Yesterday I read a great blog post called "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever." Jen Hatmaker writes about experiencing the exact opposite of the beginning of school enthusiasm. I can relate.
Jen has five kids.
I have one.
The fact that I can relate to this mother's exhaustion startles me. I guess it goes to show that no matter how many kids we have or what level of schooling they are in (from formal to homeschooling), by the end of the school year, we -- their chauffeurs, chefs, personal shoppers, activity directors, tutors, relationship mediators, and guidance counselors -- are all running on empty. (And I can say all of us pretty safely given that last time I looked, Jen's piece had 300,000 "likes" on Facebook and had been shared 1400 times on Twitter -- and she only wrote it yesterday. That's a lot of tired parents.)
What to do?
I'm pulling myself up off the floor and resisting the urge to hit 'snooze' one more time. I'm digging deep, people. I'm pulling together the little tricks I've learned over this first year of schooling for getting my little one out the door fed, dressed, on-time, with a lunch in-hand (thankfully homework is not an issue yet beyond the occasional show-and-tell -- and let me tell you, this week, taking the little velvet-lined box and abalone-carved turtle that she took this week to anything beyond simply/literally taking it and showing it, took way more mental effort than I had in me).
So I feel you.
But we've got a couple more weeks. Say it with me: We can do this!
My first three tips fall under the category of "do what you can the night before, no matter how tired you are -- your Morning Self will want to kiss your Night Self."
Tip 1: Take Care of Breakfast The Night Before
With a tiny bit of initiative and effort you can let breakfast cook itself overnight and be ready for a few dabs of cinnamon & brown sugar by morning. How? Crock-Pot Steel-Cut Oatmeal, baby. Huge time-saver & a hot, healthy breakfast to boot. I posted about this awhile back -- recipe/method here.
Tip 2: Dress the Scarecrow (No, not the one from Batman. *shudder*)
You know you should lay your kids' clothes out the night before. It avoids all kinds of delay and drama in the morning. But it is tedious and maybe happens 2 out of 5 nights, right? If you're lucky. So here is a way to get your kids excited about doing this piece on their own. We call it "dressing the scarecrow" in our family. Basically it is laying clothes out with the extra step of hanging them on hangers so they end up looking like a Minny Me of your kid -- and they dig that!
Hang it next to your little one's bed & done. ('50s style poodle skirt and top are optional. As is the head-to-toe pink. Just sayin'.)
3. Plan (if Not Pack) Lunch the Night Before
In the very least, get out a piece of paper and jot down the kid's lunch menu. Look in the cupboards, the fridge and the fruit bowl. Know what you've got to work with. That way when you are rushing around your kitchen in the morning barely awake at least you have a game plan. I won't even mention packing the dinner leftovers the night before for lunch the next day -- that is clearly some September-type thinking, as is this.
Ok, so that's the stuff you can do ahead of time. How about the morning of?
1. Wake Them Up With Music
I know some kids who are up well before the sun (or at least, before their parents). We have the opposite problem in our house: Nia is the last to wake up and so0 slooow m o v i n g. To help wake her up and get her going, Joe has created several high-energy morning playlists. (I wonder, did you know, honey, all those years at KSCU would come payoff in dancing our preschooler out of bed...?) Our current playlist includes this favorite.
2. Breakfast in Bed. (Or, in the Car.)
Kids need breakfast. Studies, scientists, doctors, grandmas say it is important. But how do you get them to actually eat it (in a timely fashion)? Lately we've been doing breakfast in bed. This isn't so great if you need to fly out the door moments after your Little wakes up, but if you plan to do it, it works great. They can wake up slowly and eat at the same time. I'm a huge fan of reading aloud, so I read to Nia while she eats (one chapter = one plate of scrambled eggs). On other mornings when we are needing to move much faster, she takes her bowl of oatmeal in the car.
OK, moms & dads. Gather your strength this weekend. You can do a couple more weeks of school mornings, I know you can! What tricks are you employing? Are your kids sleeping in their next-day clothes at this point?