Somehow getting organised for my big girls to go back to school, sending the twins back to kindy for 2 terms then onto school in term 3, felt just a bit more complicated than the start of last year. Definitely more complicated than the year before.
Obviously when school hits, there's uniforms to look after, a huge amount of lunch prep, after school snacks, where to store bags & stuff, managing homework, keeping track of special dates during term etc. But even before then there is new shoes to get, haircuts, medical checks and psyching up ready for the craziness to begin.
I find during term time I lose myself a bit. The weeks rush past quickly but each day is so intensive & busy and I start forgetting which day is library day & when I need to make sure they are wearing their sports uniforms [which also had to be ordered... a brand new uniform this year]. A pretty organised person myself, being in charge of every detail for a bunch of little ones is like an explosion of responsibility. Thank goodness Miss Georgia Poppy is my wingman & keeps the smaller ones in check. And Miss Charlotte Daisy is sliding into windman role #2 and loves reading our checklist by the door each morning so we don't leave without forgetting hats or something.
Last year we sorted the daily to do list, the weekly schedule, storage of bags/shoes & we got smarter about breakfast cereal. We are still doing all of that now. This year, I didn't really have any grand plans but I did set about doing a few more things before school went back. I ticked a bunch of stuff off my to do list & put a few systems in place to help ME make it through each term.
- Dentist & medical checkups
- Homework cupboard & dealing with school paperwork influx
- Lunch orders
- Term Schedule
First up, the Dentist!
The kids moved over to my dentist this year which is alot more convenient for me. Its at our local shopping centre & I can tack on shopping or top up fresh food at the same time. They had visited Jeffs dentist previously but he likes to avoid the dentist as much as possible so the kids just weren't visiting enough. Now we are on 6 monthly reminders at my dentist so its all sorted.
All the girls had a check & a clean & got good reports [phew!] but Chels had some 'white dots' on her teeth. Not eactly sure how they will turn out or what they are, but the dentist suggested that it could be due to her shaky start in life being on TPN tube feeding for months & all the heart medication etc etc or she may have just been born with white dots. She's never drank soft drink or been a juice drinker & its not decay. Anyway, we watch and see. Poor chicken, she always has something going on! Buddy wouldn't even sit in the dentist chair, but the dentist didn't want to rush him. He's 2, so he might just come along each time and hopefully next time the dentist can get into his mouth! And I have a crown & a new veneer coming up in my near future. Terrific.
Chels also had her annual cardiology & opthomology appointments & got good reports for both. I must remember to get the other kids eye tested again. Haven't been since their age 4 check up! Eek!
Next up I set up the new homework cupboard...
I wrote about how I found this old cupboard & gave it a little makeover back here. For the moment, I'm using it as our homework cupboard and its working really well. Before school started I bought coloured plastic sleeves with a press stud for each of the kids and have put a few pens in each. The big girls who actually have homework got a couple of little exercise books for their spelling tests & writing and I bought all of the kids some of those homework activity type books suitable for their age group. The twins [kindy] have handwriting books, Charlotte [year 2] has a combined maths, science, literacy, writing book and Georgie [year 3] has a few books for literacy, numeracy and writing.
In the cupboard I have stored a couple of older large lunchboxes, one for pens, the other for tape, scissors, stapler, hole punch, rulers etc. and a basket with some of those blank scrapbooks, & a few other activity books, all gathered up from around the house and put into this cupboard. Many have only been half completed. Right now, the big girls do their set homework from the teacher and we fill the gaps with what we have at home so that they do a little of reading, spelling, numeracy and writing, Sunday to Thursday.
In addition to supplies of paper, activity books & stationery, I keep my labeller in here and a roll of contact. So I usually have everything on hand to cover what we might need for homework and more. When the kids come in the door after school, they put their hats in the hat box at the door, bags on the kitchen counter [so I can clean out straight away], pop their shoes away in their baskets [ok, so near the baskets], artwork & reader folders go onto the homework table [need a reminder], then they change out of uniforms.
