Organize to Optimize: How to Tackle the New School Year

For Kevin and Michelle Barney, surviving a new school week means planning ahead.

“For us, I just prepare. Anything I can do to prepare my kids for an easier transition,” Michelle explained.

One thing is frequently going over the family calendar with their daughter Harper, 5, and son Owen, 4.

“We love the structure and knowing what’s happening each day. It helps them keep track of school and extracurricular activities like piano and baseball,” she said.

“I try to be as transparent with them as possible, let them know exactly what the day entails, let them know the physical where things are, but also so in their minds they can know mommy’s gonna pick me up and then after mommy picks me up, we’re gonna have a snack and then we’re gonna go to baseball,” Michelle added.

Pediatric psychologist Dr. Sara Rivero-Conil recommends keeping those conversations going throughout the year.

“Keep talking about how we keep ourselves organized, how we keep those expectations and do we have to change those expectations,” she said.

To keep mornings running smoothly, the Barneys let their children have a say in how they get ready, but limit their options. Red shoes or blue shoes? Ponytail or pigtails?

“Those little tricks I’ve found help ease anxiety in the morning and just make it a little bit easier for all of us,” Michelle said.

For all ages, Dr. Rivero-Conil recommends casting a vision for after school hours.

“What is screen time gonna look like? At what time do I give my phone back to mom and dad in the evening? What kind of grades are we looking for? And do I need help to maintain those grades and get tutoring,” she said.

For Michelle, they just hope the new school year energy will last until next summer.

“Just keeping that same energy and organization, that is my goal for this year,” she said.