1. Breakfast Drama
One of the things that stresses me out the most is making sure my kids are well-fed before school, because if they go to school hungry I can count on one of three things: 1) bad attitude at pickup; 2) a note from the teacher asking if we need financial assistance because my kid said that I didn’t feed him; and 3) my son eating the entire pantry before I wake up the next morning. There’s also the issue of my son having low energy to focus and not being able to concentrate in class, and since he’s going to school to learn, that’s kind of a problem.
Solution: Premade Breakfasts
I’ve been scouring Pinterest for easy breakfasts that can either be made in bulk and frozen or things that can be easily prepared the night before it’s to be eaten, and I’ve had good results. Recipes for breakfast burritos, baked egg cups and crock-pot oatmeal now inhabit my Back-to-School board, and if I can remember to make them when I’m supposed to, mornings before school will be a little bit sweeter, If I fail, there are always Pop-Tarts. This strategy can be applied to making lunches ahead of time too!
2. Supplies to Meet Demands
My kids love to delay the onslaught of reviewing what they’ve learned at school that day by acting like they can’t find what they need to complete the work. All of the pencils are either broken or missing, there’s no clean paper, and the scissors for those stupid cut-and-paste worksheets are MIA.
Solution: A Homework Station
I saw an article on (where else?) Pinterest about this very thing, where you create a basket or repurpose a shower caddy into a container where all homework-essential items will reside. Paper, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, markers, rulers and whatever else they might need will live in this basket. Go ahead and decorate it, and take a picture for Instagram. When homework time is over, this container will be put up where my kids cannot pilfer through it when they want to make paper dolls or cut a doll’s hair without asking, because they know I will say no. Also, assigning a place like the kitchen table, or desks in their rooms if they’re older, makes homework time easier, and their work will look less rumpled than if they did it on the carpet. Plus, you need a place to put the Homework Helper Caddy that you worked so hard on.
3. Avoiding the Daily Surprises
I always feel like I’m running behind, and with four kids their schedules clash. It’s seriously a lot of crap to remember, and after years of memorizing songs from kids’ videos, I don’t have the necessary brain space to keep track of it all. So begins a panicky, anxiety-filled cycle of worrying that we will pull up to school to see that 1) my kids were supposed to wear a certain T-shirt; 2) I was supposed to bring a snack for a class; or 3) it’s a holiday and there is no school. Other parents at the school probably think I’m flying by the seat of my pants, but if I screw up too many times they’ll wonder if I even own any pants.
Solution: A Big Ole Calendar (BOC)
I’m going to mount this sucker on my wall and fill in the events each month so that everyone in the house can see it, and either remind me of things or be held semi-responsible when stuff is forgotten. I will immediately add all events to my phone’s calendar so that they can be transferred to the BOC easily. Kids will be forbidden to touch the BOC, just as they know my phone is off-limits. I learned the hard way with hairbrushes that they will lose anything I don’t expressly forbid them from touching. I may not be able to keep them out of the bathroom when I’m in there, but they will not touch my phone or BOC. Boundaries, people.
4. Fashion Show From Hell
Two of my four kids actually care what they wear each day, and the other two never seem to know where any of their clean clothes are located—even though I do their laundry. This turns into a cross between a battle of the wills and a scavenger hunt for clothes that don’t create a hobo-worthy outfit. Ain’t nobody got time for this. At least I don’t.
Solution: Laying Out Clothes the Night Before
Lay out “shadows,” starting with the shirt at the top, all the way down to shoes and socks at the bottom. Mine like to put their underwear inside the pants, too. This includes their backpack, so that they can make sure they have it ready. This ensures each kid has every single item of necessary clothing the night before. Clothes can be washed/located/repaired/WHATEVER without a countdown to walking out the door looming overhead like a ticking bomb.
Let’s start out with a plan to match our good intentions, so that the school year—or at least the first few weeks of it—will run more smoothly. Good intentions may have paved the road to hell, but at least mine will have had breakfast before they head down AC/DC’s infamous highway.