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We are already four weeks into school. FOUR. Can you believe it? I feel like it’s been days, not weeks. While this back to school season has definitely been crazy, I can honestly say that it’s been the smoothest transition to back to school yet. And make no mistake about it, I was most definitely nervous. Besides being the mom that occasionally doesn’t notice that her daughter is missing items on the way out the door, I have two in school for the first time ever. Sure, Hazeline’s only in preschool, but suddenly she has a schedule and homework and permission slips of her own, on top of the ones that Greenleigh brings home from elementary school. It’s a lot to keep track of. But nearly a month in, we’ve been remarkably organized. We’ve been on time every day and not a single pair of shoes has been left behind. That’s cause for celebration if you ask me!
You know the secret to making it all happen? These chart, right here.
They’ve changed our mornings completely.
Around midway through the second week of school, I found myself saying the same words to the girls each morning – “brush teeth”, “brush hair”, “change your clothes”, and “don’t forget breakfast”. After doing the same routine each morning for the last 2 years, I felt that these were things that the girls should know, and yet they’d try to leave the house without having them done. So I sat down and created a quick list of everything that they needed to do before leaving the house, painted some magnets I had left over from a craft project a few months back, posted it up on the refrigerator.
The results have been amazing. Each morning the girls arrive in the kitchen eager to move their magnets from “To Do” to “All Done”, and one simple magnet helps them remember what was left undone so they can fix it. Greenleigh even asks me to move her magnets back to “To Do” on the way to school – she’s that excited to start the process again!I wanted it to be a daily reminder and check list, but I didn’t expect for it to teach such self responsibility, yet that’s exactly what it’s done. All in all, the charts are a hit. The kids like it. I like it. It’s a system that’s working in our house.
The only thing that I seemed to have a problem with was the breakfast part of getting out the door. See those pancakes on the chart? They look good, right? Well, other than the first day of school, I never seem to have the time to get a hot breakfast on the table. The pancakes on the chart became a constant reminder that my kids weren’t getting a hot breakfast in the morning. So I decided to look for an easy, hot breakfast solution while I was at Walmart last week and found Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick. Similar to the State Farm Classic Corn Dogs with a signature honey-sweetened cornbread batter that my kids know and love for after school snacks or quick dinners, Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick provide a hot breakfast for those crazy mornings in the car line. They’re surprisingly high in protein too, so it’s a breakfast that will stick with them.
They’re easy to heat in just about a minute and completely portable. And that maple syrup smell… So yummy! Ordinarily, I’m a fan of the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches, but I’ve definitely caved and eaten a few of these (no comment on the exact number)!
Want to simplify your back to school mornings? Great! You can find my Good Morning Routine Printable HERE (you’ll also need .75″ circular magnets – which can be found at any craft store – but painting them is totally optional) and be sure to be on the look out for Jimmy Dean Pancakes & Sausage on a Stick the next time you’re in the breakfast aisle at your local Walmart!
How do you simplify your back to school mornings?
A few years ago (and long before Greenleigh was even a thought) I was at home during the day and turned on the Dr. Phil show. Oh, how I love daytime television, even Dr. Phil. This particular episode focused on a woman named Treffly Coyne, who had been arrested and charged for leaving her sleeping 2 year old in the car while she walked approximately 30 feet away to donate some money to a Salvation Army bell-ringer. Coyne explained to the audience that when she put her daughter in the car that evening she was asleep, and she was still asleep when they reached the Wal-Mart where she was to donate the money. It was sleeting outside, so she made the decision to leave her toddler in the car, and only take her older daughters with her. She left the car running with the heat on, set the alarm, and walked over to the bell-ringer. After donating the money, they began their walk back to the vehicle, but were stopped by a community safety officer. Coyne was then arrested and charged with child endangerment and obstructing an officer, charges which carried a $2500 fine and up to a year in jail. Public outrage ensued. People dug in their heels on either side of the issue. After months of debate, the charges were dropped.
During the course of the show, Dr. Phil took an audience poll to see whether they thought Coyne had done something wrong. In a rough poll based on people raising their hands, it appeared that about half of the audience thought they should be prosecuted. At the time, I didn’t really know where I stood. On one hand she left her toddler in the car, unattended. A myriad of bad things could have happened. On the other hand, it was 30 feet (or less), during inclement weather, and the child was sleeping in a locked car with the alarm activated. My mother left my sister and I in cars when we were little under less favorable conditions, and we turned out okay. As the show progressed on, one of the audience members said something to the effect that she wouldn’t even leave her kids in the car when she walked down her short driveway to put something in the mailbox.
