Well, we officially survived our first week of school! I'm going to be honest, and this is not bragging but simply pure disbelief and gratitude. We not only survived: we thrived. This had to have been the smoothest start to the year yet!
Let me preface by stating that I LOVE back to school time. Don't get me wrong, I love summer too. We had so much fun and the memories made were the best. However, there's nothing more satisfying to me than opening a fresh pack of crayons, markers, and paper. I know, I'm a nerd. This has been the case since I was in elementary school myself and is perhaps part of the reason why I initially pursued education as a career. I also, like many others, do so much better on a structured routine (as do my kiddos!).
When Belen became school age, I was working full time while pregnant and Brett was deployed. My realization of the incredible need to prepare, plan, and keep us organized for my personal sanity became all too real. When Kellen was old enough to go to daycare, it got crazy getting them both out the door. It never failed that morning came around and we couldn't find the mate to a shoe, or my son was crying because his sock had a bump in it, or we just couldn't GET.IT.TOGETHER.
We now have our routine down pat and some simple steps/organization put into place that doesn't always promise a perfect morning, but it sure does help! Here are some general tips that have been amazing for us.
I wake up before the kids do.
At least a half hour to an hour. Note: this is painful at first. But once I got myself into the habit, it gave me ample time to start the morning calmly and focus on myself. In this hour I normally take a shower, get dressed, throw in a load of laundry, and drink a cup of coffee or Spark. Lately I've been listening to music or a book on audible while I get ready. Sometimes I even do some yoga or roll out my back using a foam roller if my muscles feel tense. (PS: If you don't have one of these yet, snag one now!) The intent of this hour is to pour into taking care of myself first, before I start taking care of others. This one hour goes a long way.
We eat breakfast on the go.
I try to cut down on the amount of time it takes to get ready by letting everyone eat in the car. This obviously would not work for someone who doesn't allow eating in their car, but I personally care more about convenience than crumbs. Applesauce pouches, granola bars, bananas, etc are the types of food we just grab and go. I do keep a small grocery bag in the car all the time that Belen takes out at the end of every day.
I let Belen use an alarm clock.
Belen has two: one on her nightstand, and one on her watch. She's particularly difficult to wake up in the mornings for school. The intent here is to get Belen in the habit of waking up on her own, without relying on me.
We have a drop zone by the front door.
We use something similar to this. It's on wheels, and can take a beating. There are "prettier" alternatives out there, but this is so functional for us. On the top two shelves is where we dump book-bags, purses, sunglasses, and whatever else we use on the go. On the bottom shelf the kids put their school shoes only. The kids have a pair of shoes they only wear to school. When they're playing around the house they use their "play shoes". The kids are in the habit of unloading their bags and shoes as soon as they walk in the door. This eliminates the morning "I CAN'T FIND MY <insert necessary school item here>!" craziness.
I keep these items in the car:
Wipes, hand sanitizer, a comb or brush, pony tail holders, travel hairspray, sunscreen, bug spray, lightweight fold up chairs, foldable wagon, and change of clothes for the kids. We use all of these items frequently! Our kids are involved in sports and extracurriculars throughout the year and that means sometimes going straight from school to practice or a social engagement. As soon as the kids get in the car, they use the wipes and hand sanitizer to get those school germs and playground dirt off of them. The wagon has come in handy so many times for situations I would have never thought ahead of time to use. The same goes for the foldable chairs! The change of clothes are great in case we have to drive straight to something else and their school clothes have gotten destroyed from recess or art.
I recently reached out to Kate of Orchid Organizing to help me with some suggestions on keeping us on track and organized for back to school. I wanted to have as much peace as possible for entering this transition and that can only come from some planning! What I love about Orchid Organizing, is that they truly help bring peace, order, and tranquility back into your home. From those closets you keep ignoring but also drive you nuts, to pantry organization and more! They even offer remote organizing services. Kate was so amazing, she even offered to take over the blog today! Thank you Kate!
Summer is winding down and the kids are heading back to school soon. Getting the family prepared to go back to school and get in the routine of things can be overwhelming and stressful. Here are a few tips to make your morning routine easier and give your children more independent when getting ready for school every day.
Choose a low shelf or drawer or a set of cubbies (like this) in your child’s room. You want them to be able to reach it easily. Label sections with the days of the week, Monday through Friday. On Sunday nights, have a full set of clothing/uniform (top, bottom, socks, shoes, etc.) folded and put together, place each “set” on each day. Involve your little one in the process of folding their clothes and placing them in the correct section. In the mornings, your kids will be able to grab their clothes and get dressed so much quicker and easier.
Create a Zone for packing lunch for dry goods and perishable foods. For dry goods, choose a low-level shelf or drawer. Put pre-packaged snacks, lunch boxes, plastic baggies, water bottles, napkins, etc. (just for the kids) in the designated area. Have all of the items you’d need to pack a lunch + snacks. Section the drawer/shelf with dividers (like these) and/or clear bins (like these). Label each section or bin so everyone in the family knows where items are and where to put them back. For perishable items, pick a section of the refrigerator to have all the “kid snacks” like string cheese, apples, and yogurt. That way they can grab one or two for their lunchbox. Always keep these snacks in the same place. This will also help you know what you are running low on and need to buy more of next time you grocery shop.
Creating a system that’s clear, easy to see, easy to access and labeled well eliminates questions and confusion from your morning routines. You can create a similar system for yourself as well!
Make sure to pick spaces that are easy for small children to reach so that they can help themselves.This will create more independence and confidence in your children to do things for themselves.
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Want help organizing your home or office? Orchid Organizing would love to help you! Visit us at OrchidOrganizing.com.
I hope you found some of our tricks and tips helpful. Please let me know of any other ideas you have. I'm all about making life easier- thinking smarter, not harder. ;) Pictured above is my childhood best friend, and Belen's teacher! Praying this year is full of learning, fun, and growth for all of our children, teachers, and parents!