3 Simple Habits to Streamline Back To School
Summer is coming to a close quickly around our house, which means it’s time to start inching back into a routine. The long, unstructured days of summer have certainly been fun, but I’m looking forward to earlier bedtimes, extended periods of quiet at our house and the fullness of fall activities.
This transition has got me thinking about the things I’ve done to streamline our household and create small systems that allow our family to thrive. My inspiration was a business podcast I listened to a while ago on the topic of identifying the things holding you back in business. The point was that often we don’t address the problem right in front of our face, even though doing so could create some serious forward traction.
Listening to that was a light bulb moment for me as a mom. What were my roadblocks? Those things that I could do around #thecollectedcountryhouse, for our kids or for myself that would make things run more smoothly and move us forward as a family? The clarity came quick as I identified three simple practices that have seriously made life around these parts easier.
In the spirit of back to school and back to routines, I thought I’d share those here in the hopes they help someone out there enter the fall season with a little more joy and sanity!
Shoes stay by the back door
We have a young household (boys ages 4, 3 and 1), so getting out the door on school days is big process. Heck, getting out the door any day of the week is an ordeal! I noticed a consistent issue was keeping track of where everyone’s shoes were. It seemed just as we were about to scoot out the door someone would yell, “where are my shoes?” What I now do is ask the kids to take their shows off and leave them under the mud bench at the back door. If you don’t have a mud bench, a big basket by the door can work just as well. I’m happy to report this habit has been a total timesaver during the morning rush.
Stay on top of mess
I used to wait until the end of the day to clean up the house. We would finish dinner and then Brett and I would work together to tackle this daily project. What we found is that we were missing out on a really nice hour of play before the bedtime routine, and that if we shifted our thinking we could regain that bit of quality time with the boys. So, we simply started doing the dishes as we dirtied them. If you put it in the sink, why not just finish with the job? One dish down! This tiny change worked so well that we extended the habit to laundry. Every morning I now try to tackle one load. Wash, dry, put away. Not only has staying on top of the mess improved my daily mood, it’s given us some much-needed margin at the end of the day that we treasure.
I’ll never forget the day I was in near tears over Pirate’s Booty. I was eight months pregnant, with two little ones under foot, and my mom had come over to visit. I was complaining about how the kids were constantly begging for the cheesy snack while I was working so hard to get dinner made, and how they’d ruin their dinner, and I was just so overwhelmed, and she just cooly said, “If you don’t have it here, they won’t want it!” That was the day we went on a Pirate’s Booty detox!
At the time, the pre-dinner snack requests were a bottleneck to our evening routine. Once I got rid of the Booty, I started offering the boys a tray of nutritious snacks they could reach for if they were hungry. Suddenly, if they filled themselves on those things before dinner, it wasn’t such a big deal. It’s been a total parenting win.