I wasn't going to post anything today - it's crunch time around the Raising Five house, as I'm sure it is at yours.
But I saw that this is my 500th post, so I couldn't resist. Rather than bore you with a list of 500 little-known facts about me (you can get your yawns with 111 of them here), I thought I'd ask for some ideas on what you do to help the first few weeks of school (whether your kids attend a school outside the home or not) go more smoothly.
My sister Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary is giving points for going through your morning routine, and I think this is an excellent idea.
School starts in less than a week, so in addition to soccer/volleyball practices and games (EIGHT between them this week!), meet-the-teacher and orientation nights, etc., the main thing I'm doing is going through the kids' clothes and make sure they can make it through at least the first WEEK or two.
Seriously, I do not go hog-wild on back-to-school shopping, since the kids will wear shorts here until November (Allie-14 wears flip-flops ALL YEAR). If I buy them all a new pair of jeans around mid-October they're much less likely to outgrow it by Christmas than if I buy everything in August (although Neal was going through a pair every 2 months last year. That boy is a weed!!).
But I do make sure everyone has at least one or two new(ish) outfits, and then I stock up on underwear and socks, hair bands and clips - you know, those things that have a half-life of less than a month around here - and the ones that can make or break a rushed morning getting ready for school.
Okay, so besides that, here are two more tips for getting back to school, just to get you thinking:
1. Put all school-worthy clothes on hangers.
I did this several years ago when I realized that (gasp!) my kids have a developmental (or maybe it's genetic?) problem with keeping drawers straight. There they were, like so many animals, PAWING through a neatly stacked drawer to find their favorite shirt, even when, in my NICEST voice I encouraged them to gently lift the pile and look underneath. What's left was a wadded mess of wrinkles.
So one day I put everything and I mean everything - shorts, jeans, skorts, skirts, shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts - that my kids might even think about wearing to school or church on hangers. This leaves only socks, undies, pajamas and playclothes and swimsuits in dresser drawers. (I do admit shorts have migrated their way back into them over the summer...)
The main benefit is, of course, that kids can dress themselves more independently. No longer could my kids come out dressed their favorite pajama shirt, wailing, "Why can't I wear this to school?" Did you find that (awful rag) in a drawer? SO terribly sorry, can't wear it to school.
One more argument averted because Mom had actually thought through this first. Yes, a bit of preventive grease on the wheels of the Raising Five morning routine.
The hanger method also helps with finding stuff (easier to see things when they are right there in front of you rather than hiding in the deep recesses of a messy drawer); with managing wrinkles; with laundry; and (a side benefit) with making the switch of hand-me-downs from kid to kid much easier.
Most of our closets have two sets of rods - one low and one high. This is worth every bit of effort to install to make this work if you have small closets.
And each kid has a bin for sports stuff, but that's next:
2. Have drawers or bins for shoes and for sports stuff:
This started for us when I had an old dresser in a closet, and I started putting Allie-14's soccer socks in it because they kept "disappearing" in her dresser (even though there was relatively little left in it - go figure). That started the "sports drawer."
Now each kid has a drawer for not only uniform socks - I also put in their uniforms, knee pads, shin guards, jocks for the boy, swim suits, caps and goggles (during our short stint with swim team) and cleats (if they are not messy) or court shoes. Keeping it all together in one place is the only way I can cope with the zillions of pieces needed to get out the door to a sports event on time.
I think all my kids also have a "shoe drawer" now - either an old dresser in the closet or in a vacated dresser drawer. Yes, I've tried racks, but that would require too much effort, placing the shoe on it. No, when I find a lone flip-flop I can throw it in their shoe drawer (rather than the closet floor) and matching is a wee bit easier. Neal-13, is not the shoe horse around here but I think with his men's size 9 shoes, he needs to graduate to a very large bin this year. Hmmm.
This is not to say we can find the floor of a couple of my kids' closets, but this has been a drastic improvement to the utter chaos without some kind of system at all.
So now it's your turn!
Is there something you do that helps you get ready for the fall? If you'd rather write a post, email me and I'll link you here!