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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adrienne Patterson: New Resident Advice Columnist...

While home school might be a daily adventure for me I am not sure it garners quite enough entertainment value to blog about each week.  So in an effort not to add boring to the list of adjectives used to describe Beth’s amazing blog I am going to branch out a little. 

If you know me, or have read any of the things I have written on Momsie then you are well aware that I am not in the running for parent of the year.  In fact I might be more fit for the race of which parent can send their kids to the therapist couch first!  But amidst my failures, mistakes, mishaps and embarrassing moments I have managed to birth 3 amazing daughters and make a bit of headway in bringing them up fairly decently.  As any mom who has survived a particular stage in childrearing you come out feeling like a hero.  Not based on how well you parented during that time but based on the fact that you are still standing at the end of it!  Regardless of how you faired the storm you can now be the one who says, “been there, done that” and pass along fair warning or good advice to your fellow moms heading down that path.  So in that vein I will spend some time just sharing what I have learned in my nearly 8 years of parenting. 

On my mind today are all us mom’s getting back into the school routine.  While I am home schooling my oldest my younger two are still going to school (Kindergarten and 3K) so I am still one of the many dreading fixing lunches, homework, early mornings and car pool lines.  As many of you are heading back soon, or like me, have just completed the first full week we are quickly reminded of how lazy and slow moving we became over the summer.  Suddenly alarms are blaring in our ear at ungodly hours of the morning and we are struggling to wake up irritable munchkins and attempt to dress, feed and prod them out the door all before 8 am!!  Definitely not enjoyable but there are a few things I have learned that might make your mornings a little bit easier…

1.   Do as much as you can the night before or even a whole week in advance!!  I know that might sound crazy but last year in the midst of fighting my oldest about clothes and lunches I decided that I needed to take the bull by the horns.  Each Sunday evening we would pick out all of her clothes for the week and lay them out.  We were each allowed to pick outfits (ensuring she would NOT wear the ratty Hello Kitty Tee more than once a week!!) and then as for what day she wore what that was up to her (this little bit of freedom went a LONG way!).  If you can’t manage a whole week at least do it the night before.  Same was true for lunches.  While I would prepare the main dish (aka cold sandwich or Luncheable) I would empty all our snacks, juiceboxes, yogurts etc. into bowls or areas of the fridge where the kids could easily reach them and their job while I fixed breakfast was to fill up the rest of their lunchbox.  Again, they love some responsibility and the feeling that they are in charge of their own lunch AND it keeps them busy while you fix breakfast!

2.   Get up at least 20 minutes before the kids.  This one really stinks but it is so well worth it!  I have found that our mornings go so much more smoothly if I have had a few quiet moments to myself to get my coffee ready, pray and just wake up.  On the mornings when I have hit the snooze one too many times I find myself having to rush, which is truly impossible if you have children because the word ‘hurry’ actually translates to ‘slow down, become uncoordinated, forgetful and distracted’ in kid language.  It’s much better to have had those few minutes to yourself so that your smile at carline is genuine not that plastered on smile that says…”we fought all the way here, I’m wearing sunglasses b/c I am already in tears and it’s not even 9:00 yet, I wish they could come to school 40 hours a week!”

3.   Have a routine!  I cannot say this enough when it comes to kids.  While they may complain they actually thrive in a routine because it is predictable and familiar.  Find a routine that works for you and stick with it so that the morning flows smoothly.  Some school morning routines in our house include no TV, not coming downstairs until you are fully dressed and having extra toothbrushes downstairs so that they can brush and head straight out the door.  Anything that you can set in place that prevents chaos in the morning is worth the effort!!

4.   Plan your breakfast meals.  My older girls prefer a pretty big breakfast so I can’t really get away with granola bars or pop tarts.  While I struggled for a while with this I finally found a few things that allowed me a few more minutes of sleep and provided my kids with a decent breakfast.  Usually one or two nights a week I will pre-make some breakfast items, some great ones are muffins, biscuits or cinnamon rolls make the night before (just store them in a gallon zip bag and warm them up the next morning), whip up pancake or waffle batter the night before so all you have to do the next morning is pour it in the pan.  You can also precut some fruit, keep instant oatmeal on hand, as well as yogurt and the yogurt drinks and cereal is a no brainer (IF your kids will eat it).

5.  Go through and organize backpacks the night before.  I know this should be common sense but when you have little ones who don’t necessarily have homework every night you don’t always think about their backpacks.  But I can’t tell you how many mornings I have opened it up only to discover that they did indeed have some type of assignment or the teacher sent a note home asking for me to send in a white tee shirt for their special craft that day.  (Seriously I thought it was going to just be full of macaroni noodle crafts and some scribbles they called coloring!)  Get in the habit of emptying the book bag right when they walk in the door and have it ready to go for the next morning.  (Side note: I don’t allow my kids to open their bookbags in the car on the way home from school.  Mean and anal?  Nope, it just never fails that in their excitement to show me that macaroni craft the permission slip for tomorrow’s field trip falls under the seat!

I hope that my first round of advice is helpful as you navigate the day with your little ones, no matter where you are headed.  I want to pass on anything helpful that I can so lets start with some things that are on your mind.  Having trouble getting your child to sleep?  Looking for ways to entertain your children in the car?  Not sure how to introduce your kids to the idea of volunteering?  I want to know which topics you would like advice on so send us an email at: momsiecharlotte@gmail.com.  (Label the subject as: "advice") We will let you know when your question will be answered so you can make sure to check back for some tips!  Stay tuned each week as I dole out my best advice, one mother to another!

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