I am feeling a lot less anxious about this fall. Matt and I have spent some time trouble-shooting so that we are better prepared to handle the sudden lurch into school, homework, and activities that will begin after Labor Day.
Thus far, these are our survival strategies:
For the Adults – More Scheduling!
1. Set up an actual schedule for our evenings, so we know that on Mondays I will go to the gym, on Tuesdays Matt will have choir rehearsals, and on Thursdays one of us will go to the grocery store. That type of thing. This will alleviate the “Oh my God! We’re out of food and can’t figure out when we’ll be able to get to the store – and I haven’t been the gym all week!!” crisis that we face most weeks. It will also help with planning – when Matt puts a business trip on the calendar or we have a school function to attend, we can look ahead and say, “Oh, so I’d better go to the grocery store on Monday night that week instead of the gym.” Looky there: crisis averted.
2. Create a meal schedule. We’re not just talking about a plan for the week (not that we’ve ever managed to do that, either), but a Total Simplification Plan! Monday = roast chicken, Tuesday = burgers, etc. Make, eat, repeat. I think this will drive me somewhat crazy after a while because, really, do I want to eat burgers every Tuesday night? On the other hand, do I want to continue our over-reliance on convenience foods? Do I want to open the fridge after work and find no actual meal in sight with two kids in full hunger meltdown mode? If we know exactly what we’re eating that week, grocery shopping also becomes much easier. And I’m sure that after a few weeks we’d change things up…but even if we didn’t, I have to agree that it’s better than the current system.
For the Kids – Less Scheduling and More Breakfast Cereal!
1. Lyle will be busy enough, starting nursery school in September. No classes for him. He and the nanny can do whatever the heck they want on their days together, including hanging out in his pajamas all day. I don’t care. Being 3 is about having time to play. If it seems like we can add something without stress later in the fall, I’ll think about taking him to a swimming class one day a week because he’s been crying to learn. But we’re not starting with that. No siree. So cry all you want, little one, no swimmin’ for you.
2. Baxter will spend his days in second grade. He is signed up for AYSO soccer, which meets twice a week (one practice on a week day, one weekend “game”). At the moment, we are determined that this is all he’ll do in terms of classes. Last year, he loved all the after school clubs (chess, movement, science), and the boy we carpool with was doing the same ones, so it worked out. But if he doesn’t get home until 4 or 4:30 and then has to do homework, eat dinner, and take a bath, there’s no time left over for unstructured play. And you know what? Being 6 is also about having time to play.
3. If you could see the unbelievably complex breakfast routine around here on a day when three of us are going to work or school/camp, you would shudder. One wants raisin bread (not toasted!) with creamy peanut butter and the other wants a mini bagel with cream cheese. Cream cheese on all of it!! All over it! You didn’t spread it here! Oh, sorry, I got off track for a moment there. And then they want to “help”. Which is all well and good if it didn’t mean trying to share the same step stool and being RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE COFFEE MAKER.
Which is probably the worst part, actually. The coffee maker part.
So, damn it to hell, these kids are going to learn to like cereal. I already started with it today. Cereal is for school mornings, that other crap is for weekends and holidays. I’m not even kidding. It’s frigging breakfast boot camp around here. Yes, there were tears. No, not from me.
Because I could reach the coffee maker.
If anyone out there has other suggestions for me, please share them! We need all the help we can get to enjoy this school year rather than being stressed out by it.