After six years of having kids in school we are starting to finally have peace in the mornings & relative peace in the evenings. I thought I would share my goals for this school year. These are goals. Some are nailed. Some are not. I'd love to hear your thoughts and advice on how you made/make it out the door in good spirits day after day.
1. Lay out everyone's clothes the night before. We manage to do this about half the time. It doesn't matter much for Micah, but for the girls this is a vital step. They are four and eight & could spend an hour trying on outfits in the morning ~ soooo opinionated already. Nothing irritates me more in the early morning. Get dressed and be done with it for pity's sake!
2. Keep up with laundry. That way the favorite go to items are washed and ready to wear every week. I actually spent a fair amount of time purging their closets this year. There were so many cute (to me) things that they just don't wear. It is so much easier to have less and love every piece.
3. Unload backpacks within ten minutes of getting home. For some reason I have to remind them of this rule every day, but once they get this done they seem to be able to keep going until all the after school chores are done.
4. Keep plenty of easy school lunch items in stock. I go to ALDI once a week and when they have special buys of something we like I stock up. That way we always seem to have organic juice boxes, organic string cheese, applesauce cups (without hfcs), fruit leathers and individual trail mix packs on hand.
5. Write out an after school routine and just point them to it when the inevitable goofing off begins. Ours is to unload the backpacks & lunch boxes, feed and water the animals, fix a snack, do any homework and set the table. After those things are done they are free until supper time.
6. Limit computer and/or screen time. In the past we let them have 20 minutes each two days a week. Last year Micah began to find this very unfair. After a lot of talking and considering we decided he can play Minecraft 20 minutes a day after the girls are in bed. As the oldest child this gives him a bit more privilege to go with his responsibility. He is now a happier more helpful kid. We tried letting him get up early and do this in the morning, but it just does not work for me. It is much harder to be motivated after being on the computer first thing in the morning.
7. Once the backpacks are unloaded go through their papers immediately. Most can be tossed. Some are saved for the cuteness factor, some are signed and returned to backpacks and some are tossed after writing pertinent information onto the family planner (see number 9).
8. Plan dinners a week in advance. Shop once a week. Check the meal plan every evening to figure out what needs to come out of the freezer and if any meal prep needs to be done early the next day. If it does write it down in the planner! I love to cook so this is no hardship for me. However to give me a bit of a break and to teach the kids some responsibility I let them plan and prepare our Saturday supper. On Sunday I fix one good meal and let everyone fend for themselves the rest of the day.
9. Write EVERYTHING down in the family planner. I like to plan my work and then work my plan. It's so fun to check things off after they are accomplished. Plus if I am gone the fam has no excuses for not getting things done!
10. Set up a homework zone. We have a basket in the dining room that holds papers, pencils and sharpeners since they tend to work at the dining room table. This spot is not actually ideal for Ayla, because she can't do her homework with a lot of noise going on around her. Unfortunately she needs the most help with her homework so she needs to be near me. I'm not sure how else we could do this. Right now I try to send the other kids away if they are too loud. This is not quite as easy on the two days I baby-sit.
11. Make fun afternoon snacks at least once a week. This can be a big bowl of popcorn, a fruit smoothie or fresh from the oven baked goods.
12. Sit down and be truly present when the kids come home. I struggle with this the most. There is always something I didn't get checked off my list, but I know that it is very important to connect with them after their day. I also need to help Ayla with her homework so I am really trying to sit with them for about 30 minutes before I start fixing supper.
So, that's it for this year. What do you do? How do you make things work with after school activities? Do you have any advice for us? I would love to hear from you!