Whether you’re a busy parent with lots of activities on your plate or a teen with your own school schedule to think about, back-to-school season has definitely kicked everyone’s organizational skills into high gear once more. School nights may begin to feel hectic again—between the homework, planning for the next day, and trying to fit some rest in there somewhere.
However, you can form a regimen that gets these priorities down pat. Here are a few tips you can use to simplify your school nights so they run as smoothly as possible.
1. Establish Your Own Bedtime Routine
Having a bedtime routine can be more helpful than you think—especially when that routine includes an actual bedtime. Having a bedtime, no matter how old you are, can help you fall asleep faster and easier so you can get enough sleep each night. That means even after you tuck the kiddos in for the night, you might need your own bedtime and wind-down routine.
2. No Caffeine After School
This one might be a little tough to get used to at first, but it goes hand in hand with getting a good night’s rest. Although caffeine can be a great study aid and pick-me-up, having caffeine after 2:00 p.m. can make it more difficult to get to sleep come nightfall. It’s best to leave the coffee for the morning and stick to non-caffeinated beverages after school.
3. Make Lunches Ahead of Time
Part of simplifying your school nights is prepping for the morning so you don’t need to wake up at a ridiculous hour to be ready for the day ahead. One of the best ways to do this is to pack a lunch ahead of time so you can refrigerate it and grab it to go when the morning comes. This can also make it much easier to create nutritious, balanced dishes with protein, fruits, and vegetables.
4. Tackle Homework First Thing
Doing homework after a long day of school can sometimes feel like the biggest task in the world, but the task can feel even more looming when you leave it for the end of the night. If possible, it can be a great idea to use the momentum from the school day to tackle homework first thing so you have the rest of the night to enjoy family time. If your kiddos are still at the age where you need to help them with homework, you can encourage this even more as a habit they can take with them as they grow.
5. Pick Out the Next Day’s Clothes
Much like packing lunch the night before, picking your outfits and the kids’ outfits before bed can simplify the morning. In fact, it’s actually said to help you make more informed decisions when you choose your clothing at this time of day. This removes a step from your morning routine and helps the a.m. go more smoothly.
6. Leave the Shower for the Morning
You might be asking yourself, what can you leave out from your nighttime routine and actually let go for the morning? Well, your daily shower is definitely one of those things! Plenty of people shower in the morning, and it can even help you feel a bit more refreshed and awake. Even if you leave showering or bathtime for the kiddos at night, you can leave your showers for the morning to cut down on tasks for school nights.
7. Mimic Your Schedule on Weekends If Possible
Although the weekends are for fun and relaxation, it can never hurt to stick to a routine that works for you. Especially when it comes to things like bedtimes and evening routines, letting your kids go wild on the weekends can lead to difficult adjustments back on Monday. Try going with a relaxed but still reasonable schedule for weekends so your kids don’t get too thrown off their sleeping routines.
8. Give Yourself Some Downtime
No matter how many activities you can manage to pack into your evening routine, one of the most important things to give yourself, your kiddos, and your family is some downtime. Everyone needs rest, and if you’re looking to bring simplicity to your school nights, look no further than giving yourself a bit of downtime you all could enjoy. Bonus points if you can put the screens away and relax tech-free!
School nights don’t have to be stressful. In fact, when you get into a routine that you like and take the time to relax that you and your family deserve, you can create a great experience that lasts the whole school year and beyond.