I WOULD love to say that I am one of those mothers that has the school book list sorted by the end of June and the uniforms steamed and ready to go by the end of July, but I am not. I have yet to even dig out the books from June that were dumped into a cupboard, let alone think about ordering any books or sorting uniforms.
I have a checklist in my head that probably needs to go down onto paper so I can start to tick off the long list of items I have to get through. I think perhaps the older the girls get and the more used I am to the whole back to school debacle every year, the less I stress about it.
I love the return to routines, I think most of us do, the summer is wonderfully chaotic and thankfully my ladies are old enough now for that to be on the more enjoyable end of chaotic. It does take me a few weeks to get back into routine come September, it is not so much the back to school that gets me, it is the return to after-school activities that sends me over the edge some days.
For the first few weeks, I lean heavily on my slow cooker. I absolutely love it; aside from the obvious ease with which is cooks food, it makes meat like beef and chicken so lovely to eat and food is so much tastier when it’s been stewing all day long. Another plus is that if you are not able to get to sit together for dinner, a slow cooker is a great way to organise a meal so that people can pull out of it at different stages throughout the evening.
The bright evenings really throw me, one minute we are eating dinner and the next minute it is 8pm.
We start to readjust the bedtimes a few weeks before school starts. Most of mine are early risers anyway, apart from me, so I don’t have to worry about getting anyone other than myself geared up for the mornings.
I try to keep their eating habits around the school day routine, mainly because otherwise they would eat me out of house and home.
My favourite part of getting ready for back to school is the labelling! I make all the stickers for the girls myself in the Cricut, which is very handy. For younger children, my top labelling tip is to put an image on their labels alongside their names, it makes it much easier for those who are just learning how to read to be able to recognise their own items in a hurry.
Before the younger children head back to school, it is useful to do a double check and make sure they can open their lunchboxes and bottles themselves, that they can manage jackets, laces, that sort of thing. You can encourage this the whole summer long by letting them get dressed themselves while time is on your side and getting them to help with little jobs around the house. Encouraging independence is so important, and useful!
To make sure we manage the after-school activities, I have a large drawer dedicated to soccer, GAA and athletics, so all socks, shinpads, boots, spikes and helmets go in there after training session or the wash. For things like swimming and horse riding, I have separate bags for each child and each activity, all clearly labelled. It means for activities like swimming there is no fighting or searching for goggles and hats as we are racing out the door and it has made life with three in a whole host of different activities a lot easier to manage.
I have a girl going into second class and this will only be her second full year of school without remote learning and may well be the first that resembles life as we know it before Covid. (I know we’re not technically over it yet but a definite sense of normality has returned without doubt). Schools might reintroduce new systems again when it comes to dropping children at the school gate, or lunchtimes may not be staggered anymore, so it’s worth having a little chat to the younger children to reassure them that change is good and manageable.
If they have any worries, be sure to encourage them to tell you them and validate their feelings while reassuring them too.
Here’s to an enjoyable few more weeks of freedom!