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Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

After a summer of unstructured play time, getting back into the school routine can be rough for both kids and parents. However, with a little planning, you can cut down on the chaos and make it a smooth transition for both you and your child:

1. Get synced – Trying to track where everyone needs to be after-school can make you feel like an air-traffic controller. Two secrets for getting everyone synced up: Free calendar sharing apps and home automation technology. Calendar sharing makes it easier to share schedules and coordinate pick-ups with spouses, caregivers and friends – especially when it comes to last minute schedule changes. I also use my Cox Homelife home automation system to automatically receive a text when my girls come home from school, so if they miss the bus or don’t arrive home on time, I’ll know.

2. Make ahead meals – There’s nothing worse than walking in the door at 5 or 6 o’clock and trying to figure out what to make for dinner only to resort to take-out or pizza for the third night in a row. Trust me – the crock pot should be your new bestie during the school year. You can throw a bunch of ingredients into a freezer bag, thaw 24 hours prior to cooking, and then pop it into the crock pot before you go to work. You might even consider a new WiFi crockpot that you can control from your phone! Embracing smart home appliances will make your life easier!

3. Files and forms – Even though we’re in the digital age, kids still come home with dozens of papers and forms. A secret for success: Purchase a small file holder, get a different color file for each family member and have them put all paperwork in their file as soon as they walk in the door. Same goes for all those electronic documents that come in via email from school, sports and other extracurriculars – every family member should get their own e-folder on shared cloud storage or a shared drive.

4. Create a time management plan – While homework is supposed to be for the kids, inevitably parents get dragged in to help. All too often we find out about some craft items we need to buy the night before the project is due! A secret for preventing last-minute scrambles: Have your kids review all their assignments as soon as they come home. Determine due dates and what’s required from you that week– whether it’s reviewing a project, helping study for a test or purchasing items for a project – so you can both schedule accordingly and avoid last-minute chaos.

5. Get them involved – The mad dash in the morning to eat breakfast, pack the backpacks and locate a missing shoe will have everyone starting the day stressed out. But kids as young as six can be responsible for packing their snacks the night before. Older kids can not only pack their lunch but make breakfast in the morning. Insist that clothes be laid out, back packs packed and lunches made the night before – by your child, not by YOU! You can also make life a little easier by setting “rules” on your home automation system. With my Cox Homelife, I have the lights set to automatically turn off the second the door locks, making it one last task we need to remember before we leave the house.

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