I love my summer--I really do. I love sleeping in (this love is not reserved for the summer, though); I love staying up late; I love the relaxed pace; I love calling all the shots; I love summer.
I love my routine as well ... maybe even more. And when August rolls around and school starts back up, I'm ready to get my family back into a routine once again. Here are five things I do that really help our school year start off right and same my sanity by bringing routine back to reign in our house once again.
1. H Day and B Day: Our big wall calendar that hangs by the garage door for all to see as we leave the house every single day has, for all intents and purposes, become obsolete. Brian and I have synched our phones with our work calendars and our google calendars, but we leave this calendar up to keep the peace in the house. Every single day is marked with either an H for Daughter 1 or a B for Daughter 2. All it took was a pen (actually a pink pen and a blue pen) and a calendar. Easy.
When The Daughters ask those tough questions--Who sits in the front seat today? Who picks out the Redbox tonight? Who has to do the extra chore? Who gets to lick the cake batter bowl?--we go to the calendar.
Oh! It's an H Day or a B Day. That person gets the honor, for better or worse, and there are no arguments. The calendar always rules.
2. The Chore Chart: The chore chart never changes. If it's your day (see the schedule just above here), you will sweep the kitchen floor tonight. There is no discussion.
It's framed, so there's no, "Whoops! The chore chart got wet; we can't read it." It's hanging in the kitchen, so there's no, "Where'd the chore chart go?" It's unchanging so there's no, "What? That was today? I didn't know."
Sure, it took Momma a while to get ahead of the game with this, but with a print out from the computer and a frame from the dollar store, it's game on now.
3. School/Crap Box: A million and one grey hairs: That's how long it took me to figure this one out. I don't do morning and because (until this school year), Brian was on a much earlier schedule, the morning routine/attitude fell to me. Yes, I know. It was disasterous. We'd barely get ready on time then we'd have to find all the crapola that we needed for school, after school, sports, etc...
We now have two boxes (one for each daughter) that sit on our fireplace mantle. The girls dump all of their crap in there every day when they come home from school. They get homework out and then put it back in the box. Their empty (for the most part) lunch boxes get chunked into the box as well. Then, in the mornings when we're running out the door three minutes after we should be running out the door, they just grab their crap from the box and go. There's no gathering anything because it's all right there.
4. Cutsie Clipboards: Back in the day when I neglected my home and family in order to scrapbook (now I'm negligent in order to write), I modge podged (What? It's a verb.) a couple of cute clipboards for The Daughters. They are marked with their names and they hang just underneath the above-mentioned calendar. When The Daughters bring home notices from school that require mine or Brian's attention--such as Pickles, Popcorn and Candy day, or a need for money--such as Picture Day or yearbook orders, or a signature--such as field trip forms or any of the other 4,261 forms we have to sign the first week of school, they clip those notices on their clipboards. Brian and I deal order, write checks, sign or whatever needs to be done and put the paperwork in their above mentioned school boxes. If it's not on the clipboard, it doesn't get Momma's and Daddy's attention. It's a great system. I wish everyone who needed a piece of me had a clipboard.
5. Today's Chef Plate: The Daughters (and Brian, too!) each have a day a week to be the chef. They plan the meal and cook it all themselves and clean up. This helps them understand that cooking is hard work but fun, and Momma doesn't try to cook crap they won't eat, despite the latest household polls. I'm with them in the kitchen when they do this. It's not like I'm sitting in the recliner, eating Taco-flavored Doritos watching reruns of Friends. Usually, I'm checking Facebook. I kid! I kid! Mostly.
To make it a super big fancy deal, I bought a one dollar plate and dug out some scrapbooking stickers and made a "Today's Chef" plate. With dry erase marker, we announce, on the plate, the day's chef. It's totally for show, but it sure does make it fun for them to be a chef.
And speaking of dry erase markers ... did you know you can write on mirrors and class with those markers and it will just wipe off? This is a fun way to give messages, reminders and draw funky faces for your kids in the mornings. But, since I'm not a morning person, I usually do this after midnight the night before...