Is summer over already?!
As a working mama of 4, I don’t really get much of a summer break anyway.
Besides the time I take off for summer vacation (if we take one), I’m still chugging away as a nurse all day. And even though I still have to drag kids out of bed in the morning, I don’t really care how presentable they look because we are just going to Grandma’s or our babysitter (who is like a grandma).
As long as everyone is dressed (possibly in whatever they slept in) and has their teeth brushed, the rest of it just doesn’t matter.
So when school starts back, it really is a shock to our system!
Because I have 4 kids, and we are all going in 3 different directions, life during school season is quite chaotic to say the least.
It can get downright out of hand! And, I don’t know about you, but my mornings set the stage for how the rest of the day is going to go, and the same goes for the kiddos.
Mornings before school are often full of yelling, tantrums, and short-fuses. Nobody can find their shoes. We forgot to sign the papers. The sock basket is overflowing with non-mated socks who have lost their better halves.
We just cannot get it together!
If you are a mom, working from home or away from home, I bet this sounds familiar.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get it all together so that your mornings (and evenings) weren’t so crazy that you can’t enjoy your family?
Let me tell you how!
Over the summer, I have developed a system for our home that I feel is sure to take the chaos out of our routines, both in the morning and at night.
I’m sharing these with you in hopes that we can help each other to make changes that can really affect our lives.
Some of these things seem so small when you look at them, but add them all up and, WOW!
Give it a shot! I mean, really. What do you have to lose? The back-to-school clock is ticking….
Create a Routine for Kids and MAKE IT VISIBLE
You would think that a good morning and evening routine would just be second nature to kids returning to school, especially once they’ve been at it for a few weeks, but NO.
Every day is like the first day. Nobody knows what to do next. Nobody knows where their shoes are.
They think brushing their teeth is some torture technique that I came up with just to make them unhappy.
So this year, I created a morning/evening routine printable. Everybody gets a copy.
They hang it in their room where it is visible. This way, they know EXACTLY what to do every. single. day.
Nobody has to ask, and they can’t say they forgot.
Your list/routine may not be the same as mine, but I bet they are pretty similar.
Feel free to grab mine or make your own. There are plenty of good ones on Pinterest.
Some ideas to put on your routine include:
Kids’ Morning Routine
- Get up! Since we have 5 people sharing one bathroom, we stagger the times that we get up.
- Get dressed to your shoes.
- Grab your bags!
- Get in the car!
Kids’ Evening Routine
- Do homework
- Chore of the day
- Brush teeth
- Get papers signed
- Free time (if any left)
- Bed by 8:30-9:00
***We lay our clothes out on Sunday nights for Monday-Friday, including socks and accessories.
Nobody has time to look for Jojo bows when I am trying to get 4 kids and myself to school, daycare, and work by 8:00.
By nobody, I mean Mama.
Create a Grown-up Routine (and stick to it)
Let’s be honest. Just because school starts back and we have added a zillion things to our To-Do list, the other ten million things we were already doing still have to get done.
We can’t let the house fall apart because we have added all this extra stuff to the plate.
You are tired….Trust me, I GET IT! Oh my goodness, do I get it!
I am so exhausted by the time that I get home in the evening that I do not want to do another thing.
But hear me out! You only have a few choices.
You can either do a little everyday, have a really messy house, or spend your entire weekend getting caught up.
Unless you can afford a housekeeper. If you can, GET ONE! But if every penny counts (like it does for us), this is not an option.
So if a housekeeper is not an option for you, then take a few minutes and create you a morning and evening routine.
After a while, it will become second nature.
Just like the kids’ charts, make sure you put it where you can see it! None of this out-of-sight, out-of-mind business.
I literally have a 4’x3′ dry erase wall calendar in my kitchen staring at me every morning. It’s how I keep my sanity.
I strongly recommend that you get one.
Some ideas for your routine include:
- Start a load of laundry
- Empty the dishwasher
- Get dressed and ready for work
- Make sure kids are up and ready for school
- Fix breakfast (make this quick and easy- save big meals for the weekend) and EAT…
- Put clothes in the dryer
- Homework help
- Get kids to bed
- Fold laundry
- Check backpacks
- Pack lunches
Remember… one load of laundry a day will completely change your life.
Sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. Trust me on this one.
Also, Mom has to check clothes on Sunday nights to make sure everybody has put together decent outfits for the week. My girls usually do fine. My son….not so much!
And get rid of the sock basket! You know you have one!
It takes way more time to dig through the basket every morning than it does to just fold them up as you do laundry!
Especially if you have a big family like mine.
Create a Backpack Station
Before my backpack station, the kids would literally drop their stuff when they came in the door.
When you came in my kitchen, there would be backpacks and lunch boxes everywhere!
We usually do homework in the kitchen, so it made sense to them to leave them there.
