Back to School

In Family, Kids on August 21, 2011 at 12:01 AM

We’re back and we thank you for your patience.  We had to take some time to get organized and get the start of the school year under way.  We now have all three girls up and running on the bus and off to school.  Schedules have shifted and routines are in full effect.

From the outside looking in, it probably looks a bit exhausting to balance work with three children.  We won’t lie!  It is! But, the way we survive is trying our best to keep a consistent routine and stay as completely organized as possible.  Here are a few tricks of our trade:

Expanding File Folders
Papers.  Papers.  And, more papers!  That’s pretty much all we saw coming in before and during the first week of school.  Some are read and trash and others need to be kept.  But, where’s a good place to keep all of it and for multiple children at multiple grade levels.  We had a traditional file cabinet and that worked.  However, we’ve found that the expanding file folders are more transportable and serve the same purpose.  We have a tab for all school papers, each girl’s classroom information, forms, and the like.  All of this is held in one spot, in the desk drawer and ready to grab and go to and from the school when needed.  And, no longer do you have to walk around with the brown cardboard file folders.  Now they come in hot, trendy colors and styles that make it both easy and stylish to stay organized.

Set Clothes Out
It’s still unknown why American schools have not instituted mandatory uniforms throughout the nation.  We argue children should have “liberties” under the Constitution then complain when those liberties go awry.  Not saying problems would end with uniforms but it’s hard to tease a kid about his clothes when he’s got the same clothes on.  Nevertheless, for the past 2 years we have been spoiled with uniforms and now we have to actually figure out what to wear every day since we’ve switched schools.  Boo!  Well, 6:30 a.m. should NOT be the time for such decisions and sometimes debates on what to wear.  Setting clothes out the night before not only helps to grab and go in the morning but it also helps to remove the need to match black and blues by a night-light and half awakened eyes.  Additionally, it prevents children from going to school with surprises in their clothes where threads have tattered and holes have appeared from previous good days on the playground.  Mom and Dad, this means you too.  It may sound elementary but, honestly, setting your own clothes out the night before is just as effective for parents as it is for the kids.  From jewelry to shoes to ties and yes, the stilletos, set it out and forget about it in the morning.
We’ve even tried setting clothes out for the week and that sometimes works.  Depending on the area you live in, rapid climate changes and crazy weather may make it challenging and thus creating more work.  However, just try to find what system works for you.  Whether it’s setting clothes out for only one night or five, preparation will definitely calm your nerves and also ease mornings for your child.  For us, everything gets set out from hair bows to shoes.  In fact, with three girls, hair is done and stocking caps are placed on heads at night.  And, yes, the BEST stocking caps are just like mom and grandma had – actual stockings!  They may look funny, but they keep the hair tidy and perfect like no other scarf or hair cap can do.

Everything that can be done, should be done the night before
All bags, lunches, papers and anything else that you may need in the morning should be packed the night before.  Even if your routine involves waking up the sun, you may still want to eliminate the need to haggle with too much in the morning.  Of course, things that have to be refrigerated cannot be packed, however, they can still be prepared.  Then, make sure any bags and belongings are packed and placed either by the door or in your designated area for grab and go routines.  Our girls’ bus comes around 7:15 a.m. and the goal is for them to be downstairs by 7 a.m. to give a comfortable cushion.  Once they are out and on their way, we can take whatever time is needed getting ourselves ready.  They’re happy, we’re happy and no one is stressed out (at least about the morning).

After-School Routines
In addition to preparation before school, we try to keep consistency after school by keeping a routine.  As soon as we get home, the girls hit the “study table”.  As much as we’ve tried to avoid the dining room table as a place of study, we’ve come to realize that at this young age, they just don’t want to be at a desk alone in their room.  And, therefore, the dining room brings the family to the dinner table in a different way (and actually gives it more use).  They usually get a light snack to give them a little fuel and then homework is whittled away.  We’ve tried homework at different time periods: after playing, after dinner, after baths, etc… but those times have put us too close to bedtime and meltdown times.  So, this seems to be the best time for us.  You know your kids best and whatever time it is, just make it consistent.  If they know that every night after their bath, homework has to be complete, then there are no surprises when you ask them to do their homework right after they’ve put lotion on their legs.

Bedtime Battles
Anyone who has children has gone through the bedtime drama dance.  It can be hectic and start to make you want to go Joan Crawford/Mommy Dearest and put a strap or two on some beds.  But, for those who choose to let the wire hangers remain in the closet, we say hang in there (no pun intended)! Try as much as possible to target bedtime about 20 minutes prior to wanting them to actually be sleep.  We have noticed, however, with a 6:30 a.m. wake up call, stimulating school days and winding down with a book, our battles have pretty much ceased.  There isn’t much energy at the end of the day to think of ways to have the “slumber parties” of yesterday.  Because of their close relationship, our girls like to sleep together and we will let them as long as we don’t hear any giggles and whispers.  Again, with their new schedules, this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue anymore.

Back to school can present many great moments and challenges to a parent’s day.  From the mounds of homework to the constant activities that makes you want to paint your car “taxi cab yellow”, there’s a lot that has to be balanced.  Try to keep fit and maintain a good diet so that you can be fueled to put in the extra energy.  More importantly, establish a routine and a means of being organized.  If you’re organized and consistent, it will set the tone and the example for your children to do the same.  Whatever it is, just do what works for you and stick to it!

Back to School!  That’s What’s Up!


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