About a year ago I was out grocery shopping with Greenleigh all by myself. I had unloaded the cart and gotten Greenleigh into her carseat. I then looked at the empty cart and realized that I needed to return it to one of the cart corals or the store. As someone who has had her car scratched by a loose shopping cart in a parking lot, I hate when they are left just anywhere. So there it was – do I turn on the car, start the air, and walk over to return the cart by myself or take Greenleigh out of her seat, make her walk with me to the return area, and then buckle her in all over again? I remembered the Dr. Phil episode. I debated it in my head for what seemed like an eternity. After all, I could keep my eye on her the entire time I walked the cart over and the air conditioning would be on…but what if [insert all sorts of bad things that could happen in the span of 60 seconds here]… In the end, I decided to take Greenleigh out of the carseat then walk over and return the cart.
After that day, I learned to unload the groceries first, return the cart, then put Greenleigh in the carseat. But even with the grocery store figured out, similar situations kept arising. What about at the post office when I have to drop a letter in the box which is right next to the front door? How about at the ATM when you have to exit your vehicle? What about at daycare when the baby is sleeping in the backseat and they have Greenleigh ready and waiting for me at the front door? What if I have the kids loaded up in the car to go to daycare but remember that I forgot something in the house? Is it okay to go back and get it? We live in a townhouse and have a community parking lot, does that change your answer? These are all situations where I would have to exit the vehicle and walk 30 feet or less. This all prompted me to ask, “How far is too far? How far can you walk from your car with your kids inside? At what point is it no longer okay?”
Occasionally I would ask other moms how they handled these types of situations and they acted like it was no big deal. One mom told me that she regularly left her infant in the car (with the car running) when she walked into the school to get her older child. That’s a little too far for my personal comfort zone, but perfectly within theirs. Other moms, like that Dr. Phil audience member, said that there was no comfortable distance.
So I want to know, how do you handle the shopping cart conundrum? Do you leave your children in the car or take them everywhere with you? How far is too far for you?
The mall during the holiday season – it’s exactly where I don’t want to be, and yet I find myself there a lot lately. A few months ago they put “family parking” signs in at select spaces close to the mall entrance. I was thrilled, but apparently some people don’t exactly understand what they mean.
Here’s what they mean to me:
- I have kids, and therefore, a ton of crap with me. It’s going to take me a long time to get the aforementioned “ton of crap” in the car. I’ll try to hurry, but I have to get all the crap in the car, my kids in their car seats, and then get the car started and backed out of the parking spot. I see you with your blinker flashing and that annoyed look on your face, and I will hurry, but please be patient. As patient as you can be during the holiday season, that is.
- My child might need a last-minute diaper change. Of course, I would have done the diaper change in the mall if I had noticed, but I didn’t notice until I lifted my baby out of the stroller. No, I don’t want her driving the 20 minutes home in a dirty diaper (which we all know can lead to dirty clothes, hair, carseat…you see where I’m going with this, right?). And no, I’m not going to pack all of the aforementioned crap back in my car, god forbid I leave valuables in my car and go in without them, so the trunk is going to have to do. I don’t need your side-eye while I do the diaper change.
- Neither of my kids are particularly fond of their carseats, so I may need to physically restrain them to get them buckled in. No need to call child protective services. Not putting them in their carseats is not an option and illegal, though I realize it would make it much easier for you to get my highly coveted parking space.
- It may take me a time or two to get the stroller properly collapsed and into the trunk. While we have a smaller, light-weight stroller, like I said, I have a ton of crap with me. It may take a second to get all of the crap in the car in such a way that my stroller still fits. I can do it, but you staring holes into my head isn’t helping. And in the off-chance that I need to actually take the stroller out of the trunk to re-situate, throwing your hands in the air is not doing anyone any good.
- If I don’t back out of the space immediately, it’s because I’m looking for my daughter’s snack. Relax, it might take me a minute. Needless to say, her snack is under all the other crap in my purse. I’ll find it, but your honking isn’t helping.
- Finally, as I do actually exit my parking space, there is no need to almost hit my vehicle as you accelerate forward while I’m still in reverse. I get it, you want the space. I get it, I took too long. Have I mentioned that I have a ton of crap with me?
Perhaps I should stick to online shopping.