Summer is winding to a close. School is back in for area youth and it is looking to be closer to a normal school year then we have seen in the last couple of years. That is great news! It also means that extracurriculars are back too, which might have your calendar stretching in unfamiliar ways. Anyone else feeling rusty when it comes to time management for homework, mealtimes, squeezing in after-school activities, plus downtime? Do yourself a favour and create a game plan to make it easier. We are talking meal prep, allocating areas for homework, and reassessing schedules to make them work for your family. A little prep work goes a long way, so stick with us as we lay out the groundwork.
Back to School: Prepping Your Home for After School Activities
Even after the last school bell has rung for the day, there is often lingering tasks for children to tackle. Homework is a thing again. While you might have wanted to dismantle the at-home work stations which you set up for virtual learning, don’t be so quick to get rid of it all. Children might not need the dedicated space to sign into virtual classrooms for hours at a time, but they still need a spot to tackle after school homework.
With a return to in-person lessons, your family might want to consider how to build a little more together time into the day. Why not set up a homework station in the kitchen for kids to tackle tasks while you make dinner? Or add a child-sized table in the living room, so you can help while folding laundry and paying bills? A dedicated space creates security and focus, plus keeps everyone on task until the day is done.
Snack Time, Dinner-on-the-Go, & Sit-down Meals
Food. It nourishes us, but is an intrinsic part of our culture too. We need space to create it and eat it, and the kitchen typically is the center of it all. Whether it is for a quick after school snack before flying out the door to football practice, or room for the whole family to come together at the end of the day to reunite and share the toils and tribulations of the week, we love our kitchen spaces. With the many activities going on there, it can be hard to always make it work though. A little forethought and planning is the answer.
Think about the different meals you want to create—after school snacks, dinners on the go, formal meals—and make your life easier by planning how to make it all happen in your kitchen. Whether that looks like a fruit bowl on the counter for quick snacks, a cupboard dedicated to meals on the fly, or the table that does double/triple duty for homework, breakfast, and family dinners too. An organized space is the key, as is one that functions at the speed your life takes. Clear the decks to get your space running, whether that looks like newer appliances to handle the load, streamlined cupboards organized around your busy life, or a welcoming space to center you after you finally land for the day.
One of the things we learned during the abundance of time spent at home during the worst of the pandemic is that having a comfortable place to live is so important. Our homes provide safety, comfort, security, plus when designed well an opportunity for growth, reflection, and renewal. As life ramps up, we need that more than ever. Just because times have changed, doesn’t mean that everyone has fully absorbed the ramifications of it all. Many children have never experienced full-time, in-person schooling, or are so far out of practice with what that looks like that they face a learning curve to getting used to those changes.
Cue the downtime.
Create a safe time and space for everyone to unwind. Whether that looks like a comfortable corner of the living room to read a book, an area of your children’s bedrooms for free play, or a spare room that functions for game nights, puzzles, or arts and crafts, it is worth creating the space to maximize its potential. Don’t forget family movie nights or indulgent Netflix binges snuggled into the couch in the family room too! When we create space for togetherness, we build stronger family bonds for a lifetime. And recognizing that we all need time to unwind for our mental health is key to healthy relationships.
How To Create Space
You know what you want to do in your space. You need room for sleep, eating, homework, relaxing, and fun. The trick is how to get it. This requires a little organization, a game plan, and the time to accomplish everything you envision.
- PLAN: decide where all your activities should happen. Make a list and include how you are going to accomplish it.
- GROUNDWORK: clean out any unnecessary items from the designated areas to prepare for intended activities. A clean slate helps pave the way to success.
- ENHANCE: add in materials to help accomplish the desired experiences. Don’t forget motivational, soothing, inspiring, or helpful items, and consider moving items that may not help meet your goals (ie. a TV in front of the homework desk might not be the best placement)
- REVIEW: best laid plans are only as good as what practical experience teaches us. If a space doesn’t work for one reason or another, consider making changes as you go to improve the area. Remember that we are all a work in progress. Celebrate your wins, review where areas fall short, and rebuild as necessary.
As you create the perfect space in your home to make the return to school life work for your family, remember that Load of Rubbish can help. Call us to pick up the old couch or chair that is in the way of your homework station. We can collect your old appliances, when they get replaced with more efficient ones to make your mealtimes run smoother. And when that big screen TV shows up to make family movie night pop, we are happy to take your old television away and even make sure it gets recycled too! Call us to book a pickup today. And good luck with all your back to school activities!