School Start Up is a crazy time at our house; with the kids needing new school supplies and shoes (their feet have each grown two sizes this summer), and my needs for organization, cleanliness and routine. So in attempting to find a work-life balance this year I’ve put some plans into place to hopefully make the school startup just a little easier.
Erasable Chore Chart – My two youngest children are visual learners. They are better when they see it in front of them, then when they listen to me tell them a list of things they need to finish. This chore chart has been awesome, because it has their before school, after school and evening list of “To Do’s”. They know there is no asking for any play-time until these things are complete. They simply come downstairs and put a line through their chores when they are done. It’s a great visual reminder and a great way of making the “nagging” happen less often! Customize your own list of to do’s and put in a simple frame (I got mine from the dollar store), and Voila an erasable chore chart!
Bulletin Board Organizer – My two little ones like to ask me daily about what is happening after school. They like to know their schedules and as I stated above they are visual learners. This bulletin board is a place for them to have all of their activities and special days listed, as well as whether or not they have Hot Lunch, Library or need gym strip. This is also where they post work they are proud of, and homework that is an ongoing project. I’ve put a clear photo cover over the things that change each week so I can simply dry erase over them and then erase when needed. It’s a great visual representation of what we have going on (and is great for dad’s and grandparent’s too).
Visual Calendar – With Three children (our oldest is graduated), and our two busy schedules we need a place where everyone can see exactly what is going on each day (and for the week). This visual calendar is key to our family being able to stay on top of things. Each week I use my phone calendar, my husband’s work calendar, and the school calendars to write up our week at a glance on the fridge. This way each and every morning the kids can look at what is going on (Special days, play dates, appointments). As well, it’s a visual reminder for my husband and I what our week looks like. It is on our fridge, where it’s impossible to miss. It has been a lifesaver in our organization of our daily lives!
Snack Bin – Balancing work and three children can be a challenge. I often find that mornings can be full of anxieties and chaos. One of the things that I started last year that made my days run a little bit smoother were snack bins. On Sunday afternoon I do all the snack prep for the week. I make muffins and cookies and package them into containers and put them in the snack bin in the pantry, as well, I cut veggies and fruits and prepackage them and put them in the snack bin in the fridge. These two snack bins make lunch prep a breeze as the kids pick one veggie, one fruit and two healthy snacks to add to their main lunch item (which we wait and make together the night before). It takes the arguments out of the morning routine and it is something the kids know they need to do each morning as part of their chore list. It’s also great for my husband and I as when we are running out the door we can grab a muffin and fruit on the way out the door!
Flat Man – This is a long standing family tradition. My mom discovered with my brother that he desperately needed routine to make his mornings and life run smoothly. Often simply getting dressed in the morning became an argument. So my brilliant mom introduced flat man. Flat man is all of the clothes that your child is going to wear tomorrow laid out on their floor. If you have a fashion-loving, particular daughter like mine you know that what they are going to wear for school tomorrow can often be an issue. Before bed my daughter and son (although he isn’t overly particular about what he wears) lay out their flat person on their bedroom floor. When we tuck them in we check to ensure it’s appropriate for weather and for school. It’s a fun way for our kids to stay organized and my daughter loves adding accessories to her flat-woman on her bedroom floor. It saves us tons of arguments because in the morning they simply get up and put on what they had chosen the night before. Simple but time saving!!
I hope some of these ideas help you, like they did me, manage the craziness of mornings and children. They’ve become a fun part of our day, and thankfully are becoming habit for our kids. My son has asked for an erasable “chore chart” for the things he needs to remember at school for his backpack. So that’s my next organizational tool to create for him. On that note, It’s the Monday before school starts and I have some serious baking to do!! Wishing you and your family tons of joy this school year!