I'm back from my summer break & getting back into the swing of things around here!
Did you have an enjoyable summer? I hope so!
School started today & there's nothing like the first day back to school in the fall to give a mom a swift kick in the "welcome back to reality"!
Things went off relatively smoothly & the kids & I even managed to take a few minutes for some photos before driving to school.
We've been doing the school thing for a five years now (my oldest is in grade 5 this year), & though things are rarely perfect, with a little planning & thinking ahead, you can make things less stressful for you & your kids in the mornings.
Here's what I've learned...
1) Think through the things you want your kids to do every morning before heading off for school. Write them down. You can make a chore chart or just a hand-written list for your kids to work from. Try using pictures for children who aren't reading yet. This list or chart is especially helpful on busy mornings.
Then, come up with consequences for not getting things done or for doddling. (In our house we have a saying, "Doddling is disobeying.") Communicate these with your children. In our house, there's little time for fooling around before school. There's stuff to be done! If they aren't doing what needs to be done, enforce the consequences you've put in place. If Billy is playing on his iPod instead of brushing his teeth, thus & so will happen. You get the idea.
Find a printable list, do a list on your computer & print it off, have one of their iPod or phone that they can see, or use a store bought chore chart. Whatever works for you.
We use a simple handwritten list posted on the fridge. The list is pretty much the same for both kids:
- Get dressed
- Make Bed
- Do Hair
- Pack Lunch (a tip about this coming up!)
- Have Breakfast
- Brush Teeth
- Pack Backpack (a tip on this one coming too - read on!)
These are the basics to get out the door. If things are going smoothly, I like to see the following get done as well:
- Dishwasher emptied & reloaded
- Laundry taken to the laundry room
- Garbages emptied
You may have more items or less. The point is to think about what the kids need to do & get them to take ownership!
2) Do some lunch prep the night before & get the kids to help. Come up with a plan. This year, I've been thinking of some ways to keep lunch interesting & not just make the same sandwich day after day.
Here's what I came up with:
Monday: Pita sandwich
Wednesday: Sandwich or put leftovers in a thermos
Friday: Tortilla wrap
We'll likely switch the days around & not have salad every Tuesday, for example, but it's 5 days of a different meal.
Also, do some chopping! Again, to stay away from boring fruit choices - "an apple again?"- chop up a cantaloupe (one average cantaloupe makes 5 - 1 cup servings). Fruit salad is another fun option. Try to make healthy food interesting & fun.
Have guidelines for the things that they MUST pack - fruit, only one treat item, etc.
Pack lunches the night before. We do as much as we can the night before & leave things like wraps & sandwiches for the morning. No one likes soggy sandwiches!
3) Have a plan for when kids forget something at home.
Our school is a 15 minute drive (in good traffic) from our house. Both ways? You do the math. I am NOT going to be driving back & forth all year, bringing the kids their forgotten homework, lunches, & gym clothes.
We have this rule set in place: Each child has 2 "free rides" per school year.
If they forget something, they decide if it's important enough to call mom to bring it. They have to weigh what's most important: Forgotten lunch = My friends will probably share with me because I share when one of my friends forgets VS. Forgotten gym clothes = I miss basketball practice & can't play in the big game this weekend. You get the picture.
It forces them to look through their things before leaving the house in the morning to make sure they have everything.
Remember, we want them to take responsibility.
4) Make your kids "earn" TV, video game, & media time.
This isn't specifically just for mornings, but it does apply here too.
During the school year, our kids must do extra school work (get ahead) to earn screen time. One page = 10 minutes. Things are a bit more lax in the summer, but right now we're talking about school. :)
There are also stipulations to this:
- You have to be caught up in all your subjects, not way behind in Math, but ahead in Science
- There is a maximum amount of screen time per day of 30 minutes.
- Screen time only takes place after school or in the evening. **Never in the morning.** (Remember that you have that list to take care of??)
5) Get backpacks & lunch bags up off the floor. Have a place for school shoes, jackets, etc.
Visual clutter really bothers me. I honestly don't feel like I can relax if things are a mess around me. That's not everyone, I understand, but having things in their place adds so much ease in the morning when a person is trying to heard kids out the door.
Even if it's a big basket by the door that the kids throw their shoes into at the end of the day, at least you (& they) know where to look in the morning. Hang jackets in the closet or on hooks & have a designated place for backpacks, homework, papers from the teacher, lunch bags, etc.
I've recently put up some sticky hooks (the kind that don't damage the wall if you want to remove them) in our linen closet. We don't have room to store the kid's lunch bags in our kitchen, so after school they empty out any garbage & hang them up there.
Just knowing where things are takes off a lot of stress not to mention making things easier getting out the door in the morning!
These are some of the things I've learned along the way.
What are some things that have helped you? I'd love to know!
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Here's to another great school year!