving poorly, remind yourself to stop and reassess how to right the ship.
Pro tip: H.A.L.T. is a great acronym to remember. Ask yourself if your challenging child is hungry, angry, lonely, or tired and solve that need before getting mad at the behavior.
It’s important to keep your goals in perspective: Your child may not be a star student or a top athlete, but growth and consistency are always possible. Make sure to focus on the effort they put in and the commitment they show instead of the outcome. If you expect perfection, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Choose happiness over perfection to stay strong all year long!
Kimberley Moran is the mom of two children and the step-mom to two young adults. She is a senior digital editor at WeAreTeachers.com where she helps teachers improve the lives of kids everywhere. She was a teacher for 15 years, working to make sure children were both seen and heard. She wrote the book, Hacking Parenthood: Ten Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting, to help all parents simplify their lives and love raising children. She lives in Maine with her family.