LAST week, I went through some tips for parents and children who are starting out in junior infants, but this week I wanted to touch on some of the useful things I now do to make life in the mornings a little less hectic.
I have three ladies in school/pre-school five days a week, in truth I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself having only one small lady to mind in the mornings come September. It will be a big change and I don‘t know how I‘m going to get them all out of bed in time next week, maybe I should start practising that now!
The hallway is the key area in our house that has to function efficiently. I got a set of four box shelves and turned it on its side, added a padded top so now it has become a seat with a hole for a box for each child. In that box then I keep runners, shoes, GAA socks, gum shields, and other random bits like that, that tend to disappear into a vortex if they don’t have somewhere specific to go.
I also keep a few pairs of socks in each box because socks are hard to come by at the best of times in this house, regardless of how often I buy new pairs.
I want to make the mornings run in a way that enables each child to do as much as they can by themselves, it is necessary because I only have one pair of hands myself. It is also important children can do things like put on their own coats, I’m not there to do it for them in school and if they can do it themselves, it makes the teachers’ life a little easier too.
One easy way to facilitate this bit of independence is to ensure they can reach their own coats so I have four low coat hooks that they can reach — simple to do and saves so much time.
We don’t make lunches the night before, my husband is an early riser (thank god because I have to be peeled out of bed usually!) so he makes them first thing.
One thing I do find particularly useful to do in advance though is to prepare the water bottles the night before. Again, like socks, pairs in my house have a habit of not staying together, therefore I find the bottles and matching lids the night before, fill them and leave them in the fridge ready for each school bag in the morning.
I like to do a quick check on the school bags the night before and if there is anything extra needed I add it then.
It is always easier to find the gumshield or the toilet rolls for art the night before and it’s useful to check to see the homework folder and pencil cases are where they should be. I also do a quick check over the uniforms, to make sure they have a full set and that they are clean.
I find my slow cooker so useful, even if it’s just one day a week that I use it, on that extra busy day, it is great. I love doing stews, chicken dinners and bolognaise in mine, search online for recipes (a nice tip is to also search for ‘crockpot recipes’ because that’s what they are called in America). Some meats like mince I tend to fry off first, otherwise the meal can be very watery. That aside, it is the quickest dinner you’ll make, usually you just throw everything in the pot, turn it on and walk away until evening, it really frees up the evening and produces such a tasty meal.
I have an A3 sized chalkboard painted onto my wall and it has space for each day of the week. I write in all and every extra circular class (because, despite doing swimming every Wednesday for years now, I still seem to get caught on the hop some weeks!), play dates, if they have something on in school that week like maybe GAA so they need helmets and hurleys, appointments, all those sort of things for the week ahead.
I used to be terrible at writing lists, or I’d write them and they would disappear into that same vortex the socks and water bottle vanish into! Now, with the large chalkboard, it is so easy to see how the week will work out at just a glance, it has saved me a lot of hassle since I painted that simple black square on the wall.
There is no doubt that the return to school this year will look differently for everyone, some are delighted to have their children go back and others are nervous. For parents and children alike, it has been probably one of the most unusual times in many of our lives to experience this pandemic as a collective.
Do your best to keep up the good practises we have become accustomed to, washing and sanitizing hands, wear your mask where required, keep your contacts low and keep your social distance.
If we all play our part, we are giving children the best opportunity to get back to school in as safe a way as possible.
I only have one pair of hands myself. It is also important children can do things like put on their own coats, I’m not there to do it for them in school.