I’m not a huge Resolutions person as I can never quite stick to them. However, I am a big believer in a mid-school year family organization BRUSH UP. And boy does our family need it. The holiday break was a great time spent with family and friends and the kids all had a blast. But, they ate too much sugar, we ate too much of everything, they stayed up way late, and we stayed up way late. Now, we’re all paying a price as we try and get back into our schedule. Little’s not sure why there’s a vegetable on her plate every night. Middle can’t fathom why he can’t start watching a movie at 9pm. Big is struggling with getting back into the crush of homework. Clearly I am struggling with getting back to a more regular blogging schedule (please forgive me). Enter the Mid-School Year Brush Up!
Over the last couple of days, we’ve worked with the kids to reset expectations, goals and workable routines for the second half of the school year. Here’s a few of the ones that we needed to tackle.
Reestablish the Homework Station & Routines: We recreated quiet areas with minimal distractions for both Middle and Big, where they can do their homework. For Big, working in his room independently works the best, so we had him go through his desk and drawers and make sure it was organized and stocked with needed supplies. (ie. we replaced scissors, and we threw out half-eaten bags of chips that were in some drawers.) Middle still needs more help with his work, so it tends to work well for him to sit at the kitchen table. We restocked his homework supply caddy and sharpened all his pencils. (I love the homework caddy, which is a plastic container that we stock with pens, pencils, rulers, markers etc.. and is easily brought over to the table each night when he’s working).
Reestablish bedtimes and bedtime routines: Not the most fun conversation we’ve had with the kids, but definitely one that was necessary. Midnight is not an okay bedtime on school nights even for Mr. Teenager. We’re still getting a handle on this one but at least now we have target bedtimes for each of us.
Touch Base with Each Child: Now is a great time to have a conversation with each of your kids about the first half of the school year, and what if anything, they might need to do if they need to turn things around. Help them make an action plan to make changes in the second half of the year. Assess their after school activities, are there too many or too few. Big dropped one sport earlier this week and is dedicating more time to another. Middle knows that we and his teachers would like to see him raise his hand more in class. We’ve asked that he try and raise his hand AND get called on once a day. While we talked about it before the holiday it, was important to remind him about it. We promised to check in with him in a couple of weeks to see how it’s going.
Brush off that morning checklist to Cut Down on the Morning Rush: This is a big one for Middle. He tends to move the slowest of all of us in the morning. We reviewed everything that he needs to get done the night before to prep for the morning, such as laying out clothes and packing his backpack. With this deep freeze, we’re experiencing; he also needs to put his boots, hat and gloves by the front door so that he can easily find them in the morning. We then created a checklist for everything that he needs to do in the morning to get ready for school.
Inventory after school activity supplies: On Monday, we spent 20 minutes looking for a missing skating glove. Over the break, we lost hats, gloves, goggles and other stuff. Little’s foot also seemed to have grown exponentially, and she needed new ballet slippers. Now is a great time to replace any lost items like the ice skating mitten or basketball socks.
Clean out those backpacks: Goldfish cracker crumbs, overdue library books, half eaten candy canes, single socks, a toothbrush, tons of crumpled artwork…I could go on and on about what we found. Even the kids were cracking up as we were going through their bags. They could NOT believe what they had accumulated. Put on some fun music and make a game of it. Who has the grossest item? The most random?
Remember to Schedule Fun into the Week: It seems silly to say “schedule fun”, but I think it’s so important to do. Life can get so busy between school, activities and homework that we forget to have any mid week fun with the kids. My kids mentioned this to us over break. As we were gearing up to come back to Chicago, we asked them if they were excited to go home. They said no because they didn’t think we had as much fun as a family during the week, when we’re at home. How sad, that at 5, 8 and 13 they’re already looking at life as drudgery. We vowed to change this and talked to them about small ways we could add increments of silliness into our weekday schedule. Their suggestions were so WITHIN the realm of possibilities that if I had to make a resolution, this would be it. We’re going to have more weekday fun. They suggested playing a board game as a family one night a week. Totally doable. We started this the other night when we played Buster Balloon. They asked if we could have an ice cream party one night after dinner. Totally doable. They had such fun and easy ideas that I’m actually working on a post for next week on Being a Fun Mom.