Tips for adjusting to busy family schedules

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(ARA) - The kids are back in school, fall activities are starting up again and the house is empty at different times of the day, making it difficult to keep up with hectic schedules – including yours. Yet there are easy things you can to do adjust to changing family routines, while ensuring your home remains comfortable and safe, no matter what time the kids come and go.

Here are some tips to help you adjust to busy family schedules this fall:

* Create a control center for your family. This can be as simple as purchasing a chalkboard or erasable whiteboard and hanging it in the kitchen. Use color-coded chalk or markers, one each for different members of the family, to record who needs to be where, at what time, and who is responsible for getting them there.

* Control heating and cooling remotely. Because fall temperatures can fluctuate suddenly, make sure your home is a comfortable temperature when children arrive back home, even if you’re not there, by installing a thermostat that can be controlled remotely. For example, American Standard’s AccuLink(TM) Platinum ZV lets you control home heating and cooling from anywhere using most Web-enabled smartphones. You can program temperatures to match family schedules over seven different days of the week, with up to four different settings per day, for personalized comfort. The system also displays live weather information, so you know what to expect outdoors. For more information, visit

* Keep track of home activities from anywhere. Take technology a step further and monitor multiple home functions, including home safety, from anywhere using a home automation system such as Nexia(TM) Home Intelligence. You can use it to adjust an AccuLink thermostat, but also to turn lights on and off; monitor who’s entering and leaving the house via cameras, window/door sensors and motion sensors; and even lock and unlock doors equipped with Schlage(R) locks, eliminating worries about forgetting or losing a key. The system can also send you text alerts when situations around the home need attention. Information is available at

* Keep high-energy snacks at the ready. Everyone in the family needs energy as routines change. Keep plenty of nutritious snacks on hand to take to the next activity. Make up individual bags of high-protein trail mix and keep them on the counter, ready to grab. Put out colorful, portable fruits such as apples and bananas. For hydration, keep refreshing ice-cold water in portable containers in the fridge at all times. And for the inevitable open-the-refrigerator moment upon children’s return home, have snacks waiting for them such as string cheese, fun-flavored yogurt, or sliced veggies and dip.

* Get enough sleep. Another thing you can try to control is the amount of rest your family gets each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, even as school, sports and extracurricular activities compete for their time. Make sure your children have a set bedtime, and keep TVs and computers out of the bedroom. Give yourself a regular bedtime, too.

* Schedule family time. As you adjust to the fall schedule, be sure to schedule family time as well. Identify dates and write them down on your kitchen calendar, program them into everyone’s smartphone or simply agree upon a time each week to spend time together and share a favorite meal or activity, such as a movie or game night. This will help all of you stay grounded and better able to cope with the changes in daily routine.