Before we know it, it will be that time of year again…the back to school season!! As busy moms it is necessary for our peace and sanity to be able to maintain a level of consistency and normalcy before the school day begins and the hours after school before bedtime. As summer winds down to a close, many of us find ourselves working to build those before and after school routines back into you day. To help you get started, I am going to share with you our family’s before school and after school routines, as well as steps to create them in order to make your routines super successful.
I have perfected these systems over time and am so excited to share them with you! These were things that worked beautifully before making the shift to homeschooling and are still working now that Franki is back in school. It’s holding true through extra curricular activities and with my little one. Certainly, it will work for you too! Let’s jump right in and get started on the only before school and after school routine you need as a busy mom!
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
The Only Before School And After School Routine You Need In Your Life
When it comes to my before school and after school routines, I do have time stamps and encourage you to do this as well. I find time stamps to be important when establishing a new routine to give you start and finish times and help you better work this into your daily routine. And if you have specific things happening within these times, go ahead and put those times in too to help you stay on track.
Now, I kept pretty close to this routine while homeschooling, so it can definitely work for you no matter the season of schooling you are in.
Goal Number One – Being On Time
Looking at my biggest struggle with schooling, it was simply being on time, and if I’m honest, being on time is sometimes hard for a lot of us. And being too early to things with little ones can sometimes be a terrible idea. (There’s only so many snacks and things to entertain and they don’t last THAT long, am I right?!)
I always struggle with getting places right on time—not in the nick of time—but on time to where we pull up, clean up (because what kid isn’t wanting a snack while in the car?), make sure we have everything, and walk comfortably to where we need to go. Enough time to not feel rushed, but not so much that we’re having to wait for a really long time after we get there, especially with little ones.
Finding this balance can be the hardest thing when it comes to having a school routine, which is something I cover in my free Home + Business Workshop where I talk in depth about this typical mom’s life every single morning and what you can do to fix it. But here, we’re going to focus on just the conversation of what I’m doing in my before school routine to make sure we actually DO get to school on time where everyone’s happy and I have time to actually walk them up to the door and be there for them.
Your Before School Routine
As I stated earlier, you’re gonna need time stamps for these and you’ll be working backwards. Work back to the time where you need to be in your morning routine and what time you need to be waking up.
You need to find your major indicators in your morning routine to keep things going on time. For us, my girls need to make their beds every morning, which I typically help them do. If they come downstairs without doing this, then it typically is not going to happen. This means that my girls need to be up at 6:45 and I need to be done with anything I have going on in the morning by then to be present with them, opening windows, letting sunshine in, turning off sound machines. I’m literally doing the same things every morning and greeting my children with pure joy and happiness.
(On a side note, we’ve found that picking out their outfits the night before is also a huge step in staying on time, especially if you happen to have a kid that’s super picky with their clothes.)
Intentional Time In The Morning
I make sure that I have plenty of time to help them get dressed, do their hair, and brush their teeth before I need to be in the kitchen. Using this time to pour into my kids and teach them how to do some of these tasks properly, especially with little ones.
Once I have them settled, I head downstairs to work on breakfast with Blaine. I have it to where everyone has to be breakfast-ready and 7:20am and that’s when I have everything plated and ready on the table.
When it comes to lunches, you need to ask yourself if you’re a night before or a morning of lunch packer? Personally, I don’t like packing them the night before for a lot of reasons, but I LOVE it for one reason: it makes the morning SO smooth! But sometimes I do hot lunches for my kids, which is a game changer! (Ozark brand thermoses are my favorite for this!) So for those and other lunch items like chips, I usually do them in the morning.
My girls and I love to pack lunches together, so they know that they can not dilly-dally at all if they want to help do this. They know if they want to pack them with me that they need to be done and downstairs before it’s time for breakfast, and I’ve made sure that I’ve created our morning schedule to allow them plenty of time for this. Now, if I happen to run behind or they don’t want to help fix their lunches that day, I’ll typically make them as we’re eating breakfast, which is not ideal, but it happens.
Prioritize Your Own Needs, Too!
