By Leah Woosley
BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIME is always a mixture of emotions for me as I am sure it is for a lot of you. I enjoy the routine and having to stick by a more strict schedule. I enjoy watching my children participate in their sports, telling me about their days and what they have learned, and having the opportunity to guide them through different problems. Oh, having the house stay clean and the laundry stay done for consecutive hours in a row is always a plus!! HA!
Then there is the down side of not hearing my kids’ voices all throughout the day, being able to just go to the park if we want, working on a project at home together, or just sitting and talking while baking together. Well, we just try to make the best of the busy times and enjoy all the good we can get out of every opportunity when we are all together.
Having six kids, getting everyone ready for school in the morning can be challenging. As far as grade school age kids go, I found that doing the following helped our mornings be less chaotic:
- I picked out five outfits, ironed them, and hung them in their closet. I let them choose from those five outfits which one they wanted to wear each day. I didn’t have to do anything in the morning to them.
- I made morning and evening checklists. If they were still learning to read, I printed off pictures of the things I wanted them to do: make the bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, wash face, brush hair, get a lunch together, and hug and kiss Mom and Dad goodbye. The evening checklist included the following: put school things away, do chores, shower, brush teeth, pick up room, read book with Mom, hug and kiss Mom and Dad goodnight.
Following these two suggestions saved me from having to say the same things every morning, and having the list helped me not to have to be a nag!
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SACK LUNCH PREPARATION
My kids do help make their lunches. To make it easier, I made use of baskets. One was filled with chips already in baggies. Another contained granola bars, cheese and crackers, or whatever snacks I got that week. A basket in the fridge held fruits, veggies, and drinks. They knew they could take one item out of each basket. In the morning they would assemble their lunch.
After they have finished making their lunch, I love to stick a note in it. Or I have stuck a note in their book bag or my boys’ pants pocket—maybe just letting them know I love them. Sometimes I draw a funny picture or tell them a joke—just wanting them to know I am thinking about them!
By the time our kids entered junior high, I had them get their clothes out the night before, and they did their own ironing! Chores are posted on a cork board so they know what they have to do, and I don’t have to tell them; they just check the board.
Something I did when our kids were about four years of age to help them with putting away their clothes was to draw a picture of the clothes item on a 3×5 card and tape it to the bottom of the drawer. That way they could look and know where their socks, shirts, underwear, etc.belonged. Their drawers were not perfect, but they enjoyed being able to do it on their own. The older they got, the more we worked on keeping them straightened. My husband always says, “Don’t do for our kids what they can do for themselves.” Quite frankly, I can use all the help I can get!
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A MONTHLY PLANNER
A must-have for me and something I rarely leave home without is my monthly planner. I really do take it everywhere and rarely make a decision without looking at it first! I write every child’s schedule in it and post activities such as games, practices, piano lessons, doctor’s appointments, ensemble practice, soul winning, parties, field trips, singing in chapel, and the list goes on. No doubt you get the idea! I don’t know how I would make it without my planner! I also like to keep a list of my meals, and I will post them for the week.
This practice eliminates my having to debate about what to have, and there is no thinking—just go to the kitchen and prepare what’s written down for that day.
Another thing I have always done with our kids before school starts is talk to them about school itself. I like to talk to them about how to talk to their teacher, what their teacher needs them to do, listening, and how their teacher needs a helper in class. I go over how to walk in line, work on their papers, and anything else I can think of that will help them. I talk to them about being nice to the other kids and how to play on the playground. When I pick them up, I love to talk about their day, look through their papers, compliment on what looks good, and help them if they are struggling in an area.
I know most of these ideas are geared toward grade school age kids. However, I have found that by the time they get older, being in these routines all these years becomes more of a habit with them. If you have teenage daughters like I do, the only thing I really say in the morning is “It’s time to go” about ten times because you know they are having trouble getting that last hair in place, and it has to be just right!!
HAVE A GOOD SPIRIT!
Each school day, before my children leave my car, I give each of them a hug (yep, even my junior highers and high schoolers, and they don’t seem to mind). I tell them I love them and that I hope they have a great day and that I prayed for them this morning and I am looking forward to seeing them after school.
When I pick them up after school, I try to always be in a good spirit—not thinking about the mess they left in their room or upset because they weren’t getting along with their brothers and sisters that morning. I let them know I missed them and am glad they are finally home! Good words are so important for them to hear! After all, I don’t know what their day has been like, but I do want them to think, “Yes, I am so glad I am home!”
KEEPING MY SANITY!
A lady once told me that we as wives and moms are the thermostat of our home. We set the mood and tone for our home—not that I am always successful. But I have found that I have a better chance of succeeding if I have planned and prepared ahead of time. That is exactly where these few ideas have come from—my trying to keep my sanity and my thermostat from boiling over!