I knew that I needed to give them a designated place to hang their bags to get them out of my kitchen.
I literally just put some hooks (Early American Single Prong Wrought Iron Hooks, Set of 4 – Rustic Curved Metal Fasteners – Decorative Colonial Wall Décor” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>like these) on the wall in an area right by the back door. It’s out of the way, but easily accessible when it’s time for homework.
Everyone needs their own hook for their backpack, lunch box, and jacket.
You can also add an ClosetMaid 5081 Shoe Station, Espresso” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>area underneath for shoes. They can take their shoes off right by the door, and in the morning, there they are.
Right where they left them. It’s like magic!
Create a Homework Station
Homework time is not a joyous time in our home, so every little bit helps.
We normally do our homework at the kitchen island, and I can help with homework questions while I cook dinner.
Multitasking at it’s finest.
So instead of having to dig through drawers and backpacks for pencils, crayons, paper and other supplies, create a homework caddy complete with all the supplies that they may need for various projects, and get it out everyday at homework time.
It saves a ton of time and frustration.
What should you add to your caddy?
- colored pencils
- extra erasers
- construction paper
- glue sticks
Of course, you can add anything to your homework caddy. I mean, it is yours.
Add whatever you need so that you don’t have to go looking for it later.
Designate a Space for all of those Keepsake Papers
When my first baby started school, I kept literally EVERYTHING!
I kept every craft, every piece of paper, every scribble.
I think I filled up 3 large totes with projects and papers from pre-k and kindergarten.
Fast forward a few years and a few kids later, and I still keep a lot, but not nearly as much as I once did.
I learned how to sift through the papers and just keep the things that mean the most to me.
The little stories that they write.
The pictures they draw.
Things that melt my heart when I see them.
I keep a few pages of their ABCs, etc, but not all of them. But what do you DO with ALL of this STUFF???
First, you need to designate a place in the same area to put your stuff.
A good place is somewhere in the area where you do homework and check backpacks (I use a kitchen cabinet since we do homework in the kitchen. It’s also right beside the backpack station).
Get a plastic tote with a lid that will fit into the space. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
They make all different sizes.
Everyday when you check backpacks for all those papers that need signing, go through their papers and put your keepsakes in your designated bin and close it up.
Don’t put it on your kitchen table or leave them on your countertop.
They don’t belong there and just clutter everything up.
Let Them Do It Themselves
Moms… How many times have you jumped in and done something for your child that they could do for themselves?
Maybe they were taking too long or they didn’t do it just like you wanted so you just took over and did it for them.
Maybe you were in a hurry to get somewhere or maybe they were being whiny about it.
But they were capable.
Dependent kids become dependent adults, and this is good for no one.
You have to teach your kids to do for themselves.
Set clear expectations and goals for them.
Make them accountable.
Take some of the stress off of yourself.
We are not slaves to our children.
Yes, we love them.
Yes, we find joy in doing for them (well, sometimes).
But we cannot take full responsibility for everything in the household.
Teach them that you are a team, and every member has to carry their own load.
This may mean allowing a little more time in the morning to get going, but at least you don’t have to do all the work.
Let them do the hard stuff, too.
Teach them, and watch them succeed.
Watch them fail and teach them again.
Attend Back-to-School Night
If your child’s school offers back-to-school night, make it a priority to go.
Meet the teacher, and see the classroom. Let your child find their desk and get comfortable.
This small step helps to relieve so much anxiety about going back to school.
It’s a new environment even if this is not their first year to go.
Easing them into it with you by their side will help diminish those first day jitters.
Get Some Rest
Kids need sleep. So do parents.
I don’t think our kids get nearly the rest that they need.
I have seen those cute little charts floating around that says my kids should be in bed by 7:00 pm.
Whoever designed those probably knows what they are talking about, but they obviously never worked a full-time job while raising kids and living in the real world.
Many days, we aren’t even home yet by 7:00.
But we do the best we can.
The week before school starts back, start your kids bedtime schedule.
If 9:00 is their regular routine, go ahead and make them go to bed.
They may lie awake for a few minutes, but it’s better than them lying awake the night before school starts back. Just get them used to it.
Get a Calendar (or 2)
Invest in a good planner.
Keep it with you at all times.
Write stuff down.
The human brain is not wired to remember all the things that we have going on each day.
Things to put in your calendar:
- appointments (doctor, dentist, etc)
- school events
- church events
- extracurricular activities (practices, games)
- social events (birthday parties)
- bills due
- meal plan
- any other important event that you need to remember but won’t unless you write it down
I also have a GIANT dry-erase calendar on my kitchen wall where I transfer all of the things from my planner.
This way everyone in the house can look to see what is going on as well.
If you are a busy mom, this is not an option.
Just do it! I promise you will thank me for it later.