Now that I’m an “older” working mom, I love to share offline and online organization hacks and efficiency grabs that have saved me through the years. These back-to-school techniques were the difference between frazzled and peaceful at our house. With the overtasked lives we lead, even the most organized of us are guilty of brain fades and frantic searches while yelling and scolding overwhelmed kids. Even if you set up only one or two of these ideas, it may be the difference between fun family mornings versus a school day launched with tears and resentment.
Unclutter study spaces by setting up customized, distraction-free workspaces in niches and corners for each kid.
Kids in my practice often complain that the kitchen table is too distracting to get homework done quickly and neatly. The psychological research agrees. Studies reveal that fractured attention leads to irritability, wasted time, and poor grades. To optimize learning, set up a quiet corner office for each child. All it takes is a willingness and clever organization ideas and fresh accessories. Check out my GKIS Connected Family Online Course for a detailed blueprint for creating award-winning makerspaces with awesome Pinterest DIY ideas. A customized works station is a compelling magnet to get your kids creating in 3-dimensional space as a complement to screen learning. Ergonomic, body-healthy setups in the place of slouching on beds and couches avoid repetitive stress injuries to the neck, back, wrists, and hands.
Avoid missed soccer practices and study deadlines by setting up a digital family calendar.
Family schedules are chaos! Streamline communication and scheduling by color-coding child activities and setting up family share on Apple’s Family Calendar, Google’s Calendar, or Microsoft’s Outlook. Each member can share calendared activities and set up automatic reminders. Shared organization at a glance!
Just as you throw out old clothes your kids have grown out of, it’s also important to declutter digital spaces.
- Schedule a fresh-start fall family meeting where everybody gathers with their mobile screen devices to trash apps and games they have grown out of.
- Revisit (or grab) your free GKIS Connected Family Screen Agreement at GetKidsInternetSafe.com. This will help you set sensible rules like a digital curfew and create screen-free zones – including bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Finally, teach cybersecurity measures from my Cybersecurity Red Flags Supplement. New this fall, you and your family members can tweak bad habits so don’t fall victim to bad actors online.
Cleanse social media profiles with an eye toward future reputation.
If your tween or teen is on social media already, you know the time-suck risks during school time. Help them sort out the necessary from the unnecessary by helping them avoid the bio-hack elements designed to capture their attention.
- Consider limiting teens to only one or two social media apps to decrease wasted time due to mindless browsing and compulsive checking.
- Insist that apps with visual notifications be on the second swipe screen on smartphones. That way they won’t get distracted by little red notifications and, instead, can batch their check-in times as research suggests is best.
- Teach them how to recognize marketing techniques so they don’t get sucked into unnecessary buys using my How to Spot Marketing Red Flag Supplement.
- And finally, delete old posted photos and unnecessary personal information from social media history. Sharing real-time with friends on a private profile is fun, but do you really want somebody lurking through your past photo-by-photo? Point out that other parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, future employers, and even college app administrators may be forming impressions based on your digital footprint. So instead of having an online resume populated by off-color jokes and sexualized photos, create a flattering stream of artistic works, philanthropic activities, sports activities, and fun friend and family time. A progressive, balanced, healthy life looks beautiful online – and may help you get a college placement or dream job instead of hinder it!
Reboot your Screen Safety Toolkit.
Each developmental stage offers unique online safety challenges. For example, little kids are best accommodated in a walled digital garden like YouTube Kids, and older kids need a little more digital space to explore and create. To parent well in the digital age, you need specially-selected free and third-party software tools to help you filter and block inappropriate content, set time-limits, monitor online activity use, remotely pause or offer rewards, and even locate and track the driving activities of your teen. If you get overwhelmed or need help figuring it all out, check out my GKIS Screen Safety Toolkit for tips, product recommendations, links to ISP and social media app safety guides, and free digital learning tools for best academic performance.
There you have it! Five quick and easy parenting hacks that will launch the school year with fun and success. Just as I recommend shoes live by the front door so you are not always searching, digital folders and organization tools will keep you dialed-in in your virtual life. Most importantly, set a peaceful intention with a six-second exhale for positivity and fun each morning before you enter the family’s living space. Parents must actively define the heart of the home. If we start the morning with a smile and warmth, our kids emotionally synch and return the joy. Soak in every chaotic and blissful moment!
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Also, if you are a local Southern Californian and need a little TLC to get started on your back-to-school screen safety/fun parenting plan, join me for a morning of pampering and friendship.