Direction, not intention, determines your destination.” -Andy Stanley

“Back to school” season is here, and we all have visions and intentions of easing seamlessly into the fall season. To make those dreams a reality, however, you will need to pause, reflect, and then take steps to simplify your family’s transition.

You can start by imagining your home this fall. School has started, and your family is back into a routine:  

What do you want your mornings to feel like?  

What will give each member of your family the greatest chance of walking peacefully into their day?

How do you want your family to feel at the end of their day?

James 1:5 (CEB) says, “But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.”

1. A Successful Transition Begins in Prayer. No matter what season you are in, the Lord has strategies for families to ease through any transition.  He knows the heart of each family member. He knows their strengths, challenges, and fears, and he knows the future!  Begin preparations for a transition by seeking the Lord for wisdom, and your plans are sure to succeed.

2. Ask Your Family Members What They Need. No matter how young we are, few things say “I love you” more than knowing someone is listening to you. Change and transition will feel less forced if everyone identifies one or two things they need to feel confident as schedules change.

3. Clear Clutter to Help Your Family Focus. Simply put, clutter creates chaos. Chaos creates anxiety and stress, resulting in people acting out of character. Research has proven the less distractions an environment is, the more children and adults are able to absorb new information. Creating a calm living environment creates a better learning environment.

Clear clutter in common areas first.

Want to go to the next level? Help each family member reimagine their room/space so they could organize and do a quick 15-minute cleanup. Go through everything. Decide what can be donated, thrown out, stored, or kept in their room. (Be specific. Does each item need to be kept in this room? If it’s clothing, does it fit? If it’s paperwork, can it be scanned?) Find a place for everything to be kept and label items.

4. Create a Command Center. Each family member enters your house with items that need to be seen, stored, signed, studied, and sent back out with them the next day or soon thereafter.  Create a landing station or command center for these important items:

  • Master Calendar
  • Backpacks, homework, paperwork, permission slips, uniforms, shoes, lunchboxes, etc.
  • Key’s, purses, wallets
  • Mail (Action items, cards/letters, newspapers/coupons.)
  • Charging station for technology

5. Create Nighttime Routines. A great morning begins with preparing the night before! Here are some suggestions:

  • Studies prove that students need at least 8-10 hours of sleep a night, so if the alarm is going off at 6 a.m., adjust bedtime accordingly. Begin waking your family earlier and sending your kids to bed earlier a week or more before school starts.
  • Have a pre-bedtime visual checklist:
    • Turn off technology and put on peaceful music.
    • Place backpacks by the door with all papers signed and homework done.
    • Pick up toys from bedroom floor and put in toy box.
    • Hang up clothes or put in bins/drawers.
    • Set out the next day’s clothes in plain sight.
    • Bathe and brush teeth.
    • Read books, have quiet time, or pray together.

6. Create Morning Routines. Based on what you and your family need/value for having a successful day, start developing routines at least one week before starting school or any other big transition. Your routine might look like:

  • Parents up 30 minutes before children making breakfast/lunches/snacks and putting them by backpacks.
  • No technology in the morning, unless music is preferred.
  • Children dressing themselves, brushing teeth/hair to get ready.
  • Making beds.
  • Breakfast together, talking about daily schedule.
  • Parents speaking affirmations over children/praying for them.

7. Check in and Adjust Accordingly. Sunday nights are a great time to touch base with the family, get ready for the week, and see what needs to be adjusted in your routines/schedules.

Change, no matter how expected, is always a challenge, and we all need a lot of grace as we work through it. Everyone is a “beginner” when it comes to following a new routine. However, you can go from imagining it to seeing it happen by choosing what works for your family and taking steps in that direction!

Do you have other tips to help with transitions? We’d love to have you share them!