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smart home routines

How a Smart Home Can Help With Your Back-to-School Routine

By Laura BourlandRise Writer
Sep 21, 2019

Sending the kids back to school comes with all sorts of new schedules and things to remember. While the first few days back can be a struggle for any parent, it’s all about establishing a routine.

Thankfully, this school year comes with the benefits of all those new smart home devices and smart home speakers you added over summer vacation. It takes just a little forethought to put them to work to manage the chaos for you!

Automate Everything: Lighting, Temperature, Security, & More!

Life is busy enough without worrying about whether you turned the lights off as you raced out of the house or if you really did lock the front door before putting the kids to bed.

Every smart device you buy comes with options to automate the powering on and off and even set schedules, so you never have to fret over these nagging questions again. Even better, automating your smart home devices will help you reduce your energy consumption and save money on your monthly utility bills!


Any old light fixture can be made smart by merely replacing your regular light bulbs with smart light bulbs. Just screw the smarter version in, and you’ll have the power to program each light by itself or groups of lights to turn on and off at specific times. Many smart light bulbs can also be set to change colors and intensities so you can begin your mornings with softer light, encourage focus during homework time with energizing green light, or help your kids get to sleep more quickly with muted purple lighting.

smart security video doorbell
Photo Credit: SkyBell


Smart door locks, cameras, and doorbells are easy additions to any home that will not only help you feel safer, but also help busy parents keep track of kids coming and going. For younger kids, you might automate your doors to unlock at the same time their babysitter arrives for after school care to avoid keeping track of keys. Have independent high school-aged kids? Cameras and doorbells will empower you to see when they get home from school, who’s with them and check in if they’re running a little later than usual.

Climate Control

Smart thermostat rebates are hot right now. If you’ve recently installed yours, be sure to automate your home heating and cooling. Turn it off when you all leave for the day to save energy and money on your utility bill. Many smart thermostats also allow zoning automation to individually heat or cool specific rooms or groups of rooms based on your unique schedule.

Create Routines with Google Home or Amazon Alexa 

Smart speakers like the Google Home Mini and the Amazon Echo Show make it possible to create customized routines, combining several actions with a single command.

smart home morning routine
Photo Credit: Google

For example, you might establish a morning routine for school days to ensure things always run smoothly. Any smart speaker can be set to report the day’s weather forecast, provide travel time (with traffic) to school and read your calendar to you with a simple phrase like, “Good Morning.” Depending on what other smart home devices you have connected to your smart speaker, your “Good Morning” can also include turning on the downstairs lights, bumping up the heat, and brewing your morning coffee before you even find your slippers.

alexa morning routine
Alexa Morning Routine. Photo Credit: Amazon

Create as many routines as you need to simplify your days. Many parents find a “Let’s go kids” routine to be incredibly helpful in verbally reminding kids to put their homework and lunch bag in their backpack, grab a jacket and wish them luck on the day’s spelling test as the doors lock behind them. Afternoon routines can remind you about Back to School Night and soccer practice while you get the kids started on homework. And evening routines can turn the downstairs heat off, lock the doors, switch to softer lighting, and even read your kids a bedtime story using either Amazon Storytime or Google Bedtime Story

Use Skills and Shortcuts to Truly Simplify Life

There are millions of downloads that can be added to your smart speaker to make your life so much easier. Taking the time to go through the list of options now can save you hours upon hours this school year, keep your home in order and help your kids stay on track for success.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started.

bye bye cavities
Alexa Skill Bye Bye Cavities. Photo Credit: Amazon

Establish Good Dental Hygiene

It can be hard enough to get our kids to brush their teeth before bed, much less brush for the entire recommended two minutes. Use your Google Assistant to automatically set a timer for two minutes with the command “Toothbrush time.” Have an Alexa? Download the Chompers skill that will entertain your kids with jokes and fun facts for the two minutes. Another option: Bye Bye Cavities, a game that guides kids to switch sides and collect a prize at the end of brushing.

Remotely Start Appliances

Smart appliances like dishwashersclothes dryers, and washing machines can be started remotely, even when you’re not in the house. Just load them up the night before and set them to start while you’re at work to come home to clean clothes and dishes.

Call the Family to Dinner

Stop straining your voice and chasing down every family member for dinnertime. The Google Assistant’s Broadcast feature and Alexa Announcements will call everyone to the dinner table for you.

How To Use Google Assistant Broadcast Feature

To use Google's Assistant broadcast feature, say "OK Google, broadcast 'it's time for dinner'" into any Google Assistant to any device equipped with Google Assistant. You can even make announcements from Google Assistant on your Android device or Apple iOS device with Google's Assistant app. You can replace the phrase 'it's time for dinner' with any message you want to broadcast. Common Google Assistant devices include the Google Home Mini, Google Home, Google Nest Hub, and Google Next Hub Max.

How To Use Alexa Announcement Feature

Alexa announcements work on all Amazon Echo products and functions similarly to Google's Assistant broadcast feature. To use the Alexa announcement feature, say, "Alexa, announce that 'it's time for dinner'.” You can even announce while away from home via the Alexa App available on Android and iOS devices.

amazon echo homework
Photo Credit: Amazon Echo

Enlist Your Smart Speaker to Help with Homework

Even the most involved parent doesn’t have time to sit down with each kid to complete homework every night. Smart speakers can fill in, answering simple questions, and providing instant help whenever your kids need it. They can provide valuable help in recalling algebraic equations, getting definitions and help with spelling while writing a school paper, and even remind your kids when “I” comes before “E.”

Smart speakers can also be used to set study timers and play classical music to keep kids focused during homework time. They can also remind students about upcoming tests and initiate quizzes to test their readiness. Ask your children’s teachers which smart speaker tools they use in the classroom to provide a more cohesive educational experience for your kids at home.

Get Help Keeping Kids Occupied and Entertained

Do you have chatty kiddos who seem to need endless entertainment and attention when all you need is a moment of quiet to get dinner cooking? Smart assistants can fill those gaps of time with fun games and activities.

  • Math Games. Ask your Alexa to play the 123 Math game to test your kids in arithmetic or have Google play Mental Math that also includes division and multiplication challenges.
  • Geography Games. Challenge your kids’ geography knowledge with games like Google’s County Capitals and National Geographic Bee.
  • Guessing Games. Alexa’s Animal Game will provide your kids clues until they guess the animal that Alexa is thinking.
  • Science Experiments. Turn on Amazon’s Busy Hands to walk your kids through simple science projects to keep them occupied.
  • Active Games. If your kids need to let some extra energy out, start Alexa’s Silly Things game that makes kids act out an action to get all those wiggles and giggles out.
  • Language Learning. Why not use that extra time to teach your kids a new language? SayHi Language Learning by Alexa is just the app!

Start the School Year Off Right with Smart Routines

Go back to school this year with sanity, strength, and smart routines. You can easily set schedules to automatically control your home lighting, security, climate, appliances, and more to free your mind and hands.

You might create grouped actions that automatically remind your kids about homework, upcoming tests, and to brush their teeth with a single command. Or you might even use your smart speakers to keep your kids busy while you tackle chores, catch up with friends over the phone or dare we say, take a relaxing bath! The opportunities are endless with smart technology.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-09-21T15:02:45+0000
Laura Bourland

Article by:

Laura Bourland

Laura grew up in the California suburbs, far removed from environmentalism, but nature always has a way. She uprooted her life in 2015, moving to the countryside of Washington to live a more sustainable and simple life on 12 acres. She and her fiancee are learning on the job as they attempt everything from gardening and natural pest control to eco-friendly building and home improvement.

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