Happy Monday, friends!
Let me start by saying that this week is our last official week of summer, so I’m taking just a bit of time off to hang with that family of mine. I WILL be blogging MWF this week, so come on back every other day please 🙂 .
Today, I’ve decided to start a new series where we do a Q&A over certain topics. When I did my Q&A Part 1 and Part 2 about two months ago, I loved the interaction and thought it would be even more fun to streamline the topics into one…thus, our first one today!
BACK TO SCHOOL!
(Insert me sobbing right here.)
We have one full week left, and as much as I want to deny it…it’s happening. #boohoo
Last week, I posted on Instagram and asked for people to ask me any sort of question related to back to school. Friends, I was overwhelmed with the response! Holy cow! I went through and read them all, and then started screen-shotting certain questions that pertained to certain topics (because so many of the questions fell into the same category as other ones). I don’t know why, but the weirdo in me loves a Q&A. I love learning random things about people and especially when it comes to their routines/lifestyle. So, ready or not, here we go…it’s time for back to school. #stillsobbing
Sometimes! My big kids do their homework independently and then I help Ashby with hers, but sometimes, they’ll help too. Typically, it’s reading together.
During the school year? I make at least two a week. Sometimes though, I’ll use the slow cooker to assist me in a meal. So, instead of the entire meal being prepared in there, I’ll just use it during the day to poach my chicken to be used that night in another meal. Make sense? If you count that, then I bet I pull my slow cooker out at least three times a week.
Different things! I would say that Kensington struggles with “I loved last year, I loved my teacher, I loved my classroom, I loved who was in my class” stuff. I think she always gets settled into her class/routine and then gets a little melancholy when it’s time for something new. Of course, she always settles into the new after awhile though. Smith struggles with waking up. I love Smith. Smith is amazing. Smith is always the easiest, calmest, most easy-going kid. Unless he has to wake up early. He is not happy to wake up early in the morning…so that becomes a struggle. Oh, he comes downstairs when I ask him to…but he isn’t exactly pleasant most mornings about it. Right now, Ashby is so happy go lucky that I don’t think she struggles with anything. I attribute that to her age and overall “easy going-ness”. I’m sure she’ll reach an age when she does have worries/fears/anxieties about starting a new school year, but so far, she hasn’t shown signs of that.
We have altered and changed that over the years based on their ages and what they eat. Last year, we implemented some new things. One, I started sending my big three to school every single day with something hot. They either had leftovers or I would get creative and find things that I could heat up and put in their thermoses. You guys actually talked me through this, and it really revolutionized our year! I felt like my kids came home from school every day much less hungry because they ate more for lunch.
Here are the things you taught me about this: First, buy these thermoses. Then, boil water that morning and place it in each thermos for 10 minutes (I would make breakfast, empty the dishwasher, etc. while it was sitting). Next, heat food and then place hot food in the hot thermos (it’s hot because you just had boiling water in there). Finally add to the lunch box. You guys also encouraged me to use Costco and Trader Joe’s for frozen items that I could heat up and place in there. For instance, orange chicken and/or fried rice from TJ was a huge hit! It made enough for each kid to have it twice in one week. I know that probably sounds like a lot of work, but honestly, I had it down to such a science that I never even noticed I was doing it in the morning as I drank my own coffee and did other chores in the kitchen. I think the key is being prepared! I always knew before bed what I would put in there the next day. And again, it’s great for leftovers!
Now, I added the thermos, but last year, I realized that they needed to be packing everything else. Even Madeley was able to pack her own lunch. Immediately, when my kids come in from school, they emptied their backpacks and lunchboxes and then filled them with the “other stuff” for the next day (string cheese, a bag of chips, trail mix, yogurt, etc). This way, the next morning, all I did was add the thermos and they were ready to go.
The second semester last year, Ashby asked if she could eat what the cafeteria was serving…and SHE LOVED IT! She ate lunch at school every single day from there on out and can’t wait to do it again this year. I think it gives her a sense of being independent and a “big girl”. Plus, she is my most adventurous eater, so she loves the variety each day.
