Today is the first day of school. Crazy right?! It's barely August. I have very consciously been thinking about the first week of school lately. How I can make it special. How I can make it easier on everyone. So I sat down and made some plans that I hope will minimize exhaustion and stress, fill the week with fun, good food and the space to establish our routine again and maybe even improve on it.
1) School Shopping: I did one shopping trip online and one shipping trip to a department store. I saved a lot of money shopping sales and got everything done fairly quickly. We mostly needed tops and bottoms. We're in good shape with shoes, socks and underwear. As for school supplies, we're pretty well stocked still from last year and last year's backpack is still in great shape and much loved. I did buy a new pack of pencils and erasers while we were at the large chain department store.
2) Outfit Making: While we shopped we tried to buy things that would coordinate together in lots of different outfit combinations. We played with everything to see how many different combinations we could come up with. All the tops and bottoms we bought will work together with lots of other pieces. We worked through some options for the first week and are going to lay things out the night before so when we're tired in the morning we won't be stalled by indecision or brain freeze.
3) Meals At Home: I decided to really focus on slow-cooker meals and quick fixes for the first week of school. I created a menu the weekend before and did all the shopping I needed to for lunches and dinners.
This way I will have good leftovers for school lunches from the dinners the night before too. Makes life a lot easier when you have a kiddo who prefers a hot lunch from home to any other options. (hello spoiled girl. haha. How can you be upset when she says she "I only like your cooking.") It's going to be hectic enough trying to get homework done at night and make bedtime. I know she's going to be especially tired the first week and I am sure the very early morning routine it going to hit me too.
4) School Lunches: I went through my lunch packing supplies and decided to buy one more little hot food container. I checked my supply of various sizes of reusable food containers and bags. I also looked for ways to make lunch a little less boring. Buying rolls for sandwiches instead of flat, boring bread, looking for a variety of colorful, healthy foods, thinking outside box beyond sandwiches. There are so many good school lunch ideas on Pinterest if you need some inspiration.
5) Bedtime: I found one especially exhausting day the week before school started to shift bedtime back to school hours. I remember our first week of school last year. I was falling over exhausted by nine at night. It felt good to get back in the groove with 8-8:30 bedtime, which is what I've found works best for her after a lot of experimentation. Now I just have to get used to the fact that once she's in bed it totally cramps the grown ups schedule. It's great to have that quiet time, but it's also rough when you can't leave the house for a few minutes because yo have a sleeping kid. That was really hard for me last year when I was here by myself. Couldn't sneak out to buy milk, or run a quick errand. That was continually frustrating.
6) Reorganizing Our Life: One thing I had to do was re-establish space for our school routine. For instance, the area where we usually do homework had been taken as a workspace by Daddy. Sorry Charlie, we needed that space back. I have found flow is one of the most important survival helps during the school year. Get into a routine and have the right tools and spaces to make it happen. Homework space near the kitchen is a must. Plus it is also our breakfast space too. Because Daddy wasn't here last year, it's going to be a BIG adjustment for him. He just doesn't quite understand the 8 pm bedtime yet. But hopefully he will. He likes to go out with the family in the evenings so he's going to need to adjust to doing things early or not at all.
7) Celebrate: I have always been super inspired by NieNieDialogues author Stephanie Nielson's Back-to-School family dinners. I wanted to do something like that this year. So I planned a easy-to-make-ahead dinner, a simple dessert and thought about what our hopes, dreams and goals for this school year were. I split up the duties with The Man and hoped for the best. I'll share more about what we did soon.
8) Plan In Rest Time: I know our school girl is going to be exhausted when she comes home from school the first week. It's going to be a shock to her system. So I am planning in lots of rest time after school and a good snack ready for her as soon as she gets home or in hand at pickup time. I'm expecting she may want to sleep when she gets home, I'm going to try for a nap on early out day. The rest of the days I'm going to try to keep her awake and get her to bed early but I definitely want her to be able to have some down time while she adjusts. It's a good week not to pack the schedule with too much outside activity or other stresses on the schedule.
I'm sure there will still be a few bumps along the way, but today is the big day for the first day of school. I'm ready to get back into a routine, but I'm sad to see full days for summer fun go away. Seven and an half weeks for summer vacation is just too short for me. When I was a kid we had more like 12 weeks and I don't think my kiddo is getting better educated for spending another full month in the classroom. Bummer.
I'm excited for that first walk to school this morning, to see our favorite principal and our wonderful first grade teacher again, and meet our new second grade teacher and best of all the end of the day pick up and to hear all about her first day of second grade. We can't wait to find out what friends will be in her class and see all the neighborhood kids again. So here we go. Back to school it is.