‘Twas the Night Before School

SCHOOL STARTS TOMORROW!!!  (A little too early, if you ask me.)  Slowly but surely, there is a familiar feeling creeping into the air… the dreaded last few days of summer, and the excitement/anticipation/apprehension of a new school year.

If your child is starting school this week, or the next, or the next, I bet you are starting to anticipate the schedule change.  If you are a stay-at-home-parent like me, having to get dressed and out of the house at a certain time every single day can be a complete culture shock.

I want to share our school year schedule with you and how we rehearsed our routine that will take place Monday through Friday until the end of May.  In the classroom, the first few days of school are all about introductions, routines, procedures, expectations, and goals… now that our daily routine is changing to accommodate school and homework, Mommy needs to switch hats and do as the teachers do: rehearse!

Step 1:  Make a plan and write it down.

What do you want your mornings and afternoons to look like?  Think about every single thing that needs to happen and plan it out in your head.  Write it down and display your routine for your kids to see it even if your kids cannot read yet.  (Drawing pictures next to each step will help your non-readers.)

Step 2:  Teach your plan.

Step-by-step, moment by moment, what should your child be doing to get ready so that Mommy isn’t going crazy trying to pile everyone into the car, pop tarts in hand?  Walk through getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, etc. so when the time comes, your child knows exactly what he/she is expected to do in the morning.

Step 3:  Rehearse your plan.

Practice makes perfect!  Practice bits and pieces of your day just a little bit at a time as to not overwhelm your child.

Step 4:  Remind and refresh.

Short, simple reminders go a long way.  While your routine should go pretty smoothly within the first few weeks of school, if it is not going as planned, perhaps a refresher course is in order.

Remember, in order for your routines and procedures to be effective they need to be:

  • well planned
  • well explained
  • well rehearsed
  • well enforced

And now, I will share with you… OUR MORNING ROUTINE:

  1. Choose your breakfast.
  2. Brush your teeth.
  3. Get dressed.
  4. Pack your lunch.

After they do all of these things, they may then turn on the TV until 7:30.  I have set an alarm on my phone so that we can stick to this time.


TIP #1:  GIVE OPTIONS – If your kids are like my kids, each morning I hear, “Mom?  What’s for breakfast?” and then I tell them what I have planned… so then I hear, “But I don’t want thaaaaaat.” Giving my kids options that are set out in front of them seems to eliminate whining, because on school days we do not have time for any of that nonsense.

TIP #2:  DO STEP #1 AND WRITE OUT A TO-DO LIST – If I tell my kids, “Go brush your teeth,” all I hear is, “Mooooom, I don’t want to brush my teeeeeeeth.”  For some reason, if it is written on the to-do list, the job is done.  No complaining.  No whining.  Bam.  It’s done.  Let the to-do list do the nagging for you.

We walked through and rehearsed this schedule about 6 times.  We had fun acting how how we brush our teeth and eat our breakfast and even practiced turning on the TV when we finished walking through each step (their favorite part).


  • Homework (and snack)
  • Bible Study
  • Unplugged Free Time (no electronics)
  • Chores
  • Dinner
  • Clean Up
  • Free Time (electronics allowed)
  • Bath, Teeth, Stories, Prayer and Bed – the typical end of the day stuff

Painters tape outlines the spot for the homework folder

There are so many things to do when your child gets home from school, and homework is just the big thing on that list.  What about all the little things like, “where do I put my backpack when I get home?”  If you do not explicitly tell your child where to put his/her backpack, it’s going to go in the middle of your floor.  I’m not a mind-reader, it’s just where my kid put his backpack last year until we designated a place for it. So make your plan:  where will the backpack/belt/shoes/folder go after school? Make an outline or label where exactly you want each item so your child has a good visual of where everything needs to go.  After a few weeks, you shouldn’t need the visual reminders anymore.


If we do not have a special spot for belts and shoes, every morning we go crazy running around trying to find them. Lesson learned:  designate a spot.


In our supply cabinet, we have pencils, paper, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, coloring books, activity books, chalk and accordion folders for work/art that is brought home from school.

TIP:  GET ORGANIZED – Make a special zone specifically for homework and supplies.  Changing homework spots daily can be distracting for a child.  Having to search for supplies eats up the precious homework time that is limited by your child’s short attention span.  By giving your child his/her own little work space can help get them excited about homework and it also establishes boundaries and expectations for designated homework time.

In Pre-K and Kindergarten, homework should only last 10-20 minutes.  In 1st grade, well, we’re about to cross that road this year!


Ironically, making what visually looks like an extremely busy schedule, ends up being more relaxing even for Mommy.  As soon as we have a well established routine in place, we all breathe a bit easier and enjoy our free time together – that’s right, MOMMY TEACHERS get to partake in free time as well!  We are able to pack more into our short, few after-school daylight hours than we do if we do not have a strict routine.

Kids really respond well to structure, and you know what?  I think secretly, WE respond well to it too.  We all like to have something to look forward to, times set in place, to know what is going to happen next, to be able to have enough time to fit everything in, and if it’s on the list, chances are, we’re going to get it done… that includes spending free time with your kids.  It’s written on the schedule… that means, you gotta do it 🙂

So, speaking of, I’ve created my own weekly calendar to give myself set times to work:


As you can see, I gave myself Fridays off for play dates 🙂

Well, after all of this organizing and rehearsing, I think my big boy is ready to start first grade today!  Me, on the other hand, I’m not sure if it gets any easier to fight back the tears on the first day of school… time is flying by way too quickly.


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2 Comments on ‘Twas the Night Before School

  1. Carla BeDell
    November 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm (4 years ago)

    These are some really great tips. I should have started sooner, though I don’t think it’s too late with my 13 year old. She loves order. Great post!

  2. TMT Casey
    November 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you! I do not think that anyone is too old for a great routine! Kids at any age and stage tend to THRIVE when they know what to do, when to do it, and what is expected of them. What’s great about having an older child is that she can help you make the routine! You can discuss what will work best and she can verbally tell you when she doesn’t think something is working (and can help brainstorm ways to fix it!) Good luck!


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