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5 Tips for Streamlining Your School Night Routine

The transition back to school can be a rough one. With a fourth grader and 2 preschoolers, I speak from first-hand experience.

After a summer of late bedtimes and unhurried mornings spent in pajamas, the school year was a harsh wake up call.

Between 3 and 8pm we pack in homework, dinner, laundry, family time and baths— and that’s not including the several nights a week when my kids have activities, sports, or lessons of some kind. It can be difficult to keep everything moving on schedule and not feel rushed.

With that in mind, I’ve rounded up 5 tips to streamline your school night routine. Have one to share? Tell us in the comments!

1. Make Your Expectations Clear

Ideally your family will have eased into the school year by “practicing” the new routine for at least a few days before school starts. I always intend to do this, but life inevitably gets in the way. Short of that, it’s important to get everyone on board by making expectations clear.

Think through what your family members will need to accomplish each evening, and think about how long each task will take. With younger children you might even try a sticker reward chart for the things they do without having to be asked more than once.

2. Have Fun!

Here are some ideas for making the routine fun: think of it as something you’re all in on together. Make it a contest. Sing silly songs while they’re brushing their teeth. Play games with them during bath time. Whatever you do, get your kiddos in on the fun!

3. Use Products Your Child Will Love

You know— that favorite bubble bath or lotion, or a beloved character depicted on his toddler toothbrush. My kids love Listerine Smart Rinse (and I’m happy to buy it- Listerine Smart Rinse helps retain twice as much fluoride as ACT brand).

Incorporating things they love into the routine will make your job easier!

4. Be Consistent

I’ve found this to be especially important when it comes to homework. Here’s what works for us: my 9 year old is given one hour of free time immediately after school, and then homework time starts promptly at 4pm. This is usually the time when I’m preparing dinner, so he sits at the kitchen table so I can help, and the younger kids are given some tv time elsewhere.

The goodnight routine is another important time for consistency. Set a bedtime and stick with it!

5. Keep in Mind: No Matter the Task, It’s Always Harder to Accomplish in the Morning

This has become my personal motto. I might not feel like laying out the clothes, making the lunches, or making sure the shoes all have mates, but the morning rush is no time to be searching under sofas or discovering that you’re out of peanut butter. A little planning goes a long, long way.

I received products from Johnson & Johnson as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Kids Cavity-Free School Year Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Click here to see more of the discussion.

More by Mary Lauren:

Toddlers and Teeth: Tips for Making Brushing, Flossing and Rinsing Fun

A Toddler’s Trip to the Dentist

10 Books Encouraging Toddlers to Brush Their Teeth

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