At the bus stop...early!Is it just me or does the back-to-school season make you feel like the best version of your mom self? After the lawlessness of summer, the pendulum has swung the other way into normalcy and routine and structure. I love the fresh-start feel September brings and the novelty of doing so much so well. I'm on the top of my game with lunch making, bedtimes, book reading, hair brushing--I've even flossed my kids' teeth a few times! And I'm loving every second of the blissful, anal-retentive organization we have going on in our house because I know it ain't gonna last. Soon enough I'll be stumped by 1st -grade homework (that we're scrambling to finish the day it's due), forgetting permission slips and sending my kids to school with the heel of the bread folded around some old jelly. Remember Jen Hatmaker's post about the end of school year fatigue that circulated last May? I could totally relate. But right now I feel like I'm going for gold in the mom Olympics. Here's what I mean:
1. We're laying out clothes the night before so there's no stressing over where Alex's black ankle socks are (he's very particular about his footwear) or Nora thinking she's going to sport her red and black fringed flamenco dress (a gift from my sister's Spanish in-laws and Nora's absolute favorite thing to wear--though not at all school appropriate). Some of these clothes are even new! So they all fit! Because I was prepared!
2. I'm packing healthy, delicious lunches (hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, apples, strawberries, watermelon, hummus, pulled pork sandwiches with a side of homemade coleslaw and pickles from the farmer's market!). I think about these lunches the night before. Sometimes I lay them out. And I put little notes in the bags. What makes all of this possible is that I actually have food in my fridge and cupboards to choose from, which is not always the case (I'm not a one-big-shop-for-the-week kinda gal but I'm trying to be better about that since, you know, I have children now).
3. We're back to reading books every night. Several books. And the kids listen. We're big believers in a bedtime routine (since birth) and have always made books a priority but I'd be lying if I said my kids were read to every night this summer. We tried but they (and we) were often so exhausted from days of beaching and boating and running around the backyard that, well, it didn't happen.
4. Hair is not only washed, it's brushed and blown dried. Nora has had a braided pony tail every morning. Last year we perfected the unbrushed messy-bun look so this is really a feat. Alex has been making himself faux hawks every morning and while it's not my favorite look, it is a look and it stays put (the other day we were all in the car and Nick asked why it smelled like weird perfume and Alex replied, "Oh that's just my hairspray, it's kind of potent.")
5. The kids have been eating early, healthy dinners with vegetables and we have conversations about our day. There are no hot dogs or s'mores in sight. My kids ate vegetables over the summer (we have a great garden) but dinner was often late and thrown together or eaten in bathing suits at my parents' pool. No more. Sometimes Nick and I eat with them, sometimes we just sit with them and chat and then eat when they go to bed. Because…
6. The kids are out cold by 8 p.m. at the latest. I'm not gonna lie, this is my favorite feature of the fall routine. Nick and I have actually been high-fiving each other when we come down from our bedtime reading and tucking in and realize…we're done.
7. I've been waking up before my kids. My kids sleep pretty late as far as kids go (7:30 on average) and since I work from home and their schools don't start until 9, I don't have to scramble to get myself out of the house. So I usually use them as my alarm clock. But for the past two weeks I've been hopping out of bed before them just so I'm prepared (they go from 0 to 60…there is no easing into the day with them). It makes such a huge difference even if it only means I've gotten to pee and brush my teeth alone.
8. TV consumption has been cut way back. The way I feel about my parenting at any given time is in direct relation to how much television my kids are watching. I'm not against TV but I like to limit it and even though the summer was all about being outside and going to camp and riding bikes and swimming, there was also more TV. Because there was more downtime and less structure and Nick and I still had to work. The fact that my three-and-a-half-year-old can quote Monsters, Inc line for line is not my proudest achievement. Although her Roz is spot on.
9. The homework just started this week and so far it's easy so I can keep up and Alex isn't complaining. A win-win! Also, the PTA notices and field trips and fundraisers and massive amounts of mostly nonsense paperwork hasn't started piling up yet so I don't have that constant sense of being behind and forgetting something, which set in pretty quickly last year.
10. Because of 1-9 on this list, our mornings are not rushed or chaotic or punctuated with yelling and fighting and the occasional $%#! outburst. We have nice, hot breakfasts and time to really get prepared for the day and maybe even play a little. We've been listening to jazz! I've been showering before the bus stop! I actually put on real clothes and makeup yesterday (I had a meeting in the city) and Alex said, "Mom you look overdressed and way too pretty today." I'll take it!
I can't wait to reread this list in a month or so when I'm in the thick of it. Or better yet, in November when I have a newborn baby up in here! Ha! My kids have only been in school for two weeks but it's been fantastic for the parenting ego so, like I said, I'm reveling in it. How about you? Is your school year off to a promising start or have you already slipped into chaos?