Whoa September, slow down!! Anyone else out there feel like summer came and went in the blink of an eye? And that September has moved equally as fast?
My kids didn’t start school until after Labor Day, but it already seems like we have been in school for months. Which means I should probably finish filling out their picture packets, school forms, and other necessary papers that hit at the beginning of the year, before Halloween rolls around.
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September Routines for Busy Moms
Having three kids in three different schools can be a little crazy. Trying to get all of them out the door on time is a bit of a circus. Leaving the house is a whirlwind of packing lunches, school drop offs, finding backpacks, and signing forms. Not to mention the energy it takes to convince my 10 year old to comb his hair, my four year old to get dressed (and go to the bathroom, and put her shoes on, AND let me style her hair, AND brush her teeth). I am exhausted by 8:30am. Shout out to my now teenager who is extremely self sufficient in waking herself up and getting ready to walk out the door at 7:05am. THANK YOU!
After school comes homework, baseball, dance, dinner, and eventually the never ending bedtime routine. All the while trying to make sure my kids have some free time, and that my husband and I get some time with them as well.
Enter routines to make my life easier. While none of these are ground breaking ideas, I find that if you have a plan in place, even a simple one, you are more likely to stick with it.
Here are a few tips that are working this fall for our family – hopefully some of these September routines for busy moms will motivate you to set up your own as well!
Hydroflask, Blue PB Kids Lunchbox, FUNtainer Thermos, Similar Striped Lunchbox, Butterfly Lunchbox
Our morning routine looks something like this:
- Breakfast (Older kids usually make their own unless they want eggs/waffles/etc. and then I cook).
- Clean up dishes – This is one of the toughest challenges we face before and after school. Dishes somehow make it next to the sink or even in the sink, but not the dishwasher. Why is that?
- Lunches and snacks prepped
- Hair combed/teeth brushed
- Beds made
With the exception of a few days a year, my kids almost always take a packed lunch from home. Now that my older two are 10 and 13, I’ve enlisted them to help with some of the planning and preparing.
I created this handy lunch checklist for them to fill out at the end of each week. On Fridays when I do my meal plan for the following week (hop on over here to read more about my meal planning, as well as download my free meal planning template) I also plan their lunches for the next week. Any items they have chosen for lunches are written down on my grocery list. This way I have everything I need when it comes time to pack those lunch boxes.
The checklist is housed in a page protector so we can easily wipe off the checkmarks and reuse the list again.
This year I’ve asked my oldest kids to assist with the packing. I will usually make their main (sandwich, noodles, etc.) but they are in charge of getting their fruits, vegetables, and snacks. I try to cut veggies ahead of time so it is one less step to do in the morning. We fill water bottles the night before.
Even my four year old helps choose what goes into her snack box for preschool. If she is up early enough she also helps me get her lunchbox and snack containers.
After School Routine
Before my kids are allowed to hang out with friends or turn on any electronic device I ask them to complete the following:
- Clean out lunch boxes and put away
- Unload and put backpacks away
Homework usually consists of reading, math, and occasionally writing. My oldest loves to read, so I let her read before bedtime because I’m 100% sure she will do it. Reading also relaxes her and helps her fall asleep.
My son, who doesn’t love reading as much, usually reads when he gets home. Save it until later and it may not happen.
I am cracking down on screen time this year. Last school year my kids loved waking up and watching a show in the morning. Which totally slowed them down and made our mornings too rushed. So this year they get zero screen time in the morning. A month into this routine and they have actually stopped complaining about this! I love that it gives me more time to talk with them in the morning since they aren’t glued to the television.
In the afternoons if they have completed their homework and chores, then they are allowed to turn on those screens for a bit.
Bedtime is still a work in progress. I did let my oldest two choose what time they start getting ready for bed, and what time they turn out their lights. My hope was that by involving them in the process, they would take more ownership in staying true to their choices.
So far this is working out well for us, with the exception of nights my son has baseball until 9pm. Those nights his nightly routine gets pushed back slightly.
As for my four year old, we need some serious help with that bedtime and all I can say is we are working on it!