The older they get, the more independent they become. I get their breakfast ready before they wake up, but then after that, they eat, clean up breakfast, get themselves dressed, pick up their room, do their homework and stuff all on their own. They know how much time they have and our mornings have such a rhythm that they know when they should be doing what. Kensington wakes herself up with an alarm…Smith does not. (See above question about their struggles…)
I feel like that’s us too!! Everything I make is EASY! I make a lot of things in my slow cooker or easy skillet-type suppers. To see all of my slow cooker recipes, click HERE and then to see all of my entree recipes, click HERE. At this point, we still really try and make an effort to eat dinner together every night…so, sometimes, that means we’re eating at 4:30 and other times, 8:00. I would say about once a week, that doesn’t work out, so I try and make something in the slow cooker on those nights to make it easier for everyone.
8:00 to 3:00 🙂
I kind of feel like ours is too! We find out about three days before (the day before our “Meet the Teacher” night).
I have to refocus after summer so that my work hours shift back to ending at 2:50 every day. In the summer, I take a few hours each day to do something fun with the kids (like go swimming), so I work longer on those days (until 5 or 6), but during the school year, I try realllllllly hard to start my day super early and then be wrapped up by 2:50 (just in time to get them from school). Now, sometimes, that doesn’t work out, but I really try hard to make it happen.
Oh let’s talk about snacks first. I have some friends that do amazing, creative, super healthy and filling snacks…I considered it for a hot minute, but then realized that’s probably just not going to work out for us. Realistically, I have bins in my pantry stocked with things from Costco like trail mix, protein bars, granola bars, gold fish crackers, rice rollers and such. They grab something from there when they get home. For breakfast, it’s a variety. Sometimes, I do waffles (we love Van’s the most!) with Nutella or PB on top, scrambled eggs some mornings, turkey bacon breakfast sandwiches from Costco sometimes, and sometimes, it’s cereal. It’s random.
I sat here and thought about this for a minute and then realized, Smith is my only kid who wears socks! Hahaha! None of my girls wear socks (and neither do I!). Smith and Andrew wear black “no show” socks that all look the same, so I don’t match them.
They are a great quality, but to me, nothing says “back to school” like a fresh new backpack for the year. It’s just something nice we do as a family. They love to pick one out that represents their year, and I love to see how they change. One year, they want princesses on there and the next, they’re too big for that.
Yes, but I don’t have to think much about it. Their shorts can’t be too short, no spaghetti straps, etc….it’s not super strict, so I don’t really ever have to think about it.
Let me start by saying, homework at the elementary level in our school district is different with each school. Some schools in our city have a “no homework” policy and then others, have some or a lot. I really don’t know where our school stands…probably we would be considered one that has “some”. All of the homework at every grade level is given on either Friday or Monday and then should be returned one week later. So, that really gives the kids time to do it at their convenience (since it’s not due the next day). Typically, it’s enough homework for maybe four (20 minute or so) sessions. Last year, I got tired of my kids complaining that after school they couldn’t stay and play at the park (we walk home and it’s between the school and our house) or that they had to come right home and do it before their extracurricular activities (so that they didn’t have to do it right before bed), so I told them that we would start doing it in the morning and get it over with. I used to wake my kids up and let them be a little lazy in the morning. They lingered over breakfast, watched a minute of TV and then got dressed. Now, they get up, eat (no TV), get dressed and have a full 30 minutes to do homework. If they don’t have any (or have already completed it), they can read. Our mornings MUCH IMPROVED!!! In fact, our whole day did! Now, I know that this doesn’t work for most people (because homework is so different) and won’t work for us long (because in middle school, they’ll have daily homework that is due the next day and takes much longer), but for us, for right now, this is working. My kids fussed at first, but it didn’t take them long to realize that getting it done in the morning was way better then after school. Now, after I pick them up, we can play at the park or they have some “chill” time between school and activities.
Kensington will be in 5th grade (which is the last year of elementary school here), Smith will be in 4th grade, Ashby will be in 1st grade and Madeley will be in Pre-K. You have to be five by September 1 to start kinder here and Madeley doesn’t turn five until October 19.
Pottery Barn!! Last year and this year, Smith bought Under Armour which worked out well too, but other than that, it’s been all Pottery Barn and they’re fantastic!
THEM!!! I love having them at home. I love being in the car with them and hearing them all talk. Now, do we have hard days? Yes! Do they drive me nuts sometimes? Of course! But one of these days, they’re all going to grow up and leave me, so I really try and cherish every moment I have with them. It’s always so weird to send them back and hear the silence. Now, that being said, it’s also so lovely to walk through Hobby Lobby alone in the fall 😉 .
