Back To School
I honestly cannot believe that school starts in a week! O.k, some schools already started this week, but it's just the French immersion losers. ;)
Anyway, I just wanted to put my 2 cents out into the blogosphere about getting ready for school, and how to make the first day (and the whole year) as stress-free as possible!
O.k., first things first-if you haven't done your back to school shopping, do it today!!! Seriously, the longer you wait, the more stressful the event will be because you will be competing with other last minute families! No fun! Some schools will give you a list of things kids will need (duo tangs, binders, or headphones as some examples), and some don't. If you didn't get a list, there are 3 basic things you'll need until you get some specifics. A backpack and lunch bag (obvi), but something you may not know your child needs is indoor shoes. Non-marking soles are a must, and be sure they are velcro (for younger children) so your child's poor teacher isn't having to stop to help your child get their shoes on!
There is this thing about kids having a new first day of school outfit. I like to get my kids a new outfit, but part of it is because they've grown so much over the summer that they need a few new things. But can I say that new to you does not need to be brand new? Don't let some bizarre, social pressure make you think you need to buy new clothes for the new school year. Most people don't know what you already owned, so it's all new to them! Hit up a few second hand stores (& pop some tags...) and you're bound to find some good, gently used clothes that will be serviceable and that your kids will love. Alright, moving on!
Another thing you can/should do this week to get ready is to get your homemade foods ready. Homemade granola bars, muffins (make 'em mini as kids rarely can eat a whole regular sized muffin), or single serve soup (make a batch of soup, and divide it into separate kid-sized portions to freeze) can all be made ahead and stored in the freezer. It'll save you money, and you'll feel better knowing what's in your kids food!
So, speaking of food for lunches, this next idea may sound anal, but it works for me! In the same way as I make a weekly menu for the whole family and our dinners, I also have a menu for the kids' lunches (though it's not a changing menu as our dinner one is). Some of my friends find this idea stressful, but I enjoy it. Like I've said about other ideas on this blog, these are my thoughts and ideas, and if they help you, hooray!! If not, that's o.k. too! Anyway, the idea behind a lunch menu was to help me feel like I was giving the kids a good variety of food, and that I was keeping it simple-by making a menu.
The menu is divided into the days of the week, then each day has five sections: main (sandwich, muffin, wrap, leftover pizza or homemade pizza bun, Caleb even got a g.f. doughnut in his menu last year!), protein (cheese, yogurt, rolled lunch meat, hardboiled egg, cold chicken drumstick, etc.), fruit & veg (you can figure this one out), 'snackie' (popcorn, crackers, pretzels, etc.), and a treat (granola bar, cookie, marshmallows, etc.). I need to update my menu from last year as I have a newbie starting school this year, and also the kids have changed their tastes, and I want the menu to reflect that.
So, having this menu helps me quickly pack lunches because I've taken the stand and stare into the fridge part out of it. Even though I have a menu, I do give it some flexibility based on if there are leftovers from dinner, or if we had a birthday party and there is leftover cake that would make a fun treat in a lunch. And even though there is a menu, I let the kids help me pack the lunches so they know what they're getting.
Do whatever you want to do for making a menu or not, but my biggest advice about lunches is to to make lunches the night before!
Just do it!!! :)
The mornings of school can be a wee bit nutty, and adding a distracted parent trying to mindfully pack a healthy and tasty lunch is not a good part of that equation!
Another thing that I like to do at night after I've packed the lunches is to set the back pack (s) out. Either on the dining room chairs, or if you have an entryway with a spot for each child's coat and shoes, just put the backpack out there. It may seem a little pointless, but having it in view reminds you what may need to be added to it (a permission slip, a library book, whatever), and it also makes it visible for your child so that once you've handed them their lunch, they can put it into their bag (without calling, "where's my back pack???"). Then send 'em out the door!
Now, if you're like me, you like to get your kids first day of school photo. Again, do it however you want (or don't do it at all!), but I saw and liked the idea of writing down what grade the child was going into, and what year it was on a page for the child to hold in the photo. I used a cute little chalk board I own, but you could literally just use a marker and write on regular paper to do this. It's just a quick way to remember exactly which year the photo is from (instead of hoping the time stamp on the photo is correct, or guessing based on the outfit or what house you were living in-which is what I did for years!). If the idea of squeezing a photo in the morning of that first day back seem stressful, do it a day or two before. Seriously!
Just put the kids into the clothes they will wear, hand them the piece of paper with the grade and year on it, and take the picture! They won't change so much in the few days leading to school that the photo won't be valid, so go ahead and pre-photo the first day of school! It'll also make a funny story for them to tell when they grow up. :)
Alright, so this next thought is a whole school year kind of thought, but breakfast....keep it simple!
When I was growing up, we would get called down to breakfast, and whatever my Dad had made, we were eating! I'm from a very large family, so there was no, "what would you like for breakfast?", "what would you like for breakfast?" being heard. My Dad making breakfast for us saved a lot of time. I do the same now with my kids. I actually can't remember if I've ever asked my kids what they want for breakfast...I know, I'm so mean.
I do a rotating breakfast: cereal, toast and yogurt, cereal, toast and yogurt, cereal, pancakes for Saturday, then toast and yogurt again for Sunday-then I start all over! If you child likes oatmeal or some other quick breakfast, add that into the mix. We'll also add low-maintainance (doesn't require serious prep work like, for example, a mango!) fruits into the breakfasts if the kids say they are still hungry. We eat eggs and bacon around here regularly as a dinner, so I never worry about it as a breakfast. The key is simple, quick options that get your kids fuelled for the day-withuot causing stress and making them miss the bus!
Oh, I can hear some people now, "but how will my child learn to make decisions if I don't let them decide what they want for breakfast?". They'll figure it out, they should have other choices they need to make in a day that will be more important, so don't sweat it! I promise this will make life easier!
Alright, my last bit of advice....wake the kids up early! O.k, not too early, but give yourself more time than you think you need to get them ready and out the door.
I wake my kids up an hour before the bus is due to arrive. That's about 10 minutes for brushing hair and teeth, half an hour for getting dressed and eating breakfast, 10 minutes for getting on coats and shoes (this takes more and less time depending on which season it is), then 10 minutes of buffer time, incase something takes longer than it should have.
It honestly ruins my day when I have slept through my alarm clock and I have to rush and "Mom yell" (oh, you know that yell. You're not really yelling, you're just doing that "huuuurrrrry uuuupp!" through your teeth kind of yelling) at my kids to hurry the heck up! I want to be patient and kind to them on the way out the door, instead of momzilla! Seems reasonable enough to me!
O.k. I think that's all I have to say about that! I'm sure I have more things I would like to say, but this is probably sufficient!
I hope that if you have kids you're sending off to school that some of these tips will help you. There will likely be some speed bumps here and there, and that's o.k. Just be prepared as much as you can be, and be ready to be flexible too, as the need arises!
8/26/2014 03:47:12 am
I need to bookmark this for next year...or possibly the year after if I decide I need one more year with my little guy at home and skip JK, but that's a whole other discussion. Hope your kids have a fantastic and smooth transition back into school and you enjoy the extra time for yourself.
2/11/2022 01:14:58 am
Very much appreciated. Thank you for this excellent article. Keep posting!
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Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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