Top 10 back to school ideas to get started right.

There is a darkness looming, a snake in the grass. It lays patiently waiting while we wander aimlessly through summer, knowing that it will have us in it’s icy grip before long. This thing, of course, is the school year routine.

It’s time to get up early, abide by a schedule and have a bed time. It’s a total bummer. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. Here is my list, in no particular order, of how to make the back to school routine something great.

10. Pick a soundtrack. All the best movies have great soundtracks and life should too. My kids like the music I grew up on and they like the new stuff that I would be too stubborn to find otherwise. This is an opportunity for me to continue to expand my musical horizons. The soundtrack to this school year for us is “Glorious” by Macklemore.

9. Fuel the body. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day so dont skimp. I like to prep scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage for a few days so the kids can always zap themselves a hardy meal if they choose. Sometimes it’s cereal or a banana but I dont let them leave the house without some brain fuel.

8. Set goals and daily intentions. None of this work makes sense without context and to build the proper context takes endless conversations. Life is something that either happens to you or something that you happen to; I believe that. I want my kids to believe that too. I want them to have a plan. The plans will change but it’s still valuable to instill an understanding of how this life is connected to their unfathomable future. I want to help my kids imagine that picture from the top down by encouraging them to set ultimate goals and then working backwards towards the daily intentions that may help them realize those goals.

7. Let them have TV and watch it too. School is exhausting. I want my kids to have the same mental breaks that I crave. There is, of course, a sweet spot but I feel like 30 minutes of mindless cartoons can go a long way towards giving them the reset they need.

6. Reward them with chores. Chores are not a punishment, they are a responsibility and responsibility is an opportunity to be valuable for the people you love. The school routine is a heavy burden. Allow your kids to shoulder some of that burden and put them to work.

5. Play outside. Being in nature is fundamental to the human experience. When in doubt, kick them out. Actually, kick yourself out too. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, a little outdoor play time goes a long way towards understanding the beauty of this life. Appreciating this beauty is sort of the whole point to everything.

4. Prioritize family dinner. Dinner time should be the crown jewel of the daily family experience. It’s a time to talk and to listen and to bond as a family. I for one am guilty of sacrificing this time for digital distractions. Turn the phones off. Cook, eat, talk and love.

3. Drill the bed time wind down like a boss. We parents will truly live or die by the schedule. Push back showers by 10 minutes and suddenly the kids are in bed an hour late. That means you sleep an hour less and the next morning is that much more difficult. Run a tight ship and stay on schedule.

2. Have a goodnight ritual. I believe, in a very serious way, that a goodnight ritual defines a family. We do two things. Firstly, my wife plays a game called “zombie mom” where she pretends to be a zombie and attacks the kids around the house with tickles. They love it. Secondly, and this is a carry over from my childhood, we say goodnight as “goodnight, sleep good, sweet dreams, see you in the morning, good night, I love you.” There is comfort in routine and there is power in words.

  1. Make the weekends count. The grind just makes the weekends that much sweeter. Life is either a thing that happens to you or something that you happen to. Happen to the weekends and make them count. They are like tiny summers that happen every single week.