I get this question. Lots. “How do you get five kids ready for school? Every day?”
Nobody said anything about a shower. Kellie, this one’s for you.
Just know that I was not this on top of things when I had one in school, two littles at home and one in the oven. We’ve adapted and grown over time. I’ve figured out my kids’ temperaments and my tolerance level for crazy. For the record, it’s pretty low.
- Do the work the night before. Yes, you’ve heard it one billion times, so let’s make it one billion and one, shall we? I don’t think it matters whether you homeschool, private school or public school, when you don’t get your gear in order the night before it makes for a less stressful morning. Make lunches, have the kids lay out their clothes, get folders signed, have breakfast items ready – do it all. Homeschooling moms, do you agree? Please say you do or you’re blowing my whole theory here.
- Be the mom, not the maid. That’s a mantra in our house. If you have older children, say five and up, put them to work. Have them clear the table, load the dishwasher, tie a sibling’s shoes, carry a backpack to the car, pour the cereal. Whatever. But don’t do it all yourself. Your kids have to (and need to!) learn that they are responsible, capable human beings. Initially it might take a little longer (and some days I crack and do it for them) but the dividends will pay big-time down the road.
- Have a place for everything. Four years ago we installed the ingenius hook system. It has saved my life. And I’m not even kidding. Backpacks and jackets get hung up and school shoes placed beneath. Everyone has their own “hook” and we placed it right by our garage door. That way, things don’t get strung all over the house. In addition, we have a filing system on the homework desk. Each kid has his/her own file to place homework or syllabi in for later in the week. It helps to manage the paper clutter. Because let’s be honest, that can be the death of most moms. Death by school papers.
- Establish a routine. We assign the kids each a day for certain chores. Mondays, Will is responsible for setting/clearing the table, loading the dishwasher and pouring the milk/juice. Tuesdays those responsibilities move to the next child and so on. Warning: this system also comes with sass, bellyaching and whining. I’ve also found that a box of Clorox wipes and a finger directing them toward the nearest bathroom for toilet duty helps. Significantly.
- Take the day off sometimes. Some mornings you just don’t have it together. You’re yelling at the kids to get moving. The baby woke up twelve times. Somebody’s sick. Or, you know, it’s Monday and you’re just not having it. Cut yourself some slack momma. Not everyday will be kittens and rainbows.
- Employ a little Love & Logic. I took the parenting class last spring and it has revolutionized our morning routine. I hope that’s not too dramatic. Scott is usually the drop-off man for school and I tend to Luke. If the kids are dragging tail and a few minutes of lateness doesn’t affect our schedules, we don’t stress. We say, “We’ll leave when you’re ready.” That doesn’t happen too often. A few days of being late really got under their skin. On the days time does matter, we have a consequence later in the day. Say they want to play with friends or be on time to basketball practice. Oh man, that’s a bummer.
What do you do to simplify the mornings?