make the most of distance learning

This one is for all the people with kids going back to learning this fall! A little different than most years, huh? Here are our top tips for making a social distanced or virtual school year easier on your kids – and on you!

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Going back to school this year looks a little different than in years past for everyone, whether social distancing or virtually learning. Everyone has a different situation this year, and it is going to be so important to figure out what works for you and your family! 

Hey parents! It’s here-that time of the year that flies by soooo fast, and makes us wonder what happened to summer! Back to school season is upon us. As we savor the last little bit of summer weather in some areas, we’re adjusting to a new way of life. Some of us (ahem… our family) are sending our little ones off to school for the first time! Lincoln just started Kindergarten! *Keep it together* 

We’ve put together some simple tips to help you keep yourself together and still get everything done as the transition to a new schedule approaches. Tuck these tips away for a rainy day if yours aren’t to the school-age yet, or try to implement them to streamline your life as much as possible! If you already run your household as efficiently Mary Poppins, then maybe this post won’t do you any good. But… if you use summer as a time to let your kids set their own schedule or at least be a little more flexible with bedtimes/mornings, then read on!

1. Set a *Flexible* schedule for your kids

I use the term schedule very loosely, since for the most part, we don’t have those around here. We have a general flow to what we do, and it involves some regular activities and some bonus activities each day. This one is really fun, because you can give your kids the list of things that need to get done and let them add to it with things that they want to do. If you can get a solid list of all the things your kids intend to take care of each day, you can let them decide how to prioritize their time in order to get everything done. This can be really helpful for them to develop the skills needed to have efficient time management as they go through school and learn to function in a fast-paced world through their everyday activities. Kids love having a sense of decision-making ability and allowing them to optimize their lives within reasonable limits is a relevant tool for them to keep on hand as they grow and participate in things that require such time management.

2. Set (or optimize) your bedtime routine

Some great ways to structure a bedtime routine are to have your kids add on what they enjoy doing to get ready and set the timing expectations for their own agenda-within reasonable limits. This is in addition to the necessary tasks, like cleaning up their space, showering, brushing teeth, etc. For example, Bonnie has a list of the things she likes to do before bed, and if left to her own devices, those tasks would take her a loooooong time. When we set limits, such as bedtime is AT 8pm, she learns when she has to start her additional tasks in order to get everything done in time. This is a great way to give your kids some autonomy, sense of responsibility, accountability and freedom to optimize their schedules while meeting deadlines. A decent skill to develop in a fun way, we think! 

3. Wake up early and practice getting ready

Maybe this is a little extra – but over here we tend to be a little extra and it works for us. Have a test run of a morning routine prior to the first day. If your kids are going to be changing their bedtime/morning schedule significantly for school starting, this is pretty helpful so they are well rested in time for their big first day. Once the schedules are set for their home time and bedtime routines, they can implement the early to bed, early to rise schedule far easier. It also helps to get up early yourself – and actually stay up. Take it from a mom who was the queen of turning on her light at 6am, sleeping til 6:20am, then mombie walking her to the bus stop to see her off at 6:25 am, only to immediately be fast asleep while she’s on her way to school by 6:45 am. You guys – I started my “day” at 9am and those hours in between could have been used! Once I started actually staying up an extra 15 minutes, I felt MORE awake then when I slept in after she was on her way – AND I got way more done. 

4. Plan and prep your meals

You guys – this WILL change your life for the better if you’re not already planning and prepping your food. Even something as simple as knowing the different options you will have on hand to make the meals the night of is a big step. If you can manage it, prepping all of the ingredients ahead of time will be a game-changer, especially as the schedule changes. I find that having the main protein of prepped and ready to go every night makes it far easier to build the rest of the meal around it. What we have started doing is preparing all of the proteins in their spices and marinades and freezing them in containers or freezer bags. That way, even if we don’t know what we want to eat, we only need to know an hour in advance to let it thaw out to cook. Additionally, we’ve been preparing a large batch of rice or potatoes or other side dishes that are versatile. This makes it easier throughout the week to have the main meals fresh and ready in minutes. For breakfasts, preparing overnight oats are amazing! If not, just popping oatmeal in the microwave is quick and easy as well. 

5. Make a list – check it twice

If you hang around here for any of time, you will know that I love lists! As we near the time when back to school shopping needs to happen, making the list will be a helpful part of the process. While it is definitely easier sometimes to just take care of it yourself, when you involve your kids it becomes a project that they find fulfilling as well. Making a list and ensuring that everything gets picked up can be very fun for kids. It also gives them an opportunity to speak about what they want and differentiates the concept between the needs and the wants of back to school shopping. We have been having the kids pick out items off of the list at the store lately, and one really fun thing to do is throw a treat or special item in the cart for them that is not on the list. When writing the list, similar to how I recommend writing a grocery list in our blog post here, it is helpful to categorize the items on the list. This makes the trip much more efficient, especially if you hit the store when it is busy! 

6. Generate excitement – talk about it!

Your kids are likely deeply set in the mode of summer fun, and maybe thinking about going back to school is not something they’re excited about. It is your job to get them amped up so that going back to school is an exciting and fun event that they are looking forward to. Get them involved in the process of making lists and starting the preparations to get them feeling ready for it. Have discussions about the aspects of back to school that affect them directly, have them “help” you with as much of the logistics as possible and give them as much say in the process as possible. Giving them some sense of ownership in the process can be very rewarding for both your children and you!  

What are your top tips for making the back to school

transition the easiest for the whole family?

Share your tips in the comments!

Until next time…

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