I have been a homeschool mom for the past 20 years or so, but one year, about 9 years ago, my children asked me if they could attend the local public schools. I got them all registered and before we knew it, the first day arrived. All of the children were excited so they picked out their clothes a few days before. They had their backpacks ready, got up early and happily went out the door. Unfortunately, that didn't happen everyday. As the year progressed, school mornings became a time of stress and frustration. I would get upset because we couldn't find a shoe or someone had lost their backpack etc. We would all search, while the clock was ticking, until I was ready to scream. There were many days when the children left almost in tears and the last thing they saw as they went out the door was a frustrated and angry look on their dear mother's face.
On the days that I was on bus run duty, we would get in the car late, pick all of the kids up late and race to the bus, praying the whole way that we hadn't missed it. I was haggard, ornery and uptight. I would go to the bus stop and look around at the other parents there and wonder if they too had had a very bad morning. I dreaded school mornings and counted the days until summer break. The next year the kids and I decided we preferred homeschool over public school, so they stayed home with me. I would look out the window and watch all of my neighbors take their kids to the bus stop and thank my lucky stars that I wasn't dealing with that again. We did homeschool for the next 8 years.
Well, last school year, my 2nd grader begged me to let her go to school with her friends. My first reaction was one of horror. " Are you Insane!", I thought. That would require going through the morning stress again and I did NOT want to do it. I finally gave in and registered her for school, but I was determined to do things differently this time. I wanted to enjoy the school year with my daughter and be smiling at her when she stepped onto the bus.
I realized that changing my mornings from times of frustration to time's of ease was all about preparation and planning. I know, I am a little slow. Organized mom's would have done this naturally. I thought some of you wonder women out there might be a little like me and not fall into the school routine with ease, so I am going to list some of the things I learned. Here goes:
1. Plan a lunch and snack menu a few days in advance so you have time to purchase items if necessary.
2. Prepare lunches and snacks the night before. ( Keep refrigerated if necessary)
3. Fill all water bottles and Juice bottles the night before. (refrigerate)
4. Schedule a set time everyday for doing homework and looking at school papers etc. Be sure to sign
all necessary papers, and return all items, that need to go back to school, to your child's backpack so
it is all ready to go the next morning.
5. Lay out all clothes the night before.This includes: outfit, underclothes, shoes, socks, jackets, coats
6. If the weather is cold, It is a good idea to gather all winter gear the night before and put it in a bag
to make it easy to grab in the morning. This will ensure that your child is warm during recess.
7. Plan your breakfast menu the night before.
8. Get out of bed at least 30 min. before your children so you can have a few minutes to get going.
9. Keep all backpacks and everything your child will need to take with them in a designated area where
it will be easy to grab in the morning.
10. Plan your schedule so that you arrive at the school or bus stop at least ten minutes early.
We had our schedule timed down to the minute, and most days it went off without a hitch. There were a few days that didn't go as well because I didn't have time to prepare the night before. I would start her day with a warning, wake up call about 30 minutes before she had to get up. This is my snooze call. ( I know how I like to hit the snooze button at least once before I get up.) This made it easier for her to get up when it really was time.
Her clothes were laid out by her bed. Her back pack was filled with everything she needed to take back and was also hanging near her bed. We had shoes, socks, jackets and winter gear all gathered and ready to go as well. She was able to get up and quickly get ready while I prepared her breakfast. She had plenty of time to eat and get all of her grooming in. We left for the bus stop 12 minutes early so as not to be rushed. This made a very positive time for us to spend together before she got on the bus. We used this time for studying spelling words and reading together.
I watched many other parents come flying in at the last minute, cars and kids crazily moving through the parking lot in their haste to get to the bus. Many parents were still in their pajamas, their hair uncombed and they looked like they needed a good cup of coffee. I felt sorry for them because I had been there before. How grateful I was that I wasn't in their shoes.
My daughter, hugged me as she got out of the car. She got onto the bus and happily visited with her friends. The coolest thing of all, though, was that my planning paid off! The last thing she would see as the bus drove away was her dear mother waving and sometimes doing "I love You" hand signs with a big happy smile on my face!
* Watch for future posts on great ideas for school lunches and snacks.