Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to school brain dump - 4 strategies to get us ready

Wasn't it just in May that we were planning everything we would do this summer? Only to get to July and be disgruntled because time wasn't slowing down to let us check activities from our list?

Nevertheless, here we are...again. One week left. One week before Yogli spends his last year in high school. One week before Hummingbird flutters off to be a 2nd grader. No matter how I toss it, shape it, smack it, flip it down, school starts in a week. I am usually excited about school starting back but gotta admit, I will miss hanging out past 8:30 pm during a week night. It won't take much for us to get back to our routines though. Our household runs quite well on things built around routines and structure. Routines like bedtime have never been a problem for us. Hummingbird has always had an internal clock that shuts down no later than 9 pm each night. Yogli, even for a teen, has good sleeping habits.

Still though, there are certain areas that we have focused on as we get prepared for back to school. This isn't your typical list, where I tell you my favorite back to school products or me telling you what time to put your kids to bed. This is me sharing some things that have worked for us, some food for thought, maybe things you can incorporate or tweak for your household. Basically, me doing a brain dump on some of our back to school strategies. 

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Hummingbird's school gives parents the option to dress their kids in uniforms. It's not mandatory, but they favor it and so do I. We tried it last year and will be doing it again this year. Hummingbird wears uniforms Monday through Thursday, on Fridays, I let her pick out her own clothes. This cuts down on the "what to wear" tug of war. 

My clothing strategy involves purchasing uniforms during the summer months at discount shops and buying from Old Navy during their annual uniform sale usually held in July. Buying during the summer months helps my sanity because I know that everyone will be rushing towards the end of July/first of August. Here in Georgia, there are tax free weekends, usually held the weekend before school starts. I have no plans on attending that frenzy. I also refuse to pay full price for anything, so these early summer sales come in handy. The short sleeve polo shirts can be worn during the winter months by adding a long sleeved tee shirt underneath. Add some leggings to the skirts and dresses, and you're good for the winter. 

Part of our clothing routine is to iron all clothes for the week on Sundays. I put a hanging clothes organizer in Hummingbird's closet, it has 7 sections for the 7 days of the week. This helps to make her responsible for getting herself ready in the mornings. My next task is to show her how to iron, further helping her to be more organized and responsible. I am moving the ironing board and iron from my bedroom into the hallway upstairs so that everyone can be responsible for their clothes getting ironed. 

**This clothing strategy is specific to Hummingbird only. Teenage Yogli does his own thing where clothing is concerned, that's a whole other blog post!

 photo back2_zpscb110438.pngWe buy school supplies during the end of the school year. This way, we stock up for even lower prices. There are generic items the kids will always need, like filler paper, glue sticks (I think they may be eating those, they disappear way too fast), and pencils. We keep all supplies in 2 rolling carts (each with 3 pull out drawers). This way, nobody can ever say they don't have what they need (you know they still say that, right?). We wait until the Hummingbird's Meet & Greet, usually held the Thursday before school starts back, to purchase teacher specific items. For high school students, we wait until they get their syllabus. This can be frustrating. Last year, all of Yogli's teachers wanted certain kinds of binders. Of course, school is underway at this point and Wal-Mart and others are (a) out of binders and refuse to restock or (b) have jacked the price way up because school is underway.
Another school supply tactic is getting a boat load of supplies from MonkeyMan's parents. They usually load up from the Naval base (his dad is retired military) and we pick up the goods in November during the Thanksgiving holidays. 

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We've decided to let Hummingbird take her lunch to school this year (pray for me, fam!). It seems as though we were wasting money last year by paying for school lunches because she would rarely eat the actual food. School cafeteria food is very different from when I was in school. Most of it is unrecognizable and they allow kids to purchase additional items, usually desserts and juices. So, with the help of Pinterest, I have gathered some ideas as to what will comprise these lunches. Hummingbird is under the impression that she will be taking sandwiches everyday. Not. This will take some careful planning on my part but I am willing, stay tuned for more on this subject. 

