Bye-bye summer, hello fall leaves and early morning chaos.
Back to school is an impressive balance of breakfast prep, readying the kids, and homework check as we get ready for our busy workday. Last-minute reminders dropped in our lap as we get out the door. Getting to drop off and seeing the other frazzled parents reminds we’re not alone.
As a Silicon Valley software engineer, and as a mom to a pre-teen, I’ve spent the last 20 years optimizing tech to make our lives easier. I knew there had to be a better way.
So I connected the skills from my previous career at PayPal, Target & now at Ford (in its Connected Vehicles space) and the thousands of parents I talk to daily on our app S’moresUp, to create a template for a game-changing morning routine.
Here are my top 5 Back-to-School Tips:
1. DESSERT & SCHEDULING: We do a weekly ‘snack & schedule’ time when the whole family sits down around a special dessert and goes over their week. This bonding brain-drain feels like the family’s ‘master plan’ time together time. The entire week gets reviewed keeping everyone up-to-date on after school activities and homework assignments.
2. OUTFIT HACK: I love Steve Jobs’ outfit hack: Think about your outfit only once! Plan out everyone’s clothing for the entire week and lay them out in a designated area of the house. Cubbies or drawers in your kid’s closet to store each day’s outfit ready to grab and go. Hanging closet shoe organizers work great for younger kids. Knowing exactly what you’ll start the day in will simplify your week and mentally rehearsing what the day will require allows you to be ready for anything and ahead of the game. Patent leather tuxedo flats are a great day to night comfortable work shoes for the modern busy woman.
3. CREATE A COMMAND CENTER: Designate an organized corner of the house where all back-to-school materials will live: backpacks, teacher notes, assignments, etc. No more running around the house looking for lost items. Consider baskets by the door or towel racks or hooks to keep everything in one spot.
4. DIGITAL ASSISTANT: The Echo Dot Kid’s Edition helps wake your kids up, schedules teeth brushing and eating, and Alexa’s skills can also help your kids do their homework after school. Kids can pick the music they wake up to including any positive reminders they’d like to start their day. Your digital assistant gets the morning process started or adds reminders as you attend to breakfast and the other children.
5. GRAB AND GO BREAKFAST: A cooked breakfast is a nice treat once a week but the rest of the week can be made to order. Hard-boiled or deviled eggs can be left in the fridge in baggies ready to take. Muffins, bars, and fruit on the counter allow choice and ease. Green apples sliced long, form the bread holding a peanut butter granola apple sandwich. Pancake batter waiting in mini muffin tins to pop in the oven is another quick warm option. Mini egg frittatas pre-baked can be heated up and eaten in the car. Veggie apple green smoothies are a quick and great —if we can make them sweet enough to get them to take their morning “superhero potion.”
A little planning goes along way in avoiding chaos, panic, and that “I’m not doing this right” feeling we all know too well. In case you haven’t been told today: You’re doing great, your family is lucky to have you, and it really does take a village (and a lot of planning).