Saturday, November 10, 2012

School Survival Guide

As a single mom to six kids, I feel like an expert on surviving the school year. Actually, we don't only "survive" the year, but we thrive! Here are some of my tips for getting through the school year intact (and dare I say, even enjoying it)!

1.  PLAN
I have a big calendar that nearly takes up an entire side of my refrigerator. It's color-coded which may sound a little anal, but it makes it easy to see at a glance which kid has what activity. By putting ballet lessons in pink, baseball in blue, church meetings in red, etc., anyone who looks at the calendar can easily tell what's on the agenda for any given day.

I limit my kids to one activity each for many reasons. I can't afford to put them in multiple activities, I don't want to spread myself too thin, and I don't want my kids to be overloaded with commitments. Everyone needs downtime and I try to make sure we all get enough by keeping a balance of activities, sports, homework, family time, fun time.

Set aside time for homework every night. Even if the kids don't have assignments, they can use that time to study and read. My younger kids do their homework at the YMCA before I pick them up, but when I was a stay-at-home-mom, they would gather around the kitchen table and do their work while having an afterschool snack that would tide them over until dinner. Especially when you have a lot of sports practices going on in the evening, it's important that you have some designated homework time so grades don't start slipping during sports season.

I'm a big believer in having dinner together as a family. In off seasons, we all sit down together to break bread. When my kids have sports going on, we don't usually have dinner together. But that's okay because, with a little improvising, we still find time to eat something together. During football, for example, we tend to grab quick snacks that will get us through practice. Warm, filling Tyson's Any'tizers are perfect for this! And when we're all back home, we gather around the table for a late meal or even just a bedtime snack. It doesn't matter if we're eating a 5 course dinner or munching on some chicken wings, or even having a bowl of cereal. It's still time spent together as a family.

I make sure backpacks are ready to go before I retire for the night. This makes the morning rush so much easier. Have all permission slips and homework journals signed. Have all homework checked and put back into backpacks. Make lunches the night before. Even having the kids pick out their outfits for the next day, makes mornings less stressful.

For more great school survival tips (or to share your own!), check out the Tyson Any'tizer School Survival Guide on Facebook!

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