A couple of weeks into the new school term and we are all starting to find our rhythm. This is something that definitely happens quicker as the kids get older. But regardless of their ages, with five kids, school mornings and the after school period are still times full of activity and requirements. It is at these times that a little planning goes a long way.
Here are 5 tips I find that help make the school week run smoothly:
School lunch preparation
If you follow the PWK facebook page you will see I regularly post photos of the food preparation I undertake on the weekend for the kids and for me. I have had many readers tell me they love the idea, but have no idea where to start. I can completely understand this. My food prep on the weekends has grown and expanded over the years – I didn’t just start doing everything one weekend.
If you haven’t tried it before my suggestion is to start small. On the weekend commit to making one savoury item and one sweet item for the lunch boxes. It doesn’t have to be in an amount that will last all week, just something that will get you at least half way through the week is a great place to start. To fit it in with out causing too much additional work, try this:
- Choose a meal on either Saturday or Sunday that you can make in bulk to leave left overs for lunches. Two favourites for our family are to have tacos which I can then turn the left over meat into taco parcels and chicken schnitzel which I can then use as the main ingredient in wraps for the kids lunches.
- Sunday afternoon grab whatever kids are around and get them in the kitchen with you to make a simple sweet treat for the lunch box. Muffins are great for this, you can try Choc banana muffins (gluten, dairy and nut free) or choc chip muffins, Choc sunflower seed balls, quinoa snack balls or the traditional chocolate balls (you can find a refined sugar free version of chocolate balls here).
You can read more about my school lunch box process here.
Teach the kids
Over the long term you need the kids to be doing what they can for themselves to reduce your workload. It doesn’t need to be you searching through school bags for notices and lunch boxes once they are tucked up in bed. Work out what you want the kids to do and spend the time teaching them what it is you want them to do. These are some of the things our primary school kids do, that helps make our school week run smoothly:
- they get themselves ready (these printed charts help them) and pack their own school bag
- they bring their lunch boxes and school notices to the bench as soon as they come in from school
- they put their dirty clothes in the wash basket at the end of the day
- they put their school clothes for the next day out before they go to bed
- they pack the swimming bag in the morning on the day they have swimming lessons
Know your washing days
As with all that I share here on the blog, these tips are what work for us and hopefully might work for you too. The kids only have a few uniform sets and one sports uniform and the older kids in particular have multiple sports sessions a week. At the start of each term I work out who has what when and determine what are my must wash days.
Unfortunately for me this term it is actually Tue, Wed, Thu and Fri that I need to wash! Most of the time I can usually get away with washing every second day, but this term I know that for everyone to have the right clothes for the right day, I need to wait for them to all be home from school and after school activities and put a load of washing on almost every school night. For some families, I know their solution to this problem is to buy more sets of the uniforms.
Plan for left overs
I know from some readers that their partners won’t eat left overs, so this may not work for everyone, but I try where possible through out the week to ensure each meal has some left overs of some description. Many a night I have been saved when we have been caught out late after school by having left overs of a couple of meals like shepherds pie and butter chicken and can feed the kids a decent meal without any effort. This food rarely goes to waste if I don’t need it for an evening meal, as I will either eat it for my lunches or freeze it.
Organised mornings start the day before. Finding a rhythm that works for you in the evening that allows you to set up an organised base for the morning is important. I prefer to work through all the tasks I need to do and then relax with whatever time is left over after that. My husband however works opposite to that and once the younger kids are in bed, prefers to take time out to relax and then move on to tasks later. What the rhythm is isn’t important, but doing it regularly so it becomes a habit is important.
I wrote a number of years ago a list of the 10 things to do before going to bed. It is a little different now, but much of the basics are still the same and I do it every school night, even when I have been out late and feel like it is the last thing in the world I want to do. I am always completely thankful that I made the time to do it the next morning.