the domestic tales of four sisters

Back to School Boot Camp

I know, I know.  It’s technically still July and here I am going all Walmart with the back to school stuff already.  The thing is, here in Central PA, the kids start back August 21st! Yes, we’re a mere 3 weeks from the first day of school and this home daycare provider is ready to send those big kids back!

Yep, I have a countdown. Not really. {Yes I do!}

I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly excited for what comes with the first day of school. The early mornings, homework, lunch packing… it seems there is so much more to accomplish in those few hours before and after school.  Our family has well established routines for those hours but it seems our daily routines have taken a summer break with the kids.  Example: It’s 8:46 pm and my three children are currently playing on the living room floor, no pajamas, teeth have not been brushed, stories have not been read… we’re a good 20-30 minutes from beds.

Clearly, we’re not in back to school ‘form.’ So, this mommy decided we needed a few weeks to whip ourselves into shape before the first day of school.  I’m calling it…

Back to School Boot Camp… it has such a nice ring, doesn’t it?

With the success of my goal to take back my mornings (Great success, I’ll be posting on that soon!), I decided the best route was to address our ‘problem’ areas in little bits.  So, for the next three weeks we’re going to make little changes to our days with the goal of being completely on track the week before school.  Our big ‘problem’ areas are our AM and PM routines, bedtime, clothes picking (I’ll explain later), and lunch prep.

First stop, PM routines and bedtime.  Let’s just say ‘bedtime’ has been pretty much non-existent.  Because we’re home and the kids can sleep til whenever they want, we haven’t exactly enforced a bedtime.  At all.  Most nights they’ve been in bed by 9 but there have been some many nights when they were a bit much later than that going to bed.  Since I can’t expect them to get up at a decent hour if they went to bed late we’re starting with bedtime.  For the next week we’re going to focus on re-establishing our PM/bedtime routine which looks something like this…

7:00pm- Watch one TV show of choice

7:30pm- Quiet Educational Activity (iPad, Leappads, etc)

7:45pm- Change into Jammies, brush teeth, potty

8:00pm- Little Man stories and bed/Girls read silently for 20-30 minutes then lights out

Once we have our PM/bedtime routine working a little better we’ll add the AM routine. My 8-year-old can/will get herself completely ready for school in the morning only needing me to fix her hair (which she will have already brushed thoroughly).  The 6-year-old, however, needed quite a bit of reminding/keeping on task last year. Because I have a houseful of kidos by 8am, I NEED my girls to be self-sufficient at this time of day. In order to set us up for success in this area, I’m going to print out everything they need to accomplish before school.

There are many routine charts floating around the internet (You’re seriously a Pinterest search away from hundreds!) but here is the one we’re going to use.

Fun right? I found this one at South Shore Mamas! I’m hopeful that with a couple weeks of practice, she’ll be go to go for the first week of school.

The final piece, for the kids anyway, is the picking of clothes.  Most people make this part of the evening routine.  It is actually something I do each night before bed.  For the kids, I took it a step further.  We purchased a KIDS DAILY ACTIVITY ORGANIZER – 6 SHELF HANGING CLOSET and put it in their closet.  Each weekend, usually Sunday evening but sometimes before if we have plans, the girls pick their clothes for the entire week.  I prefer doing it this way for several reasons but a few are…

  1. I’m not completely exhausted after a long day and therefore lacking in patience. I can control when exactly we accomplish this task so, while they do it almost completely independently, I have the patience necessary when a certain 6-year-old wants to wear winter boots in May. 🙂
  2. We do it once for the week so conversations like the one above all happen at once and not three times in one week.
  3. The girls can get dressed without help in the mornings. Once clothes are picked I know they will come out of their room dressed appropriately for the events of the day.

We’ll start this the week before the first week of school just to have a practice run and to re-visit what matches, etc.

The final step in Back to School Boot Camp is just for mom (for now) and it’s a new one.  Ok, confession time.  A few times {more than I’d like to admit} last year, I forgot to pack my girls’ lunches.  I realized this when we were lining up to leave for the bus.  So the girls were told to buy lunch (which would consist of a PB&J if they didn’t like the lunch of the day *facepalm*) and I would send them out the door so they didn’t miss the bus.  Determined to keep that from happening, we’re going to pack lunches at night.

Each evening, after cleaning up dinner, I’m going to prep the girls lunches for the next day.  This will help immensely because in the morning all I’ll need to do is grab the stuff from the fridge and toss it into their lunch bags.  My goals in making this change are…

  1. I won’t forget to pack lunches. 🙂
  2. I will take one task from my crazy mornings and move it to my not-so-crazy evenings, giving me a little grace in my mornings.
  3. I will take more time in prepping them therefore creating more healthy/frugal choices.
  4. I will slowly teach the girls to accomplish this with the ultimate goal of them doing so independently by Christmas break.

This is the only step I can’t really practice, as I have to cook lunch each day for the daycare crew.  However, I’m going to be noting what I plan to pack the girls when I meal plan for the month so I am sure to have everything I need on hand when I start to prep lunches.  If you’re looking to break the PB&J habit (guilty as charged), I have some fun and healthy options in my Lunch Box Ideas Pinterest board!

Well, that’s it! Back to School Boot Camp! I’m hopeful that breaking each of these changes into little bits will be an effective way to prepare for the first day of school. It will sure be better than, “Oh my goodness, school starts this week! Where’s your backpack? Lunchbox? What are you wearing? Do we have bread?…”

Happy Back to School Time!



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