I think having a great relationship with the people at your school is key. I have loved the administrators and teachers at my kids’ school, and they have helped us as a family tremendously over the years as we’ve handled/faced/dealt with things.
Kensington has been the only kiddo who, at a younger age, got really nervous and shy about starting school. I’m hoping we handled it okay (it doesn’t bother her now), but we always reassured her that her teachers were excited about her being in their class, that she was going to have so much fun, that every year she gets nervous and that every year, she loves it. And of course, we prayed for her. Praying with her and for her really help too.
They do! I don’t remember exactly when I stopped picking it for them…but at some point, they just started picking it out, and we go with it. The only time I chime in is when it’s 90 degrees outside and someone walks down dressed for winter…or when it’s 35 outside and someone comes down in shorts and flip flops. Why oh why do they do that?
That’s hard, mama!!! I would say that you should let the teachers lead the way. If the teacher is taking kiddos at the door and wanting you to head back to the car, then do it. I think those teachers are brilliant when it comes to stuff like this and know exactly what to do on the first day, so trust their judgement.
Madeley started a new school in January that is nut-free (a first for us), so that changed up her routine just a little. M loves to make her own lunch. She almost always includes a bag of gold fish, yogurt, a cheese stick, applesauce and then some sort of turkey/ham thing (sometimes, a sandwich, a wrap or even by itself). I help her with the protein part, but she loves assembling the rest.
YES!! I think this helps us all transition into the school routine. I won’t put the pumpkins out in my house until Labor Day weekend, but I sure will start burning apple spice candles, making “heartier” foods instead of everything being off the grill, and we’ll swim less (mostly because our activities all start back up!).
I love changing what we eat, what our house smells like and of course, adding pumpkins and making the place look like “fall”. My mom always did this growing up, and it really does transition you from one season to the next. We’ll eat soups and heartier meals, I’ll burn pumpkin or apple spice candles and life will just feel like “back to school”.
Realistically, my kids can wear their summer clothes through September. Smith doesn’t like me to back to school shop for him until the weather changes, so I won’t. We’ll do that sometime in October, so that he can have new jeans and long sleeve shirts. The girls all like to get a few things to kick off the year. I try and keep things transitional…so lighter fabrics but in “fall” colors that they can continue wearing with layers as the weather turns. Kensington loves sweaters. She’ll wear one in August. Ha!
I have a post on our morning routine! You can see it HERE. My secret? Prep, prep, prep!
We leave to take the kids to school at 7:45, so I wake them up at 6:30. They eat from 6:30 to about 6:50 and then they have until 7:15 to get ready. At 7:15, I like them all back in the kitchen doing their homework or reading until we leave at 7:45. Sometimes, this works beautifully. Sometimes, we’re a hot, screaming mess.
I am not good at this. I basically throw away everything. I hate having papers lying around. Each year, we take 3 to 4 special art projects and frame them to hang upstairs in our living room. We take lots of pictures of artwork that comes home so that it’s on our phone and then we hang up on the fridge, my office, their rooms other sentimental things…but I don’t have a great system.
Old Navy is my fave!
I try and do as much as I can before they get home! I use my slow cooker all.the.time., I have the ingredients washed, sitting out, ready to go…I have a plan. So, if I prep beforehand, and have their schedule in mind, I can make dinner and we can eat somewhere in the mix. After school time can either be really easy or super crazy…I feel like it’s always one of the two.
Our school loves volunteers! Last year, I volunteered in Ashby’s classroom once a week and I also had weekly “lunch duty” (where parents are there to help the teachers open packages, manage the kids, keep things as easy as possible, etc.). I also helped with one field trip and then a handful of other things (parties, the carnival, Field Day, etc.). Our school and principal ask for parent participation all the time, so Andrew and I jump in when possible. As far as lunch guests go, kids can have them any day after the first two weeks of school (because they want kids to get settled into the routine) and on state testing days. Other than that, parents are always welcome to come have lunch.
Prep as much as I can the night before. It really does make a huge difference for us.
I always have good intentions about getting them back into their bedtime routine for school, but I typically fail.
Whew! I could have kept going, but I think I’ll stop right there for now.
Okay, I want to hear all your thoughts on back to school! Now that you’ve had a peek into our life, give me a little look at yours too! Happy Monday, friends!