Now, that is not what I’m encouraging you to do as my biggest thing for you here is to have enough time to eat yourself. Prioritizing your own health is important. A lot of the time, this is a smoothie for me. I’ll have maybe 1-2 times a week where I’m putting my smoothie together as we’re running out the door, but as I said, that’s not my ideal morning because I also like to have enough time to straighten the kitchen so it’s clean and ready for the day. I don’t want to leave breakfast dishes still sitting in the kitchen for Blaine or me to have to take care of when we come back home (if I happen to be spending time out of the house that day).
There are some mornings where I haven’t been able to help my kids as much or Blaine went up to help them instead, so on those days I’ll make sure that I’m sitting at the table with them while they eat so that I have that time to pour into them and have a good connection with them in the morning. Our schedules can ebb and flow as nothing ever happens perfectly, and I’ve learned to make these decisions on the fly and you can too!
After breakfast, my kids clear their own plates and put them in the dishwasher. Then they finish getting dressed, gather their things, and go to the car.
That is what we do every single morning. What you need to do to make this successful is to do anything the night before that you can. Filling water bottles, backpacks (and training them how to do this on their own), and fixing lunches, which is what I do in my after school routine…
After School Routine
After school, my girls come home to a snack on the kitchen table and they know that that is where they go as soon as we’re home. We sit down, get Franki started on her homework, and pull out paper and crayons for Baylie to get her in the habit of knowing that this is what we do since she’s only in pre-school. After we’re done with homework, they free-play until dinner.
This typically gives me about an hour before we start on dinner, so I can play with them, catch up on work, or work on my home to-do list or a cleaning zone. Before doing any of that, I make sure their backpacks are put back together for the next day and put back where they know to go grab them in the morning, wash the lunch boxes, and get everything situated and ready for the next day.
When it’s time to start fixing dinner, the girls know that they can stop and come help if they want to. I like to give my family a decent amount of time for us to all be present at dinner. Therefore, the girls help set the table and they each have jobs and responsibilities to help get dinner on the table.
After Dinner Routine
Once dinner is over, everyone takes care of their own dishes and we all work together to clean the kitchen. Then, we transition to our nighttime routine as the girls go up to take their baths, which is the start of our nighttime routine. Their nighttime routine has been the same since forever, which is something I highly, highly encourage you to do: a bedtime routine for your kiddos!
Hint: it should start earlier than you think and it should leave enough time for you to not be militant, to not have to rush them, and give you enough time to connect with them. Your bedtime routine should feel relaxed. It should be a solid hour for you to pour into your kids as they bathe, brush teeth, prepare for bed, and for us we like to have family time where we read stories or play together and then we have one-on-one time with each of them before we leave them to put themselves to sleep.
The Importance of Routines
Having these routines has set my family up to be successful, have some flexibility, all while staying on track and on time and it has brought such joy in my family for us to navigate these routines together. For those of you that homeschool, when I was doing that with my girls I had it set up to where our schooling would stop at lunchtime, 12-4 was my work block, and the girls would go free-play or interact and do activities with others.
Having these routines has set my family up to be successful, have some flexibility, all while staying on track and on time and it has brought such joy in my family for us to navigate these routines together
Extra-curricular activities fit in when they fit in, and right now Franki’s usually happen between 4 and pm. (including driving time). If Blaine is home, then the normal schedule stays on track. If he’s not going to be home, I put together a quick dinner. Then we eat, do quick baths, and skip the play time afterwards. We’ll still do a little singing or a couple of stories. However, I tighten everything up a bit in order to fit in these extra activities. That way the flow of the routine is still the same even if it’s happening at slightly different times.
I dive into more detail with this framework inside of the Academy. If you’re on the fence about joining, feel free to pop your questions inside the Facebook Group. Our lovely community will love to connect and share their experiences with you. There’s no better time to join that now!
Thinking about implementing these routines into your schedule? Tried them and loving them? Let me know in the comments below or head over to the Facebook group and let’s chat!
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I have enough time in the mornings to get all that needs to get done, done?
First off, work backwards to determine what time you need to wake up, and from there calculate how many hours of sleep you need to determine your bedtime. By going to bed earlier, and preparing for the next morning the night before, you wake up with the right energy to be able to tackle your morning to-dos before it’s time to help everyone else get out the door! Check out my workshop on how to plan out your mornings for successful, all while balancing life as a busy, work from home mom!