What do we need to know about time blocks for back to school? Well, if you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I teach a five-block time-blocking method. In fact I recently shared my daily routine to master the back-to-school hustle. This method holds true 365 days out of the year, and it holds true in every season.
My five-block time-blocking method is truly the heartbeat of every single woman who is caring for children. And if you’re not, it serves as the common thread for every person I’ve ever worked with—every single one, without exception. To be honest, it’s simply our human nature to flow through these five time blocks. If you’re not, you’re likely experiencing a sense of disconnection, angst, perhaps even anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, or dealing with chaos because you’re not adhering to this five-block method.
In this blog post, I’m sharing how we can actually take that five-block method and adjust it to apply it when our kids are going back to school.
Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast
Time Blocks Tip # 1 Start with Sleep
This is what I teach my students. This is what we wholeheartedly focus on in our house, and I believe everyone should start with this when their kids are going back to school.
It’s almost like a running joke; it’s back-to-school season, akin to the cold and flu season because their immune systems take a significant hit. Sleep is the number one thing, not to mention its impact on their attention span and many other aspects, right? But if you begin with prioritizing sleep, it will greatly assist you in managing the rest of your time blocks throughout the day.
“If you begin with prioritizing sleep, it will greatly assist you in managing the rest of your time blocks throughout the day.”
Setting a Consistent Bedtime as Part of Your Night Time Blocks
You’re going to start with establishing a consistent, solid bedtime for the kids and yourself. Determining this time hinges on when you need to leave the house. I’ll delve into this a bit more shortly, but it will gradually unfold as we progress through this time blocks tips post, so be sure to take notes and stick around.
You are going to start by peeling back and determining their bedtime, not just with some arbitrary ‘Oh, yeah, I think they should be in bed by 8:30,’ because that sounds great. No, it’s actually based on when they need to be at school, right? When do you need to leave the house? How long does it take for them to get ready and eat their breakfast? If you don’t know these things, sit down, write it out on a whiteboard or jot it down on a piece of paper.
Make a note of the timestamps like 15 minutes for them getting ready. Maybe you’ve got a kiddo that takes 40 minutes to actually get up out of bed. If that’s the case, it’s something you need to work on, but that’s where you’re at right now. Now, once you’ve got that figured out, you’ll know that the alarm needs to be set or the curtains need to be opened 40 minutes before they need to get out of bed, not before they need to be in the car.
Setting the Family up for Success
You need to think through all these things; it’s your job. That is what you do. I’m not saying my husband doesn’t help with these things, but it’s my responsibility, right? My role is to understand these details about our kids, systemize the information, and use it as a superpower to help my husband be the best father he can be to our children.
I am also helping my kids become the most optimal, high-performing, loving, and well-rounded versions of themselves that they can be because I’m fulfilling this part of my role, right?
I hope that resonates with you and helps you understand how crucial these little nuances and details are within your skill set and your position. It doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself, though. Let me tell you, I don’t do everything on my own. But the initial understanding, setup, and deep comprehension of these details truly are my superpower, right? That’s what I want you to feel competent in as well as you set up your time blocks for this season.
Transitioning from Summer Time Blocks
The days of staying up late with friends are long gone; summer is over. It’s time for everyone to get their booties in bed on time, lights out, and have a restful night. So, determine those times, jot them down, and stick to them.
Time Blocks Tip # 2 – Streamlining Morning Routines and School Timing
Next, you’ll want to determine the time when the kids need to be at school. When does the first bell ring, and what is 10 to 15 minutes before that? Let’s begin with that very first number: what is 10 to 15 minutes before the first bell rings? Can we all get an amen for that? I bet you know the time when the tardy bell rings like the back of your hand. But what you truly need to be aware of is the time that falls 10 to 15 minutes before the first bell rings. That should become the time you commit to memory.
For instance, if it takes you 20 minutes to drive the kids to school, or if the bus arrives at the bus stop, and you’re always rushing to get the kids on the bus, don’t let it come to that, just don’t. Because that situation can lead to you having to drive them, and it can become quite a hassle, right? So please know what that time frame is.
But really what we’re trying to get at is what time do your kids need to be at school. So as I said, these tips are going to build on each other.
Streamline Morning Tasks to Keep Your Time Blocks on Track
So, let’s peel this back a bit and consider what your kids need to do before leaving the house. If you’re unsure about all of that, take the time to list it out. Put it in a list and then condense those items into two or three key tasks, such as getting up and getting ready.
Now, what exactly does ‘getting ready’ entail? It usually takes about 20 minutes, which includes making their bed, getting dressed, brushing their hair, brushing their teeth, washing their face, and other similar tasks, right?
Setting Wake-Up Times
Understanding all these details will help you assist them better. But you need to know how much time it takes for your kids to complete these tasks. Once you have that figured out, set both your wake-up time and their wake-up time, considering these factors.
Navigating Breakfast Time
For example, if it takes you 20 minutes to drive, and the first bell rings at 8:00am, you’d want them at school by 7:50am. That means leaving your house at 7:30am. I personally find it helpful to work with reverse math because these aren’t fixed numbers.
