Hello and Happy Fall! For all the parents who have school aged children it’s a start of another year which means adjusting our daily schedules to get our children dressed, fed, packed up and dropped off at school on time while keeping our cool. We have to figure out a new schedule and settle into a new routine, so every bit of time-saving advice can be a huge help.
It all starts with getting enough sleep. Children need at least 10 hours a night to feel energized the following day. My kids (ages 9, 6 and 3) wake up at 7 a.m. so they’re in bed no later than 8:30 p.m. This has been our routine since they were babies and we enforce this even more during the school year. When children are well rested they do better in school, it’s a fact.
Making sure everyone is dressed in the morning gets easier as children get older and become more self-sufficient. Our 9 year old wakes up and gets ready for the day on his own, the girls who are 6 and 3 years old on the other hand require more attention as they are more selective about what they want to wear and if it was up to our 3 year old she would wear her ballet tutu every day! We pick out their outfits in the evening so there’s no headache in the morning and makes it easier for them too. I recently saw several articles featuring a weekly clothes organizer, I may have to try it. Both of my girls have long hair and one even has super curly hair (high maintenance), so we have to build in time for hair which we typically do during breakfast time.
For breakfast we rotate between cereal, fruit, yogurt and even pancakes. One of the “mom hacks” I came up with last year is to make a big batch of pancakes on a Sunday, then freezing individual pancakes in zip lock bags. It takes 60 seconds to warm up a frozen pancake in the toaster. My kids asked for pancakes one morning before school and I told them I’d buy some that we can quickly warm up since we usually don’t have time to be making pancakes. After being disappointed with what’s available in the store I decided that I’ll just make my own pancakes that taste better and made with better ingredients. Our favorite type of pancake is with blueberries that we pick over the summer and freeze to use in pancakes or muffins. We buy the Maple Grove Farms Organic Pancake Mix, definitely worth a try!
To make lunch packing quicker we keep pre-packed snacks like pretzels, veggie-sticks and gold fish in snack sized zip lock bags. A friend suggested this to me several years ago when my oldest started school, so shout to my friend Jenna! If you buy a full bag of pretzels or whatever snack item and then dive them up yourself into smaller portions you’re actually saving money versus buying pre-packaged snack bags. You can create a similar snack drawer in the fridge with grapes, carrots and other perishable snacks. Another bonus is we use this for on the go snacks and kids can help themselves.
We make sure that in the evening, the kids put their homework folders and anything else that needs to go to school into their backpack, outside of the lunch box and a water bottle everything should be in their bags. One of my kids conveniently forgot to pack their library book last week so we spent over fifteen minutes looking for a book that turned out to be sitting on the hallway bench, hidden underneath a sweater. That was not a fun exercise and can get frustrating so we always try to do this the evening before.
To keep track of all the extracurricular activities, school events and family appointments we have a family calendar in the kitchen. A lot of people refer to this as a Family Command Center, I simply think of it as a way to make sure my husband’s and mine phone calendars are in sync. As much as I like my calendar app, it doesn’t give us a way to properly manage all the paper that comes with having a family. You can search online and find some really elaborate family command centers, ours is a dry erase monthly wall calendar and a matching bulletin board where we keep school fliers, lunch menu, birthday party invites etc. The key to these family command centers is to have them somewhere central where most of the family members can see what’s going on a particular day. Most families keep theirs in the kitchen, it’s where everyone comes first in the morning and where kids come right after school. As a mom I’m sure I’m not the only one who keeps to-do lists and appointments in her head, the reality is seeing it all written down helps me stay organized and focus on activities for that day.
I hope this post helps some of you moms and dads out here, and most of all I hope your kiddos have a wonderful school year!