Tips for a Smooth September

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September is one of the toughest months of the year for our family. My kids spend the first part of the month trying to recover from a summer filled with bickering and snacks…oops, I mean swimming and crafts! We are still living on our summer schedule of, “Nope! Not going anywhere unless it’s absolutely necessary!” If our summer plans were written on a calendar, it would say things like “staying in pajamas all day” or “why brush your hair when you can just pony it?,” and “the pool counts as a shower, right?” Our September calendar is filled with open houses, dance classes, football practices, fall festivals, and more. September is really just a splash of cold water on a sunburned face!

All that aside though, it is important that we try to make September as minimally brutal as we can; our sanity is at stake! Here are some ideas that can help you transition back into your school-year routine:

If you’ve let your kids stay up super late in the evenings

…then you can enjoy a good laugh while looking at this sleep chart from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Just let that sink in, then pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage and understand that what’s recommended may not work for your family every single day, and that’s OK. This is a great goal to aim for this month, however. If you’re not quite there yet, try moving your child’s bedtime 30 minutes earlier every few days. You will find a bedtime that works for your family and allows your child to wake up feeling rested (translation: not a small bed-headed monster). The real benefit of putting your kids to sleep early is that you’ll get more “adult-only” time before YOUR bedtime. I, of course, always use this time to fold laundry, clean the kitchen, and meal prep for the following day. In my mind…while sitting on the couch…usually watching Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

If you’ve allowed a lot of screen time each day

When our pediatrician firmly recommended we limit our kids to an hour of screen time a day, she didn’t laugh when I responded, “Well, what are they supposed to do after breakfast then?” I try, I honestly try, to limit screen time, but it is much easier to do during the school year when they aren’t in my face 24/7. I don’t give them screen time because they are bored, but I do usually allow screen time when I need to get something done. Anyway, limit screen time as it works for your family. Spend some quality one-on-one time talking to your child about how they’re adjusting to their new grade/school/schedule. 

If you’ve lost any sense of organizational awareness

So. Many. Papers.

I was wholly unprepared for the monsoon of papers that my elementary-aged kids would be bringing home each day. I figured I could just put important papers on the side of the fridge like my mom used to do, but then three days into the school year, our fridge looks like it may tip over. So, we bought a plastic storage box with drawers for each of the kids to store their important papers and use it for the “keepers.” We also have a bulletin board to display art projects and larger papers. At the end of the school year, take all that stuff down and save your favorite things (for me, it’s anything with a handprint on it or anything that I think will embarrass them in their 20s). We keep a separate storage box in the kids’ closets for the “keepers,” as well as yearbooks, medals, awards, and other stuff that accumulates from year to year. That spelling test they got an 88% on, and the reminder letter that you need to pay their lunch account? The recycle bin is the best place to send those!

If you’ve stopped making reading a priority this summer

Get back to it. That’s it. Just do it. Reading is essential for kids of every age. See the chart above for how much your child should be reading. As an English teacher, I can tell on the first day of school which kids have a reading habit and which kids need to work on developing one. For elementary kids, you can read books together or have them read to you. Read to your kids as long as they will let you! If they are in middle or high school and would rather read independently, then you can model good reading behavior for them.

Hopefully you will slide into September like a runner headed for home. I always try to enjoy this transition from summer vacation into a new school year because it’s a hopeful time of new beginnings! But more accurately, September is the last month of relative calm before I have to think about Halloween costumes and holiday plans. Have a smooth September, Moms!

Tell us, what did I miss?
Is there anything you’d add to make September a little smoother?

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