So, if it takes them 30 minutes to eat, mainly because they talk the entire time, then breakfast becomes a bit challenging. This is like one of my children that has not been able to talk for 12 hours because they’ve been sleeping and they now have to talk 12,000 miles per minute from the second they wake up until they get dropped off at school. Eating breakfast is really hard.
Adjusting to Changing Routines
Of course, you might have a fast eater, so that might shift to 7:15am. But then, there’s another factor to consider – maybe you have a child who’s growing up and developing new interests and habits. For example, my child has started to take more time getting ready now that she’s into all things girly. It’s a transition, and we’re adapting to it; it’s a whole process. Eleven-year-olds can be quite a handful.
Linking Bedtime and Morning Routines
So, the key here is to understand the exact times your kids need to be up and make sure they’re up at those times. This also means ensuring that you’re awake. This brings us back to the importance of solid bedtime routines, which are closely connected to these morning routines. These two are so unbelievably linked.
So these two are so unbelievably linked. Give yourself that solid timeframe to be able to fit in those before school routines, and their get ready routines in the morning, that is going to be in your AM time blocks. Consider using charts or written reminders. Packing the night before, we’re going to get into some more of this later on this week. So I won’t touch on that anymore.
Time Blocks Tip #3 Creating Firm Boundaries for Your Evening Routine
Tip number three involves setting extremely firm boundaries for what you want your evenings to look like. With the kids at school, you have the opportunity to focus on your work blocks and your household tasks. Take some time to identify your home “to-dos” and work-related tasks and organize them effectively.
However, our primary focus here is on what happens when your children return home from school. Remember, we’re transitioning from summer to the school year, and this sets the foundation for wrapping up the current year and transitioning into the next.
Proactive Measures for Stress-Free School Year Success
As the school year progresses, you’ll encounter progress reports, report cards, and various other responsibilities. It may seem like it’s not that big of a deal until you find yourself faced with kids who have a ton of missing homework, and you didn’t even realize they had homework in the first place. At that point, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you’re unsure how to fix the situation. We fix it by being preventative, and that means starting now. And using these systems. Having a solid home management system in place.
I want you to enjoy the last four months of this year and the holidays that follow. I want you to feel your best, look your best, and do your best. Show up wholeheartedly as a mom, a wife, and as someone who manages their household and runs a business to make money. This is what it’s really all about – establishing firm boundaries for your evenings, from the moment your kids return home until they go to bed. It’s likely the most critical aspect, and if things aren’t going well, it’s often because of this. This is the make-or-break point. It’s where the real magic happens, not just magic, but the core of significant transformation.
So truly, I want you to sit down and ask yourself some really tough questions. These questions may seem simple, but their answers can be challenging. Not because you don’t know what you want the answers to be, but because you question whether you have the discipline to commit to them. Let’s examine what you need to consider for your evening time blocks when your kids get home from school.
Setting Limits on Eating Out
How many nights a week are you eating out? Be honest with yourself. Try to limit it to no more than two nights a week, or even just one. Personally, I’ve challenged myself not to eat out for dinner at all. Write it down, claim it, commit to it, and plan when you’ll be dining out next week.
How many nights a week are dedicated to sports, music, or other extracurricular activities? If most nights are filled with these commitments, it can be tough for both you and your kids. It can make it extremely difficult for you to connect with them, making it challenging for them to unwind and have their own home time after a long day at school. It can also disrupt healthy eating and complicate things in general.
While there may be seasons where this is necessary, especially if you have a highly competitive child, it’s essential to evaluate if it’s the right balance for your family. You know, in your heart, which kids in your house this is for. Maybe the whole family needs to make a sacrifice for a little while in one direction or the other. This is just a really great conversation to have with yourself, your spouse and with your kids.
How long are you allowing your kids to play? Consider what activities they engage in when they come home from school. Are they helping with dinner? Are they allowed to play video games? Define their playtime boundaries and when they can use devices like tablets. Sit down and work out how many hours you have in the PM time block and determine how you want to utilize time blocks in the afternoon and evening, keeping in mind the importance of maintaining a consistent bedtime. That bedtime cannot be negotiated more than one night a week.
Establish a precise after-school routine that kicks in as soon as they take off their shoes. Kids tend to bring the outdoors inside with them, so having a routine that includes washing hands, emptying backpacks, removing shoes, and starting homework is essential. Make sure your kids understand the rules and expectations for homework and other activities. Being consistent and organized in this aspect is key. If you don’t know the drill, they won’t either. You can’t expect them to know what to do if you don’t know it. And this is where it starts.
Follow the Full Back to School Series
Make sure to follow the rest of the Back to School series to set you up for success this year. Here’s what you can expect:
- 12 Ideas of tasks to automate in your week so that you can move away from time consuming ineffective to-do lists.
- Get these top 5 things organized for better mornings before school and easier transitions when the kids get home.
- How to connect with your kids when school starts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started with creating time blocks?
There are so many resources for you to tap into. The first thing you need to know is what your priorities are. You want to know what tasks you need to get into your week. Use my fundamental needs workbook to really flesh out what is important to you. Once you understand what you are trying to accomplish each week, then you need to learn how to put it all in your schedule. Download my time blocking workbook to plan out your time blocks. If you’d like to be guided through this process step-by-step then make sure you join Systemize Your Life.