Ask Deborah: Getting back into the school routine

Print This Post Print This Post


 Q: “Are there any tips to help get my kids back into the school routine? The morning times right now feel so rushed. I barely get everyone out of the house on time and I can’t take a whole year like this! Any advise on what to do?” Naomi, mom to Jake, 8 and Max,11.

 A: I like to call this the Back to School blues. You can blame it on those easy days of summer where most of our routines get tossed aside for a few months and we don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn each day. And as much as I love them, there is something to be said of getting back some structure in our lives, especially for kids, who need it the most growing up. Back to school is the time where we need to bring back the routines that add structure to our family life. It’s the glue that will hold the school year together and give you a peace of mind. Because it’s not fun rushing out of the house each day trying to remember what you’re sure to be forgetting. It’s also role-modeling chaos as a way of being; of having that tense, everything up-in-the-air feeling. Not the best way for your kids to start off each day! So what can you do? Think of your morning routine as a show you are putting on day after day. You need your stage to be set, your costumes decided on and all your props in place! Ready, Set, Curtain Time!



Set the Stage! Just like the set design on a stage the first step is to prepare the environment to make sure you have all your areas organized and in place. Morning time takes place in three main areas; the bedrooms, the bathrooms and the kitchen. All those “sets” need to be organized so your “action” can take place and you can do what you need to do! If you are searching for the lunchboxes each morning… it adds to the chaos! Which you are trying to avoid! “Everything has a place” is what being organized is all about! Each prop has a place on stage, if it’s moved the action is delayed!


 Set the Props! Just like placing “props” before a show, you need to plan things the night before. This is the key to having a smooth morning routine. Have all your things laid out and you’ll be able to grab them in the morning, putting an end to those frantic last minute moments. It also cuts back the amount of decisions you have to make!

 What to Wear! Just like costumes for a show, have the kids (and you!) decide what to wear the night before. Lay it out on a chair or on a hook in the closet or back of a door, so you know what to get dressed into. It eliminates indecision especially when your time is limited! (For yourself, create a “uniform” to slip into each morning; yoga pants and a tee, then get a few to mix ‘n match as part of your routine!)

 What to Eat! Just like the caterers on a set, decide on what foods to prepare and be well stocked in the pantry. Create a breakfast menu with the kids so you are well stocked with their favorites! For lunches do the same thing and create a Weekday Menu to help prepare the night before. Say, Monday it’s PB&J sandwiches, Thursdays are left overs. If heating up something up in the morning, have the amount that fits in their thermos ready in a glass container in the fridge. Fill the water containers, prepack dry goods, snacks etc.

 Curtain Time! Just like the actors are prepared before putting on a show, make sure everyone has everything they need for the day before you head out the door. Papers signed? Backpacks pre-packed? Instruments? Gym clothes washed? Project loaded in the car last night? Avoid rushing out the door and forgetting things by making a checklist of things you need. Have the kids take turns being the “Stage Manager” to remind everyone what their props are!

 What you are role-modeling is that your morning routine can be an event that is planned and prepared for. You’re sending a message that it’s important, and actually possible, to start off their day in a more relaxing way. Instead of chaotic and running around to beat the clock! Routines help give structure to kids days and role-model that being organized is all about having a place for everything and making decisions in advance. Planning and preparing for the mornings does take some time to think things through, but once you’ve got it down, the routine kicks in to make your mornings more enjoyable for everyone! Of course there will always be “those mornings” when everything doesn’t goes your way… but then, that’s just life with kids! And that’s part of being organized too, to be flexible for when life happens!

Deborah Kawashima, C.P.O. a certified professional organizer, founded her company, Creative Organizer in 2004 after working in the fashion industry as a children’s wear designer. Growing up her parents owned Montessori schools,  this natural sense of order influences her approach to organizing, Deborah specializes in working with parents and their kids, focusing on helping parents role model organizational and time management skills to their children. In addition to working with her clients, she is currently a life skills instructor at  UCLA extension Pathway, a unique program for college age students who are developmentally challenged (autism, Asperger’s Disorder etc.).

Got questions? Email her:

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.