It began again, as it does every year, Back-to-School! I’m the mom that is not ready at all and 100% ready at the same time. I’m typically not prepared with routines, meals and getting the kids out of bed, but I am eager for a change in Summer pace and a good education for my children.
When my kids were much younger, I was excellent at being on top of my mom game. I was prompt, made lists, was always prepared and did it all with a smile, picture June Clever in exercise apparell. As my kids got older and I turned into a working mom, my pretty planned days turned into chaos and disorder.
This year, I’m determined to reign it back in. However, I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for space and purpose with my kids. I want to get back to the basics. I want a relaxing, grace-filled home for my family and free time to take walks after super.
I’ve got 10 Tips to create an inviting day for our kids and for all us moms too. Tips that can help create order but also allow us to relax into our days and enjoy this year with the ones we love most!
1 – Meal Plan Sunday: This first appears daunting but helps keep meals organized in the week. Only plan 5 days. Let the weekend treat itself. Sit with your kids and ask what they want for dinner. Then maybe pick your favorite dinner one night too. I look forward to cooking for myself. Include an easy night that is hot-dogs and mac-n-cheese. Maybe include a pick-up Pizza night. Aim to feed your family and enjoy them too, not to be perfect and be the Chef of the neighborhood.
2 – Lay out clothes and shoes the night before: This is a morning savor for me. There’s no “Mom, where are my socks.” Or “Mom, I need my khaki pants.” This drives me crazy. Have it ready. No questions, just getting dressed and ready for breakfast.
3 – Lunchboxes: I put them on my counter the night before and I go ahead and put pre-packaged items in them. This takes 5 minutes at night but if I do it in the morning, it seems like it takes forever. It just keeps me calmer with less to think about during the school rush.
4 – Even if your late to school, pretend like you’re not: I play the pretend game A LOT. If I get wordy and worked up over running behind, it stresses my kids out even greater. I’ve learned to keep quiet and say “Good job guys” when we are at our latest. It helps to keep me calm too, which is more pleasant for everyone.
5 – Let one kid pick their favorite song en-route: My kids look forward to this and it holds their interest too. It makes me laugh to hear their choice and they get super excited!
6 – Morning Prayer: We started this tradition when my oldest started Kindergarten. We pray before we reach carline. If I do carpool, we pray on our porch before they leave. I have friends that pray at breakfast. They often say nothing, but it’s a peaceful moment for all of us. They will eventually speak up when something is on their mind concerning home or school.
7 – Have food available after school: This seems simple enough right? This took me years to get through my head. I keep ice cream and all the easy snacks at home for them to joyfully eat after their long day. Some days, I take snacks in the car. It’s an after-school free-for-all. I used to keep it healthy or only have one item. I learned it’s best for everyone to have many choices they can get on their own. “You want 3 ice cream sandwiches and 100 blueberries? Go right ahead Shep!”
8 – Alone time, inside or outside: I let my kids go absolutely wild after school. They can choose inside or outside. They can do whatever in the world they want to. They need it. Even if just 20-30 minutes. They need time to express and be free before they have to tidy back down for homework or evening activities. They need space for nothingness, to think their own thoughts and be in their own little world.
9 – Begin dinner as early as possible: Some nights are later than others, and that’s ok. But if you have an early evening home, begin dinner at 4:30 or 5:00. You’ll eat early, clean early and have some extra evening time to spend with your kids. These nights have become my favorite!
10 – End the day pointing to Greatness: We have moments of weakness every day. I do and my kids do. Tears will arise, chaos will make its presence, and our order will become disorder. However, no matter the mess-ups, we end in greatness. I hug them in bed and tell them the things they are great at. I point out their greatness instead of their weakness. I reminder of grace and how I see them the following day. I tell Shep at the end of the day, “You are a good, good boy Shep.” His response is always, “You are a good, good Mommy.”
Mommas, we have a lot of ground to cover with our kids this year. I encourage to aim for sweet moments and loving space amongst the hardships and unknown. Everyday is a re-start, praise the lord. We are all in this boat together. Let’s meet our kids right where they are, and in the end, they meet up with us too, what a joy that is!
Bradley Robertson is a local mother, wife and creative. She’s an Auburn University graduate, loves good food and getting outside with her family. Bradley enjoys feature writing, as well as southern culture and lifestyle writing.