28 July 2011
Ready or Not
You are Better Off When Ready
I know that many, if not most moms, are eager for school to start in the next month or so. I actually prefer it when the kids are home. I’d rather not have to: make lunches, rush out the door, hurry through the daily tasks, monitor homework, fit in dinner, and rush them to bed, only to start again the next day.
Probably since my oldest was in first grade I’ve said that if I could, I’d keep them home with me, rather than send them to school. No, I really don’t want to homeschool, I’d just rather not have to deal with the ups and downs of the school days. That said, ready or not, school will be back in session soon; very soon for many kids around the country. My kids don’t start until after Labor Day, though, so I’ll enjoy the dog days for a another month
I know opening day is out there. I’ve seen the displays at Target, gotten ads from Office Depot, signs everywhere remind me of the countdown to the opening bell. So, I decided to venture out do the supply shopping. I used to look forward to buying the school supplies. All the freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks and the wonderful aroma of crayons beckoned. Now, though, it’s hard to find pre-sharpened pencils. Therefore, I am the one who has to sharpen them; this thought severely dampens the experience, especially since I have three school aged children, all of whom have about 50 pencils on their supply lists.
Having three school aged kids to buy for makes it a daunting task.
As I stood in the aisle at Target, I found it hard to even get started. I looked at the first item on the list for the first grader- 2 boxes 24 ct. Crayola crayons. Crayons are seventh on the list for the fourth grader and not on the seventh grader’s list at all. Do I go through the first grade list, then the fourth grade list, then the seventh grade list? Or do I try to get crayons for both at the same time so I don’t have to back track?
I didn’t even get a single item in my cart before I gave up. Having my 2-year-old in tow probably did not help my state of mind. I decided to do the shopping from the comfort of my home, online. Sometimes spending a little more (and it really is very little and the box of supplies comes right to my door) in order to preserve sanity, is worth it.
Getting ready for nine months of packing lunches and snacks is something I do not even want to think about right now, but thinking about it can help me prepare so it’s not such a daunting task. The main thing I do to make it all easier is to have easily packable items on hand at all times and have back up items to throw in when we run out of time in the morning. Bags of chips, Uncrustables, bunches of grapes, small applesauces, yogurts, string cheese, etc. all are easy to pack foods.
Bulk bags of healthy snack foods are perfect for helping make the daily snack easier. (I, personally, don’t remember ever having school sanctioned snack time after kindergarten, but that’s just me.) I like to keep bulk bags of almonds and dried fruit on hand. I can just scoop a small plastic container into the bag, pop on the lid and voila- snack is ready for the backpack.
The key to back to school, as any other time in our busy parenting lives, is to make things as easy as possible on ourselves. Why fret over the small details when, very often, there is a simpler way to go about the task?
The start of the school year is a great chance to start with a clean slate. Set up a system to make your life easier.
Set a specific place for the kids’ backpacks so that when the kids come home from school, the backpacks, coats, etc. don’t end up all over the house. You can hang hooks just below the kitchen counter or just inside the door so that the backpacks hang nicely. Get a coat rack or hang hooks for the kids’ jackets so that they don’t end up dropped at the entryway. (I also do this with the towels and swimming suits after a day at the pool.) The key is to keep the mess manageable. Your house may not look Architectural Digest photo shoot ready, but you’ll feel calmer… at least I do.
Get the children used to a schedule again. In our house, during the school year, the boys have to read a novel or nonfiction Sunday night through Thursday night. On the weekends, they can read whatever they choose. In the summer, they have free choice on Wednesday nights as well. As it gets closer to the start of school, we go back to the school year reading schedule. Also, the boys do a bit of “school” work each day. I print a work sheet off of the internet from a site like math-drills.com. The boys have to do a worksheet before they get their daily screen time.
All this “order” might make me sound like a drill sergeant and give you the impression that my house runs with military precision (I am a Navy wife, after all). However, just like any other household, we roll with the punches. Hiccups happen every day, in one form or another. But, with all of these systems in place, at least the potholes in our path cause only small bumps in the road and not flat tires that take us off the road completely.