Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School Countdown #16: Teetering Tots 2 Teens

Over the past 15 years, I have juggled everything from Toddlers to Teens.  

Right now I have both, and let me tell you, the various challenges that come about are none less than mind boggling!  I firmly believe that in order for children to survive their first 18 years of life, the mother has to find a way to weather the storms of mommy hood one day at a time.

That, my friends is why I have decided to share my top 18 secrets to gliding through each day with ease as the school year approaches. 

1. I used to take all my kids school shopping together trying to make it a family outing.  Over many years of trying to pull this off, I decided that it is much more fun to take each child individually and call it a Mommy/Daddy kid date.  They will remember feeling special and you won't want to pull your hair out! If you have older kids, they will be much more likely to offer to help with the kids knowing they will get their one on one time next.

2. I have fought against myself on this advice for years and years, but I can honestly say that the days I drag my lazy self out of bed and exercise before I get the kids to school, it all flows more smoothly.  I am more alert and ready to deal with each of the children and their individual stresses or worries.

3.  I was about to give advice on always knowing where the kids shoes are the night before, but I don't have any.

4.  I just heard a report on the news tonight that 90% of home lunches were above the temperature safe to keep food at even with ice packs.  They advised to pack PBJ sandwiches, fruits, veggies and crackers to keep your kids safe.  Mayo and meat are the worst offenders of making the kids sick.

5.  My kids just know that when they get home from school they all start their homework.  I used to let them have a break until night time but after years of changing my rules around, I feel like right after school is the best.  The kids want to go play with friends so they are motivated to knock it out of the park.  I do let them grab a quick snack if they need one before they get going.  I have run into issues with having six daughters at the kitchen table needing help at the same time.  They all distract each other and I get frustrated.  To solve this problem, I let them pick a place they feel like they can concentrate and I rotate to check their work.

6.  Remember that when you go to parent teacher conferences that the teacher isn't out to get you.  OK, maybe this is just an issue I have but I try so hard to help every child that if there is any advice, I tend to get a wee bit defensive.  Keep your head up Charlie, all you can do is your best!

7.  Try and get your kids in the habit of emptying their back packs each day after school.  Heaven knows I have found one too many school lunches after a long weekend tucked nicely in the interior pocket of their bag.

8.  When the lady in front of you cuts you off in the car pool lane, just remember to think *what would Oprah do* Once I gave a lady a nasty look and then I had to see her every day after school.
PS. she deserved it.

9. Reading with ALL my kids every night can be pure torture.  Don't get me wrong, it is also some of my best memories discovering "The Secret Garden" or "Harry Potter" with my kids.  But, when each child has assigned reading for 20 minutes a night and you have 7 kids...well in my calculation that is 140 minutes and that is a LONG time every night to have patience with my Little's.  To combat freak outs by my children or myself I have pair them up and have them read to each other as I rotate rooms.  Good luck.  For years I just spent time with each kid until I had enough to do it this way!

10.  Keep the gas in your car above half way.  If my husband heard me write that, he would scoff.

11. When all else fails, turn up the radio and dance.  They kids love it, it burns calories from the treats you ate that the kids brought home from Jimmy's birthday, and it releases endorphins.  Who doesn't need that?

12.  I have found that during the school year it is great to assign each of my children with a day to make dinner.  There are only a few of them that can actually do it on their own, but it is a fun way to involve them in meal planning and teaching them healthy eating habits.  When they are invested, dinner time is much more fun.  I am not perfect at implementing this, but when I am it works fabulously.

13.  I buy in whole heartily with "Jim Fay's Love and Logic".  When it comes to school, I agree with him that if the kids leave something at home....you let them fail.  They learn to be self motivated to be responsible and it is much healthier to learn it in school when they are young in stead of as they get older in their job.  I am oversimplifying, in short: check out Love and Logic at your local library.

14.  When helping kids with homework or reviewing what they learned in school, always compliment them and be excited about their work.  Sometimes when I have so much to help them with I get frustrated, but this takes out the fun of learning.  School is just as much a learning experience for the child as it is for the parent and we want them to love to learn, not feel like they are a failure.

15.  *In my opinion* when large project types of homework come up such as the science fair, let the child do the work.  I believe it is fine to guide them but I can't help but giggle out loud as I walk around and enjoy "children's" projects that were obviously done by the parent.

16.  Remember to be nice to your children's school teachers.  I can't think of any job harder than being a parent of 7 except being a teacher to a classroom of 35.

17.  Set out clothing the night before.  Nuff said.

18.  Have a family desk calender where everyone can see it.  Add lessons, activities, who's in charge of dinner, and holidays.  Keep a 3 ring binder with plastic cover inserts for schedules the school sends home and notes you have to keep from the teachers.

Have I totally overwhelmed you?  Good, because I am!  Overall, ENJOY your kids.  They are the biggest challenge and the biggest blessings all rolled up into one package.  Don't get discouraged, moms are so hard on themselves naturally.  Do the best you can each day. Some days it will be enough and some days it just won't but keep trying.  

In the end it will all pay off!  

Do you have any tricks that have gotten you through schooling your children?  If so, we would love to hear!  And while you are here, take a minute to "like us" on Facebook by clicking  HERE.

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