As a mom of four messy children, I get grumpy when things in my house become out of control. I am always trying to find clever ways of keeping my house in order. There is a lot of extra prep for all of us moms and dads right now as we gear up and find the newest, most clever ways to streamline the transition back to school.
If your kids are anything like mine, back to school translates into tired, over stimulated, grumpy kids in the morning when they have to wake up earlier than they are used to. In the afternoon when I pick the kids up from school I am consoling meltdowns and extreme tired grumpy behavior. It is hard to go back to school after a nice summer of freedom and relaxation.
Here is a list of 10 ideas guaranteed to help the transition back to school go more smoothly for parents and children.
1. Labeling Saves Time and Money
I have four kids so my labels take on a dual purpose. I use labels on clothing at home to know which articles of clothing belong to which of my kids. Because three of my children are triplets who wear the exact same size, I find that clothing labels save me frustration. In addition, when your kids inevitably leave their clothes at friends’ houses, you will get them back. I have had moms text me saying they have one of my kids’ dresses or pajamas and are always impressed that I had an identifying label on the tag.
For school, water bottles, lunch boxes and coats must always be labeled so when my kids leave school without them, they are returned promptly. Pre-made labels are not cheap. I usually spend around $50 buying labels for my kids each year. If you don’t want to have to take a loan out on your home in order to label things around your house, you can no-iron clothing labels for much less money from Amazon, and write on them yourself.
2. A Home For The Backpacks
Before my kids all started Kindergarten three years ago, I devised a space in my home where backpacks would live. The thought of four backpacks and lunch boxes sprawled all over my house in indiscriminate places made me feel like I needed a strong cocktail. For very inexpensively, I put up a coat rack in the laundry room that has six hooks, enough for all four backpacks. Now my kids walk through the backdoor straight to the laundry room to hang up their backpacks, and then beeline to the kitchen to place their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter. Early cocktail hour averted.
3. Don't Throw Your Shoes and Coats All Over My House!
I don’t like shoes to be worn in my house because I envision my kids walking down the street stepping in someone’s lougie, discarded gum and dog pee, and then walking all over my carpet with those same shoes. I also get pretty tired of seeing shoes and coats strewn about my house. My husband got some inexpensive shelving from Home Depot and installed racks himself in the garage. Now before my kids enter the house they have to place shoes on designated shelves and hang their coats up. Those items of clutter potential never even make it into my home.
4. Lunchbox Prep
This year I have purchased bento boxes for all of my kids for lunchtime at school. I figure in a few months the bento boxes will pay for themselves with all of the Ziploc bags I will be saving. Bonus – I am also helping our environment.
Before bedtime each night I lay the lunchboxes out and prep them with the unrefrigerated items they will bring to school the next day. This saves me five to ten minutes in the morning.
5. Wake Up Before Your Kids Even Though It's Hard
My husband has been suggesting I implement this tip for years, but sadly, I am not a morning person. Yet, when I follow this little gem of wisdom and wake up an hour before my kids, it starts my day off on a positive note. I am able to take a shower and make my coffee before the kids march down the stairs like a herd of elephants. This technique just starts the day off on the right foot.
6. Lay Kids' Clothing Out Before Bed
My kids are terrible at picking out their own outfits. Sometimes I let them create their own style and go to school in plaid and stripes, or in all white like the ice cream lady (my 7-year-old daughter’s favorite outfit). When I want my kids to look like they are actually cared for instead of looking like orphan Annie, I find it extremely helpful to have each child help me lay out an outfit each night. When my kids wake up in the morning the first thing they do is put the outfit on before they come downstairs for breakfast. This is a time saver and hassle reducer.
7. After School Responsibility Chart
My husband and I created an after-school chart in an attempt to set our family up for success upon their return home. Children need boundaries, guidance and direction when they get home from school to be happy and successful individuals. The chart has reminders about homework, chores and reading. If my children complete the after-school responsibilities WITHOUT COMPLAINING each day of the week, they earn ten Lego dollars.
Here is what the chart looks like. You can find it available for use on The Hip Mothership.
8. Spray The Lice Away
The first month of school when my triplets started Kindergarten and my older daughter was in 4th grade we got head lice. Twice. The first time it happened all of our heads were covered in lice and I spent days try to rid us of the disgusting little bugs. The second time we got lice I did the ugly cry for an hour and then came up with solutions so that we would never have to get lice again.
One of the preventative measures I take is spraying all of my children’s hair with a simple combination of water, 6 drops of tea tree oil (which lice hate) and 6 drops of lavender (which smells great), which I put in a spray bottle. I douse their little heads in the spray each morning before I comb it out. Since we have been doing this we have not had a lice outbreak (knock on wood). Oh and since lice hate dirty hair, I never wash my children’s hair. Just kidding, I do occasionally make them wash their hair. Try the spray, it helps tame hair and prevent lice.
9. Meal Preparation
Meal planning, that nasty little chore that falls right between a visit to the dentist and constipation in my book. Meal planning takes time, preparation and organization. What it lacks is everything that comes so naturally in life like laziness and spontaneity. Yet, when I meal plan, I feel like supermom. Meal planning not only saves time during the week, but it saves money because you buy only the ingredients you need for the week instead of the ingredients you think you may need. Here are a few of my favorite meals to make in bulk and freeze for those nights you are running kids around to various sports and do not have time to cook.
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
To find the recipes for my kids’ favorite meals, go to my Pinterest board.
10. The Final Touches Before Heading Back To School
Now it is time to start prepping for school! This means getting the kids in bed earlier than 10pm and waking them up at 7am. It's time to start winding down the electronics usage and bringing in the books and maybe some math problems to get their brains working again. Helping our kids find their perfect back to school outfit and lay it out. Get the lunchboxes and backpacks out and dust them off. And when the bus rolls up that first day back and your kids climb aboard and wave goodbye, wait until the bus is completely out of sight before you do the big happy freedom dance. Then go have lunch with your girlfriends and be sure to order a bottle of bubbly.