In someways I can't believe it's already August, and in others, school can't start soon enough!
Get ready for school
Keep an eye out for back to school festivals in your area. In High Springs, the Lion's Club will be doing an event from 10-2 on Sat, Aug 6th at the Civic Center. They're giving free hearing and eye exams to 100 children, free hot dogs and drinks to all of the kids, hamburgers and drinks for the adults, backpacks are being given to I believe 500 kids, they'll have sprots physicals, identa kid, bicycle helmets, hair cuts, the fire department and more.
Watch for more school supply sales. This is the time of year to stock up for businesses as well.
Making things easier at home
There are some things you can do to make life easier at home during the school year.
Breakfast and Lunch Menus
We have a menu for each kid. All it is is a piece of paper with lunch choices on one side and breakfast choices on the other. The lunch items are divided into food group sections with a number in each section stating how many can be chosen from each group. The menus are slipped inside gallon zip lock bags and the kids use wet or dry erase markers to indicate their choices for the next day. This way, I know what they want to have for breakfast before they get up, so I can have it ready (or if they make they're own, they don't spend all morning standing in front of the fridge or cupboard trying to decide). Lunch is decided so I can make it the night before, or they can again without the same stupefied look that can plague the decision making process. The menus are updated with additions and crossing out things as the stock at home changes.
We purchased pool hooks at a yard sale. They're large sturdy hooks with a hole underneath the hook. Seasonally appropriate coats are kept on a hanger hung from the hole in the hook. Backpacks hang from the hook itself. Homework is kept in the backpack on the hook at all times except when being done. This way, when it's time to go, we don't have to search for coats and backpacks.
Lunch Box Cleanup
Each child is in charge of their own lunch box. I refuse to clean up the sticky slimy old food mess in lunch boxes. Each child is in charge of their own drink bottle and lunch box. It gets emptied and cleaned out when they get home, or I get to send them with the extra lunch box (a very embarrassing one) that I have and then they get to clean both out. They also need to remember to bring home their lunch box at the end of the day, or they get the embarrassing one the next day. Most kids are capable of taking care of their own things and a little responsibility is a good thing.
This will be the first year that both kids have a required uniform to wear everyday. I'm looking forward to avoiding the issues that go with choosing clothing everyday. A good suggestion is to have them laid out before bed each night. It makes the mornings a lot easier.
Socks & Underwear
Have you ever heard the cry 20 minutes or less before it's time to leave that someone doesn't have socks or underwear. I have. Here's one solution... keep a "magic" stash where the kids can't find it of socks and underwear for everyone. Then when you hear the cry, you can come to the rescue and know it's time to re-stock the stash that night. You might want to stock a less desired set so that there will be more reason to have everyone responsible for their own clothing and not reliant on you for everything.
Notes for Home
Set up a box for notes home to be put. Then you just need to check the box each evening. The teachers usually give incentives to the kids to have notes signed or turned in on time, you just need to provide a place for them to be dropped off and possibly picked up by the kids (or you can put them in backpacks when complete).
Families can have crazy schedules at times, especially with older kids. Find one place-by the door, in the kitchen, etc, where everyone will look everyday. Hang a white board, chalk board, or calendar and notepad. Keep writing utensils nearby. Let everyone update the calendar as needed so everyone knows what's going on and what to expect every day. Write reminders and notes to each other and keep a shopping list available so everyone can write down what they need. If your board is large enough, have a "wish" list and a "need" list. It's ok to write notes of encouragement for up coming challenges too. If you can, you can also have a quote of the day or week.
What Next List
When the kids were really little, I had a list of pictures hung for mornings, afternoons, and evenings. The morning one had pictures for changing clothes, including underwear, brushing teeth, using the toilet, eating breakfast, etc. The pictures were hung in a logical order so I didn't have to tell them each step of the process or quiz them on whether they did everything or not. All I had to do was to ask them if they did their "list." It gave them more independence and me more sanity. It also helped them to establish a routine.