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How do you handle the chaos that comes with getting back into the school routine?

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The Back to School season is among us and that means lot of running around and juggling multiple responsibilities & hectic schedules.  

Getting the kids to school, shuffling them to after school activities & recreational sports, house chores, last minute errands... the list goes on and on.

We gave 20 moms of CafeMom a $100 American Express gift card to go shopping for any of their last minute Back to School needs.  We asked them to tell us what they bought but also to share their thoughts on staying connected with the kids, keeping their kids safe and more.


How do you handle the chaos that comes with getting back into the school routine?

busy mom         school bus

by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 1:51 PM
Replies (11-20):
mamadeayz
by on Sep. 6, 2013 at 3:44 PM
Hi! My name is Maria and I have two middle schoolers. My daughter is 13 and just started the 8th grade (today!) and my son is 12 and in the 7th grade. We live in New Jersey. I am a single mom, so my schedule is crazy! Still, I kind of love back to school time. (Is that weird?). The kids get antsy by the end of the summer and going back to school feels like going back to "normal." One way we deal with getting back into the routine is that I try to get them back on "school hours" starting around a week before school starts> They get off their schedules during the summer so I need to get them back on track. Also, we usually buy our supplies early in the season, although we didn't do that this year. The gift card came right in time! I guess my best tip for keeping on top of the routine is to plan as much ahead of time as possible - lunches and backpacks packed at night, clothes laid out, etc. I can't always keep it up EVERY day, but when I do it helps a lot.
countrymomma81
by Member on Sep. 6, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Ok, now that I've gotten the card and done the shopping I can tell you a little about me and what I did with the card:)

My name is Hallie, I am 31 and I live in Louisiana. I will celebrate 12 years of marriage to my best friend in October:) We have two children, a son who will be 11 on September 16th and a daughter who is 6. We also host foreign exchange students during the school year and our current one is a 15 year old boy from Germany. 

As you can imagine life gets pretty busy. Our son is currently in football (with DH as his coach) and band. Once football is done he will join basketball, then soccer, then baseball. He has also participated in 4-H and Cub Scouts but prefers sports. Our daughter is in dancing (jazz, tap, ballet and hip hop) and cheer. Her squad cheers for our son's team so that works out. She too will do basketball, soccer and then softball. As for our exchange student, he is in Cross Country and then soccer and more than likely baseball. This is my son's first year in middle school so for the first time ever I have 3 kids in 3 different schools. It's also my daughters first year of homework and tests (1st grade). I'm finding myself having trouble keeping up with homework, tests, practices, and everything else. I'm a SAHM so I didn't think it would be this bad but this year has just whooped my behind. We are always on the go. There isn't a day in the whole month of September that there isn't something planned. I try not to keep the car loaded with stuff but I do keep 3 bag chairs, 2 neck pillows and 2 blankets in there at all times because we never know when my daughter will get tired and want to sleep in the car. 

I used the gift card to purchase a pair of uniform shorts for my son (since he ruined a pair already), an awesome planner (Day Timer Family Plus), some colored pens to keep track of everyones schedules, some dry erase markers to color code schedules on my refrigerator board, some snacks for after school and some Zip Loc bags to store some of their extra supplies in. 

Also, having a Cozi family calendar helps us out a lot. With everyone having different practices and schedules it's nice to have a calendar that keeps us connected. I have it on my computer, on my phone, on DH's phone and now our exchange student has it on his phone. Also meal planning helps a ton. I used to think all these moms were crazy because I'd just wing it daily but having a plan in mind before I go shopping helps me stay on track and not buy things I don't need (a bad habit of mine). On the Wednesday before shopping day (because that's when I have time) I walk around the house and take inventory of what is needed and what I already have. I try to create meals using what I have versus what I want to buy. 

Janet
by Ruby Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Hello, my name is Janet. I been married to my husband for 29 years. We have three children and five grandchildren. We are raising our oldest sons two children. They are both boys ages 8 and 10. The 10 year old has type one diabetes. The boys are in grades 3 and 4. We live in Ohio. Have all our lives.

After a relaxing vacation of summer. Comes the hustle and bustle of getting back to school. I don't mind shopping for clothes. They get their supply list at the end of last school year, so you have that to get your supplies with. Of course the individual teacher always adds to that.