Got some push back from Yogli already about this. He was little disheartened when he heard that Hummingbird would be taking her lunch this year. He addressed this to me a couple of weeks ago by saying how he remembers how he used to take his lunch at that age but my inconsistency as a parent made that short lived. Ha! My response, "please give me the honor of packing your lunch during your senior year of high school". MonkeyMan chimed in with "yeah, we can pick you out the latest cartoon character lunch bag". 

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Keeping all of the school papers and homework organized used to be a struggle for me. Last year, I used paper trays for each kid. That worked well but it cluttered up our bar stool area. To, hopefully, avoid the clutter, I've put together a kitchen command center. I decided that the hallway near the kitchen was the spot because it's kind of out of the way but still noticeable. Nothing too fancy, I like the way "kitchen command center" sounds. I searched Pinterest for ideas and there were tons of them. I didn't get overwhelmed with the pics of perfection because I knew our command center needed to be practical for us. We've got our calendar, with a corkboard to pin important papers, like the school calendar. I used an old picture frame, added some cork and the magnetic calendar. I added a magnet strip to stick the pencil cup to the bottom. We've also got some colorful dry erase markers for some added pop! I am into color coding, so the markers will be instrumental in me plotting out dental appointments, Yogli's work schedule and other important dates. Each kid has a fill folder (will use my label maker to put their names on them) that I mounted to the wall, these were a great find at the local Goodwill for $2.49.

Here's the finished product:

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Kinda excited to see how we make this work this year, more to come. 

So, you can see that back to school prep is year round for us. This way, we're rarely caught off guard and everybody knows what to expect.

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  1. Sooooooo.... your kitchen command center freaking ROCKS! It looks amazing, wish I had space to do the same. My Honeybun is entering 2nd grade and last year, I used expandable files to organize her things, but there is just so much stuff. Kudos to you for being so organized... I love to get an early start as well! I hate the last minute rush.

    1. Thanks pinkcandyandstilettos! Space was our problem, our kitchen is kinda small. Hoping we can make it work this entire school year. Maybe we can swap 2nd grade stories, my daughter starts on Monday.

  2. You guys got it going on Tiffany. You have it down to a science.

    I am totally pro-uniform. I like their relaxed policy - but I think everybody should have to wear a uniform. Let's get the expensive kicks - clothes horse pageants out of schools. I'm all about focusing on the learning aspect - which seems to get watered down in all the muck that goes on.


    Thanks so much for these awesome working tips! I'm pinning this very informative post on our Mommy Monday Pinterest Board.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I agree, clothing in schools these days seems like a contest. Would like to see more schools adopt a uniform policy.
      Awesome, thanks for posting to the Mommy Monday board, which I am now following!!!

  3. I need a command center, or at least a designated place to throw in the bazillion papers my 1st grader will bring from school. Great idea, simple and practical!

    1. Yes, the paperwork is a job in itself!I looked at several things on Pinterest but knew our kitchen wasn't big enough. So far, our lil practical center is working.

  4. That is awesome! And I love the little command center, I homeschool, and something like that would definitely come in handy. Also love the idea with the little 3 drawer carts...I might have a couple of them laying around. I am so glad though that I no longer have to worry about the whole dressing thing...mine can attend in their PJ's if they like. :) Thanks so much for stopping by and linking up with This Momma's Meandering Mondays, hope to see you again! Have a fabulous week!

    1. Thanks, Stacey! So far so good, 1st week is down and it seems like a gazillion more to go!

  5. I like the way you think. I am obsessed with getting our own "command center". I have a 1st & 5th grader & the papers they bring home are about to drive me insane. They are all over my kitchen table in the napkin holder on the counters...YIKES!
    Anyway, I have been all over Pinterest & Youtube checking out what others have done, but yours is by far may favorite! The only thing different I am planning on adding to mine are 2 clipboards on the wall where their homework or "need to do now" papers will be.
    Your center is simple and cute... just love it!