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Beating the Back-to-School Clock Crunch

Time-pressed families heading back to school this fall may find they really need that extra hour of morning sun offered by daylight savings time. The transition from the schedule-free days of summer to the more regimented requirements of school can create chaos in even the most orderly home.

Parents can employ planning and preparation to streamline the back-to-school transition, and help ensure everyone leaves the house on time - and in a good mood. Here are some simple tips:

Create a Family Calendar

From Dad's golf lessons to Mom's business meetings, from Sam's soccer practice to Dylan's debate team sessions, the school year is full of important moments that require parents to develop the scheduling skill of a diplomat's personal assistant. Creating a family calendar and posting it in a central place in the home can help ensure no important dates get missed - and everyone knows what everyone else is doing and when.

To make it even easier to track schedules, use different colored markers for each family member. Use a stand-out color such as red to note events that will require participation from every family member, like Grandma's 80th birthday party. Gather everyone together on Sunday night and make updating the calendar for the week ahead a group activity.

Pre-route Travel

Jill's off to college this fall and Ted is starting as a freshman at the new high school across town. Dad has new clients an hour's drive away and Mom's networking sales business is taking off. Pre-planning the routes your family will travel to school, work or events can save time and money.

Use a navigation system or the internet-based traffic service Traffic.com to avoid traffic jams, detours, construction delays and time lost to being lost. Traffic.com offers real-time information on current traffic conditions in most regions of the country. Didn't have time to hop online before you left the house? Traffic.com information can be accessed from your cell phone by calling (866) MY-TRAFC (866-698-7232).

If you have a GPS device, be sure it's up-to-date with the latest maps. Updating your device's maps at www.navigation.com helps you to identify the best route to your destination, gets you around detours, and can even help you find a gas station, ATM or convenience store, helping you manage your already busy schedule.

Create Time

Of course you can't really add hours to the day, but you can copy the daylight savings time approach. Set the clock back by performing "morning tasks"  - like organizing outfits, lunch boxes, book bags - the night before.

Also, fill the gas tank on the drive home instead of adding a stop to your morning commute. Use a coffeemaker with a timer, prepare the coffee the night before and then set to perk automatically in the morning. Each task may take just a few minutes to complete in the morning, but by bundling them together and moving them to the night before, you enjoy real-time savings during your morning routine.

With planning and preparation, you can help ensure you family stays on track - and on time - this school year. Then you can all use that extra hour of daylight for family fun.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare, Newsletter,

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