With our 10 year old being a type one diabetic. You have to see the endocrinologist get orders for school. Then we have to meet with with the school before it starts, the principal, and nurse. To go over those new orders. They are constantly changing. The schools job is to make sure everyone he will come in contact with knows about him. I also take in juices and 15 carb snacks in the event he would become low. I also take an emergency kit in just in case.

In the mornings I get the oldest up first. I get his breakfast count his carbs, then he can finish up from there. Then I get up his brother he hates to get up no matter how early he goes to bed. So it isn't a pleasure waking him up. Sometimes I have to pull him out of bed. Good thing he is on bottom bunk.

When the kids come home from school I have them do their homework. I go over any papers that came home with them. Then it's done and we don't have to worry about it. Occasionally we have a appointment and it has to wait. Then it seems like they don't like doing it. That is why I like doing it when they first come home.

My kids aren't in any activities at this time. We are so busy with doctors appointments. I have a chronically ill daughter that we take to another city to her doctor appointments. My mother is with us she has a broken arm and has to be taken to therapy 3 times a week. I have to cook for her and she can't have salt. She has heart failure.

I try to keep things in the car to keep them entertained. Books, travel games, etc.. The only thing they really play with is their Nintendo 3D's. I just picked them up a couple of games at a garage sale.

I went shopping and bought my oldest an android tablet for school. The schools are using them these days. They are downloading books and everything. He can even look up carbs for foods if he needs to on it. How exciting is that!
mem82
by New Member on Sep. 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Hello! My name is Mary and I'm 30 years old. I have four children, Missie 12, Cole 8, Theo 4, and Nikki 2. Missie is a 7th grader this year and Cole is in 3rd grade. Theo is in Pre School. As homeschoolers, our back to school routine is a little different than others'. We have to make the leap from just hanging out at home to being educated at home each day. Without actually leaving the house, it can be hard for the kids to make that transition. We keep a morning routine to help make sure we start the day off right and on time.

We usually start adding in one 'school' type routine thing at a time a few weeks before I want to start school for the year. I usually start just getting them up on time. Then, we work on getting our chores done in a timely manner. This year, I also started keeping the TV off after 10am to get my younger kids used to the idea of it being off during the day.

My older kids are required to be up before 8am. They can't leave their room until they are dressed for the day. Then, they have free time and breakfast until 830. The earlier they get up, the more free time they have but I don't let them leave their room before 7am since Cole started waking up earlier and earlier to watch Ninjago. LOL

I'm up and out of my room by 730 so I can keep the older two on task and help my younger two get dressed. After breakfast, and usually without too much prodding, Missie and Cole do their morning chores. Missie is in charge of the kitchen and dining area and Cole does the living room and front door area. Having things cleaned up first thing really helps ME us maintain focus. I'm adding cards that list each of the items that need to be done before the room they are working on is clean. This would really help my son stay on task. His idea of clean and my idea of clean are vastly different.

In the middle of all this, the 2 year old boy I watch four days a week is dropped off.

On the days when we stay home, Missie starts her independent work while Cole and I do Math. Then, they switch and I work with Missie while Cole does his independent work. I have to stay VERY organized for this to work. If either of the kids need to search for a book or a pencil then they completely lose focus. I use lots of shelving and crates to keep everything in order. Color coordination is my friend. I really suggest giving school things such as backpacks, homework, etc a 'home'. It really cuts done on the frantic searching in the morning before needing to be out the door.

Meal planning is a life saver. If I don't know what to make for lunch or if I have to run to the store for something it throws the entire day off. Using Apps on my tablet and making lists is the only way I stay on top of it, honestly. I suggest everyone make a simple meal plan, even for breakfast, to help keep the day on track. The less guess work in the day, the less chance of something getting missed or going wrong.

On days we leave the house to go to classes, I use totes to help make things go smoothly. I try to prepack as much as possible the night before so it's just a matter of grabbing a few water bottles or snacks and heading out.I also have the kids lay out their clothes the night before so I know that they will be clean, matching and wearing socks before heading out the next day. This has resulted in many late night laundry loads when I find out that someone doesn't have gym clothes.

Keeping my Tahoe organized and well stocked makes getting to our classes on time possible. I keep extra diapers, wipes, a bottle of water, TYLENOL lol, a change of clothes for my younger kids and a few books and toys. Having a few pens or pencils tucked away makes doing school work on the go much simpler. Also, books on CD can be a life saver since my kids can listen to their History lesson while we drive and then do their book work at home.

