The start of the school year is always hectic. It's only now that I feel like we're getting into a rhythm. For various reasons (which seemed good at the time), this year we have 3 different locations for schools and daycare, an increase in after-school activities, plus a new job for me. Needless to say it's taken me a little longer than usual to get the routine down.
Mornings in particular can be utter chaos, especially when we need to wrangle 3 kids out the door on time. For us to gain some semblance of order (and for me to avoid shouting) we need military precision.
So how do we do it?
Just like at school, the kids each have a ‘locker’ at home. School bags, homework folders, library bags etc are all kept in their locker. That way we’re not searching the house for a missing library bag just before school. And if things happen to actually make their way into the lockers instead of getting dumped on the floor in front of the lockers, it's a bonus! Do a search for 'kids mudroom' and you'll have plenty of ideas.
2. Make the kids responsible
My kids are 3, 5 and 7yrs old. With the eldest 2 now at school, we have to keep track of a plethora of in-school and after-school activities – sport, library, music etc. It is their job to make sure their bag is packed with the necessary items for that day. To help them out, we have a weekly schedule of their activities on the wall. It’s a mystery why my kids can remember mummy said a ‘naughty’ word or an upcoming birthday party but can’t for the life of them remember that their homework pouch goes back to school on the same day every week.
If given the option between preparing the night before or waking up early, I’ll pick an extra 15 minutes sleep every time. The kids’ lunch bags are packed the night before for them to grab from the fridge in the morning. Ideally the kids would pack their school bag the night before, but this is still a work in progress. The nights that I pick up the kids late, we’ve usually packed leftovers to reheat for a quick dinner as soon as we get home, or I grab some sushi for the kids to eat in the car on the way home.
4. Family calendar
Our family’s life is on my google calendar. I’m a tad anally retentive, so each family member has their own colour, each event has as much detail as possible (time, location, contact person etc), and tasks have due dates with alarms. I’ve shared the calendar with my husband to ensure that we don’t have any clashes in scheduling and we know who is doing what for the next day. And finally after a year, he has actually started using it!
Now by no means am I suggesting that you need these things in your life. Everyone has their own method and comfort level when it comes to chaos (mine is set to very low). These are just some of the ways we manage to get out the door on time. But if I am to be completely honest, my easiest mornings are when I'm out of the house at 6.30am for work and leave my husband on kid duty (his chaos meter is set much higher than mine).
What are your strategies for calming the chaos?