School is starting all around the world, for some it has already started, and for others it is year round. Whether you have one child in school or six children in school it is important that you have a schedule and establish a routine that works for YOU. It can be as simple as a dinner schedule or as complex as a command wall in your kitchen (which I just created at my house). Whatever helps you stay sane and accomplish everything you need to get in done in your day or week or month!
Here is an example for you:
I have two children attending school this year. One in 2nd grade and one in Kindergarten (full time). I also have one child at home and am pregnant, due in January. We just recently moved to a new town and school district and we meet the kid’s teachers this week as well as start school this week. We also have the oldest child’s gymnastics open house and we have some much needed family time scheduled because it is the last few days of summer. We have purchased all of their school supplies, gotten a few new outfits, new shoes, but I did re-use their backpacks and lunch boxes, because my frugal self cannot justify buying new ones each year when there is nothing wrong with the ones they currently have. (They got over it pretty quick.) We also already attending KinderKamp with one child and learned about our bus route/pick up and drop off times which led to finding out that Mom (me) has to drop the kids at school every day unless I want to get them up at 5:30am and out the door to the bus stop at 6:40am. No thanks! So as prepared as I might feel and as accomplished as my list might look … it is far from over and it is only just beginning.
Routine is so important for kids; just like your work schedule or your weekly meetings/classes/gym times are to you. Keeping a structured routine can be difficult, but it can be done very easily with little prep-work.
What you need to keep a routine/schedule during the school year:
• Bulletin Board
• Dry-Erase Board
• Bins for each child for school paperwork
• Bins for mail
• Chore Charts
Essentially you are creating a command center, whether you you choose to put these things all in one spot or simply in the areas of your home where you will use them is totally up to you. My command center is an entire wall in our kitchen. It contains a clock, a decorative changeable word thingy, a dry erase calendar board, a push pin bulletin board, a three-bin basket for mail, bills, paperwork, a small 7-day dry erase calendar, and a small dry erase board for notes or shopping lists. We use it DAILY and I am not just saying that.
I am lucky enjoy to have an office space in our new house and I have a paper calendar with the whole year, so I keep everything there and on my phone, and then I update the big board for the family to see. Appointments are in one color, school things are in another color, gymnastics is a specific color, and so on. It works great, because if it isn’t up on the calendar we don’t attend or we know we have free time that day or weekend.
Our fridge houses three magnetic holders for pens, pencils, and dry erase markers. It also houses 2 dry erase chore charts for the older kids. Sort of their own command center, they have a reward system and they have been very good and excited about completing their chores daily. (This did take awhile with one of our kids, but he came around eventually.)
The command center or simply even a calendar can help you so much because it keeps everything organized. You aren’t searching for important things you need for the next morning like a permission slip for a field trip or lunch money you forget to put in last week. It helps you stay sane because you know where to put it and where it should be when you can’t find it.
What else can help you stay on top of things?
Sometimes the hardest part of the kids going back to school is meals and lunches, oh and the afternoon snack they need every 5 minutes. I finally broke down and gave them their own drawer in the fridge and their own cabinet in the kitchen.
Kids fridge drawer contains:
• Cheese Sticks
• Yogurt and Smoothies
• Apple Sauces
• Snap peas
Kids cabinet in the kitchen: (that they can reach because it is on the bottom)
(I have bins I bought that are on the top and bottom of the lazy-susan we have, but you can use a regular cabinet just the same and get small bins.)
• Granola Bars
• Apple sauce packets
• Fruit Strips
• Yogurt covered Raisins
• Veggie Straws
• Freeze Dried Fruits
This sounds like a crazy “oh my gosh you do what for your kids” moment … but I’ll be honest, it has been so nice to have. “Mom can I have a snack?” Yup! You know where they are, plus I know that they are healthier option than a fruit snack I know they are going to ask for. Now I am not judging you or pushing you to provide healthy options but it is a staple in our house and it took awhile to convert over to healthier options. Now that we have though, the kids don’t ask for sweets or candy! A treat for them is a popsicle and little do they know that I buy the all natural fruit popsicles. Haha!
What about Dinner for your family?
I don’t exactly meal plan in the summer months, mostly because we are running around so much that it tends to never happen. I do however try my best to meal plan during the week. Now, I have gone back and forth on meal planning and adding certain meals to our normal routine, and I have found that it really does help my sanity during the week. I am pregnant and food to me right now is so disgusting that it has truly been hard for me to make dinner for my family. I do however do better when it is planned out because nothing sounds good to me, ever. So my suggestion to you is whether you are a busy stay at home mom or a busy working mom, make the time to meal plan.
• Choose meals your family will eat.
• Create or find a recipe book of your own.
• Have a calendar or menu in your kitchen for the week.
o Have a whole week so you can switch meals up if needed.
• Shop for items needed for those meals instead of a giant cart of food you “might” cook.
• Rotate those meals every 2-3 weeks.
The hardest part about meal planning is choosing the meals and actually shopping for the ingredients. I loathe shopping, whether it is clothes or food, it’s simply just not for me. ( do love me some Target though haha, shh!) But use your resources, do free grocery pick-up at your local store! Shop on a specific day of the week, go one night when your hubby is home and he can get the kids to bed. Don’t over complicate it, because I do every time. Don’t over analyze the meals, just pick out 7 meals and buy the stuff and make them. Trust me, I give myself anxiety over meal planning and it should be the easiest part of the week.
Part of meal planning is school lunch prep for the kids. Make sure to have items (much like their fridge snacks) no hand. Something I plan on doing this year is having the kids help make their lunches the night before, I failed to do this last year. Maybe add it to their chore chart!
Hopefully these small things can help you stay sane and organized during this crazy school year. They grow up so quick and they absorb so much that it is important to teach them life lessons early but also have help so Mom isn’t doing everything. So good luck to you Momma! You got this!
Happy School year!