Having a calendar that everyone can look at can really help keep everyone organized, too. I have my tablet calendar linked to my husband's phone as well as my phone so I can access it anywhere. I also use the alert features to remind myself of tasks or classes a few days in advance. Having it linked to Hubby's phone has certainly saved his bacon a few times since he is horrible at remembering anything. Now, when there is something coming up that I want him to know, I make sure the calendar post plenty of reminders so he can't forget. 

DaMama16
by on Sep. 9, 2013 at 11:59 AM
1 mom liked this

OMG! Chaos is sooo the right word for what we've experienced the last few days! :)  Hi my name is Alex and I'm the proud mom of 2 beautiful kids, my DD Leilani, will be 9 next week and just started 4th grade.  My DS, Cruz, will be 3 in October and was just introduced to the world of pre-school after having been taken care of at home by a sitter.

We're still trying to get it together. The kids go to different schools, which are in opposite directions of each other.  We live in Secaucus, NJ.  I'm a full time working mom and my DH is a Police Officer with crazy hours.  We don't have a very large support system near us but somehow we'll make it work!

There are a couple of things that have been key to keeping on top of things but the most important is COMMUNICATION!   The DH used to play HS & College Football and I'm a Project Manager by trade so we're constantly running through the "plan" for each day (who's doing what in the morning, who's taking who to school, who's doing pickups in the evening, who's covering books, what paperwork needs to get filled out, who's cooking dinner, etc. etc.)  It's also important to communicate with our kids.  I love to take advantage of the 1 on 1 time I have with my daugther when driving her to school in the morning.  It helps me learn how things are going at school, learn about her teachers and friends and any important upcoming dates/projects.  She's growing up so fast and it's nice to have some special mommy/daughter time.

The other thing we rely on to keep it together is TECHNOLOGY.  The DH and I used a free calendar to schedule all types of things that have an impact on the family.  This way we don't forget anything.  Our daughter's school sends updates through a Honeywell System which sends us emails, voicemails and text messages.  Our son's pre-school uses a software called Tadpole to provide us with daily updates on how he's doing with naps, food and potty breaks.  It's amazing what you can do these days to stay organized and in the know.

As much as I like to brag about how organized I can be, I've definitely been a little behind on a lot of things.  I was so happy to be a part of this program.  The $100 gift card couldn't have come at a better time. I ran out to finish up all the pesky back to school errands like buying my DS some more clothes, a book bag and lunch box (forgot he needed that stuff).  I was also able to get my DD some school supplies, an adorable lunch box and some much needed undershirts.  Check out the cute pics of them below :)

I'm hoping we'll have our "routine" together soon! But until then... WISH US WELL!!! HAHAHAHA


Smooches!

- DaMama16

blowing kisses

Jinxed8
by Silver Member on Sep. 9, 2013 at 3:14 PM

As a full time working mom, The key for me is schedule.  We establish a routine the very first week of school and we stick to it ALL YEAR LONG !  I also limit the extra-curricular activities for the first semester. 

countrygirlkat
by Member on Sep. 9, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Love those back packs!

Quoting DaMama16:

OMG! Chaos is sooo the right word for what we've experienced the last few days! :)  Hi my name is Alex and I'm the proud mom of 2 beautiful kids, my DD Leilani, will be 9 next week and just started 4th grade.  My DS, Cruz, will be 3 in October and was just introduced to the world of pre-school after having been taken care of at home by a sitter.

We're still trying to get it together. The kids go to different schools, which are in opposite directions of each other.  We live in Secaucus, NJ.  I'm a full time working mom and my DH is a Police Officer with crazy hours.  We don't have a very large support system near us but somehow we'll make it work!

There are a couple of things that have been key to keeping on top of things but the most important is COMMUNICATION!   The DH used to play HS & College Football and I'm a Project Manager by trade so we're constantly running through the "plan" for each day (who's doing what in the morning, who's taking who to school, who's doing pickups in the evening, who's covering books, what paperwork needs to get filled out, who's cooking dinner, etc. etc.)  It's also important to communicate with our kids.  I love to take advantage of the 1 on 1 time I have with my daugther when driving her to school in the morning.  It helps me learn how things are going at school, learn about her teachers and friends and any important upcoming dates/projects.  She's growing up so fast and it's nice to have some special mommy/daughter time.