Tips on Making Routines Work
- Be flexible – This is my number one tip. If something isn’t working, tweak it until it does. My youngest has had a hard time waking up in the morning (maybe because she is up until 10pm every night?). So instead of having her help me prep her snacks in the morning, I am going to have her start doing that in the evening.
- Involve Your Kids In the Planning – All kids, even the youngest ones, can make choices. Ask them for their input on their favorite healthy snacks/lunches, where in the house is the best homework spot, what their bedtime routine should look like, etc.
- Stick with it – Stay with your routine until you find something that works for your family. Don’t give up if you have a few missteps or bad days. We all have those!
- Set goals and start small – If creating a bunch of new routines seems overwhelming, start with one at a time. Writing down your routines/goals is helpful as well. Post them on a bulletin board or in a visible location. Sometimes a visual cue is a great reminder.
Final Thoughts on Routines
Internally I struggle a bit with not allowing them to have immediate down time when they walk in the door from school. I know their little brains have been on for six plus hours. And I know they are tired. However, I also want them to grow into hard working, fully capable adults. Work hard play hard should be our new motto!
Anyone read the book How to Raise an Adult? I have a hard time making it through parenting books, however this one really stuck with me. I read it shortly after having our third, and it made me realize that I needed to let go of a lot and give my kids more responsibilities. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.
I am determined to raise my tiny little humans to become adults. I could continue to make their beds, lunches, and manage their time for them. However when they leave this cozy nest, they won’t have had the opportunities to practice these life skills for themselves. Now is the time for them to start forming habits that will allow them be successful in the future.
Do you have routines in place during the school week? Would love to hear what your September routines for busy moms look like!
Great tips to help our crazy days run a b more smoothly. I love that you mention integrating the kids – they are so capable and often have ideas we would never think of to help improve our routines. When something isn’t working in our routine, J always ask my kids for suggestions. They amaze me with their insight!
And yes, having the kids help implement the routine is a great way to prevent burnout and overwhelm – you can’t do everything on your own!
Thank you Lisa! Kids do sometimes have the best ideas!
It’s like the schedule never slows down. Homework dinner sports. It’s always something.
Kids definitely keep us on our toes! I often joke that I should just keep my running shoes on all day! 😉
Wow, that lunch checklist? Brilliant!!! I still struggle when it comes to packing lunches for my middle schooler (“a turkey sandwich AGAIN, Mom?”). Using this idea!
Thanks Rachael! So happy that the checklist will be helpful for you and your family. I was getting the same comments from my kids before the list too!
I can’t believe it’s almost October! Though it still feels like summer here in SoCal. It’s crazy how quickly the year is flying by. Sounds like you have your routine down pat!
Please send some of that summer weather north to Oregon. It is getting cold here! It feels good to have a fairly regular routine with my three!
These are great tips — September is such a great time for establishing (or re-establishing) routines with Back to School, the weather changing, and the gearing up for all the insane time during the holidays. A good routine is a lifesaver!
I love summer for the lack of routines, but by September, I am feeling ready to get back into them!
I love that you have shared this! I need to get into a good routine myself. I feel like right now I’m being reactive instead of proactive.
I’m so glad that it was helpful to you Aubri! I hope you figure out a routine that works for you!
Brittany Fiero says
I love the idea of having a lunch checklist. I also like the idea of putting lists in a page protector for reuse- so smart!!!
Thank you Brittany! The checklist is working really well for us right now, and I like that I’ve found a way to reuse it and not waste paper.
I love the lunch checklist! Getting lunch ready is one of the things that throws us off the most. I’m going to have to try that one!
Lunches can be so hard! I’m sure I’ll have to evaluate our checklist mid-year and add some new lunch ideas. Good luck!
Chelsae Lund says
We have a pretty good routine but out lunch routine needs work. I am always struggling with that so I love your checklist! Thank you!
Chelsae, I think most of us struggle with those lunches. For me it is once we hit mid-school year and beyond. Which is one reason I made the list, and why I am having my kids help me this year!
Love this. You are doing great. Sounds like Alyssa takes after her mother when she reads before turning out the light!
Thank you!! Yup, raising more bookworms!