At the moment we are doing homework immediately after dinner. Its really only the big girls doing homework but I have the packs for all the kids there in case any smaller peeps want to join in. They usually don't want to, preferring to do 'their homework' during the day on the days they are not at kindy. Anyway, its nice to let them have some activities to do that are 'like homework'. It makes them feel important and they are getting into a good habit for later! On the twins library day, I am getting the big girls to read the twins books to the twins as their daily reading. I think its good for all the children to read together.
While the big girls are doing their homework, I can attend to notices, look through artwork & then I'm putting all the artwork straight into the art basket which sits under the homework cupboard. When it gets full, or when I get time, I can go through and select pieces to recycle, to display, to photograph, to use as gift wrap. Its the best system I've had so far.
As per usual, I cut my kids hair ready to go back to go school. I enjoy it, it saves money & I can avoid the hassle of appointments. Nothing much to report here apart from Chelseas hair didn't seem to be sitting right on one side. I couldn't work it out.
Before children, I used to go to the hairdresser for many years [I now cut my own too] and I would watch their technique & how to check length on both sides & how to layer etc etc. With Chels's hair I was just a bit puzzled about her cut. Didn't look quite right. How could I have got it so wrong? Well as part of end of school holidays wrap up, I helped all the kids straighten up their rooms which meant dragging out everything from under their beds & sorting, chucking, donating etc etc... In the twins room under Mimi's bed I found a box! And what was inside? Yep, a large chunk of Chelsea's hair that Amelia had cut off. Doh! That had been the problem. Oh well, its hair and it'll grow back.
Not a very good pic of the kids new haircuts and clearly Buddy did not want any photos taken this evening! Oh well. Record the ordinary along with the not so...
Well, "home lunch orders"! Whilst it would be nice and easier to buy every day, we can't afford it. So lunch from home except for special/emergency/birthday occasions it is. I make lunches fresh every morning while the kids are eating their 20 course breakfast. I don't like eating food prepared day before so I don't expect my kids to eat it either. And because I'm well practiced, now I'm getting quicker putting it all together. I'm like a brain food + recess + lunchtime making machine. Ha ha!
Occasionally I forget that this one prefers celery over cucumber or that this one does not eat cheese etc so before school went back I made them all fill out my little school lunch order survey ticking the items they like. I'm not a restaurant, but I do want to make sure I have the main ingredients on hand so that the kids will eat what goes to school & we minimise wastage. And for the most part they are pretty good at eating most things. Last year, I'd be asking three times, Mimi, do you want this or this.... Choices. Crazy.
So now I have the lunch orders, washi taped to the fridge [above], which not only helps me to check up on something but it helps me decide what to spend our precious dollars on when I do a little top up shop later in the week. We must have apples + celery +cherry tomatoes+ kiwi + ham etc. Or whatever combination.... if I have those things on hand I can cover everything I need.
Being a visual person, I like to be able to see the weeks ahead & not only when the holidays are coming up [woo hoo!] but also when sports day is, when school swimming is on, when the next excursion is happening & how many more weeks until bookweek is here. For example.
I have my diary but its week to an opening and I'm using that for appointments mainly. As I said I want to be able to see the whole term at a glance. So I knocked up a little term schedule & clipped it up right above my computer where I read the school newsletters online. I jot dates as I read, clip up excursion forms & other notices in 'date order' and I feel much more organised about each term. I also plan to re-check important dates each newsletter to avoid being a complete dufus like when this happened.
The spreadsheet I did is a term to a page and it fits Adelaide school dates only. I'm not really in the business of doing or offering printables because I try to use apps wherever I can, or use my diary for appointments but this one really suits term scheduling. You are wlecome to use it if you think it might help you too.
[Interstate peeps if you want my Excel version to change the dates to suit your term, please don't hesitate to get in touch, only to happy to email it.]
So there you go, all organised for the weeks ahead. No doubt by week 5, all systems will be abandoned & we will be operating in a complete state of chaos.
I'm kidding. I'll be a sobbing mess on the floor.
Ok, I'm still kidding. We'll be rocking our systems but no doubt still slipping up here & there.
And thats ok.
Whats your best back to school organisation tip?