The other thing we rely on to keep it together is TECHNOLOGY.  The DH and I used a free calendar to schedule all types of things that have an impact on the family.  This way we don't forget anything.  Our daughter's school sends updates through a Honeywell System which sends us emails, voicemails and text messages.  Our son's pre-school uses a software called Tadpole to provide us with daily updates on how he's doing with naps, food and potty breaks.  It's amazing what you can do these days to stay organized and in the know.

As much as I like to brag about how organized I can be, I've definitely been a little behind on a lot of things.  I was so happy to be a part of this program.  The $100 gift card couldn't have come at a better time. I ran out to finish up all the pesky back to school errands like buying my DS some more clothes, a book bag and lunch box (forgot he needed that stuff).  I was also able to get my DD some school supplies, an adorable lunch box and some much needed undershirts.  Check out the cute pics of them below :)

I'm hoping we'll have our "routine" together soon! But until then... WISH US WELL!!! HAHAHAHA



Jessica020410
by on Sep. 10, 2013 at 2:20 AM

First of all: I'm very sorry that I'm late on posting this. I thought the date was for the 10th, but when I went to do it just now, I saw that it was the 8th. Sorry! 

My name is Jessica. I live in a small town in Arkansas. I have three children. My children are 11, 9, and 3. My grade school kids are in 6th grade and 3rd grade. My kids started back to school August 19th. To keep things less chaotic during the school year, I always have everything ready the night before. That means, I have clothes, shoes, and backpacks ready. I make sure that all homework, folders, books, and papers that need signed are in their backpacks.  One other thing that helps with mornings, is not to sleep too late. Having to rush is horrible, so getting up earlier gives plenty of time.I was chosen for the Chevy Travers influencer, and was thrilled about it. My school aged kids still had things that needed picked up and had already ran out of some things at school. Particularly, clothes, extra pencils, erasers, notebooks, and socks. We're not really on the go much. Our morning routine is simple: wash face, brush teeth, get dressed, put on shoes, make beds, pick up backpack, and go. They like eating the school's breakfast, so that's not ever included in our routine. They're not in any after school activities either. We don't keep anything, for our older children, in the car that helps the transition from one thing to the next.

Thank you Chevy Traverse and Cafemom!

Search and join me in the groups I own, admin, design in, and mod!
 

goddess99
by Michelle on Sep. 10, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Great posts. I start preparing for school early and I only have 1 child so not too much chaos here, thankfully!!

lunabella79
by on Sep. 10, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Hi! My name is Tricia and I live on Long Island, NY. I have 3 boys ages 9, 7, and 14 months and I'm expecting boy #4 in February. DS#1 is entering 4th grade and DS#2 is entering the 2nd grade. They're both very excited!

Going back to school is crazy, specially since I'm a teacher and I'm returning to school also. Unfortunately I don't get to be there to put the boys on the bus on their first day and this year I can't be there to take them off the bus either because my first faculty meeting is on the boys' first day of school =(

Our days are crazy. We all wake up at 6:30 AM and while I get ready for work DH gets the boys to get up, get dressed, and get washed. He goes to work a bit later so he's able to help out which is awesome. We leave the house at 7:15 and I drop all 3 boys at daycare where the older two will get on the bus at 8:30 and 9:00. Then I go off to work! I start school at 7:50 and get out at 2:50 which is when I rush home to get DS#1 off the bus, then run to daycare to pick up the baby, then back home again to get DS#2 off the bus at 4:00. Once home the boys get to relax a bit and eat a snack while I put the baby down for a nap. Then it's time to help with homework and start cooking. I don't get to my own work until after they all go to bed, which means I'm at the computer until midnight making lesson plans etc. It definitely seems like we're always on the go, specially on Wed and Fri when the boys have Jiu Jitsu from 4:30-6:00.

On the weekends we spend time together going to the part, hanging out outside, doing crafts, etc. But it's also my only time to do food shopping and some housework.

It's so difficult for me to keep organized, and many times I feel like I'm living out of my car. All my schoolwork, things I need to return to the store, toys, etc. are in the car.

My 2nd DS is lucky (or unlucky from his perspective) to get tons of hand me downs from his brother and cousin, however my oldest DS always needs new clothes with the changing seasons. I took my $100 gift card to some clothes shopping for him and was able to take advantage of some great sales.  I'll have to update with pictures later, but I bought tons of clothes for DS: jeans, shirts, hoodies, etc.

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