Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Back to School - Getting Organised with a Morning LaunchPad

As the holidays come to a close, my mood starts to shift.  I go into super organiser mode.  Collecting last minute school supplies, buying shoes, socks and uniforms and organising the house back to "school zone".

I pull out the personalised school things that Santa thoughtfully brought for the kids.  He is always very organised when it comes to school. The lunchbags and drink bottles are ready to go as well.

I was going to do up a Back to School checklist, but there are so many awesome ones on the web.  Check out The Organised Housewife for a great printable.  However, I thought I would share some of the things that I do to get ready for school.

  • Write the term dates on your family calendar.  Also include any school dates you already know.  
  • Organise the kids to get their haircuts before school.  I highly recommend taking your children for a checkup at the optometrist - especially preppies!  
  • Organise a separate school uniforms washing basket.  Makes life so much easier.
  • Buy plain white socks in bulk.  I am so lucky that my kids are all in the same size range for socks (9-13), so I bought 20 plain white socks and have put them in a school sock box near there launch pad {see next point}.  This saves on searching for pairs or sizes.  Just grab 2 socks and go!
  • Set up a school launch pad.  A place that holds their school bag, shoes, hat and a checklist for the morning. {see below for more information and a FREE printable!}
  • Label everything as you go.  My Dymo lable machine set me back about $30 and it has been well used for the past 9 years.  You can get iron-on labels, white, clear and coloured labels.  
  • The last week of the holidays start winding back the clock.  Get the kids back into bedtime routines and morning routines.  Putting bedtime 15 mins earlier every night is an easy way to retrain their body clocks.  Wake them up at the same time every morning (ours is 6am).
  • Designate a spot for school notes and papers.  Most schools are paper free these days, but the kids know where to put the notes that do come home.  My spot is on my desk.  They know to put it on top of my keyboard so that it gets read straight away.  

The First Week of School:

  • Head to the office and update all your details.  If you have any concerns about your child, ask to make an appointment with the Guidance Officer to discuss.
  • Find out about school banking and get the application forms back to the school ASAP.  Most school bank accounts are free and have great rewards for the kids.
  • Find out about any sporting, music or other programs that the school offers and get the enrolment forms.
  • In the 2nd week of school request a detailed class schedule from your child's teacher.  It helps the morning routine when the kids know that they have Library today or a music lesson.  Write them up on their Daily Mission Schedule {see below for FREE printable}

We make getting ready in the mornings fun and easy.  The kids have a countdown list - a "Pre Launch Checklist".  After the normal morning routine is complete and there is 15 minutes until "Take Off", we tell the Reasons to start their countdown.  They go to the list and get ready for "Blast Off".

Our Launch Pad.  
Hats, bags, school shoes.  A clock so we are never late, our Pre-Launch Checklist and their Daily Mission Schedule for each child. 
{some school bags and hats are missing as our uniform shop re-opens next week.  I have already ordered them}

Our school sock box - and a place to sit to put your shoes on.

They can refer to the Daily Mission Schedule - which includes specific things for particular days.  ie:  Tuesday Lucy has Piano, so she has to remember to take her Piano books.  Thursday Hayden has Chess Club, so he has to remember to take his Chess Set.  Friday is Violin day - so it goes on the list.  And I put whatever day their class goes to the Library, so they remember to take their Library bag.  It is a good idea to get them to check the list for the next morning before bed.  Put those items in their bag ready - which saves on spending time in the morning looking for a library book.  I laminate this blank so I can change it as the schedule changes throughout the year.

The Daily Mission Schedules are blank, ready to put things on once I get their class routine sheet from their teacher.

I hope this helps with some of your Back to School organising.  It makes the morning routine so much easier.  

And, just for you... here are your FREE printables of the Pre-Launch checklist and the Daily Mission Schedule.  

Click on the picture to make it large, and then right click to save to your computer.  Print and laminate them and sit down with your Reasons to explain how they work.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

GoodBye 2013

As I reflect on the year that was supposed to be, I am saddened by the year that it had become.  One of the hardest, most challenging, most heart breaking and soul searching one in my short life to date.

It was supposed to be "our year".  It was far from it.

Twenty-Thirteen was the most challenging in our Bi-Polar adventure.  So many lows, including 2 hospital visits and Brett actually going missing on me for 2 days.

I felt my clutch slowly slipping on more than one occasion and was ready to throw in the towel.

We had financial dramas (who doesn't), car problems (which are still not sorted - seems my car is not far off needing a $8000 transplant!), health problems (who knows what is going on with my shoulder!),  devastating friendship ends, far too few adventures and a major issue with time.  Seriously, where the heck did the year go?  Not that I am complaining really.  I am happy to see the back of 2013!

So as the year drew to a close, we decided to try and salvage the last moments to say goodbye.  Cleanse our souls and welcome a fresh new start.

We had planned a quiet, watch the fireworks on TV, eat pizza kind of night, but when I woke on NYE my inner voice was telling me to make an effort.

So we packed up the Reasons and headed to the big city.

You know your kids are growing up when they ditch the cheesy grin for a more smouldering look.
Every. Single. Photo.  
We arrived at Southbank and decided that the $30 in parking right under the parklands was going to be worth it.  A short walk from our "campsite" to the car in the dark, with pram, esky, 7 camp chairs and other bits and pieces - oh and 5 children.  We knew it was a good choice.

We found a good spot and decided to set up camp sooner rather than later as the crowd was already starting to assume their positions. 

After quickly making friends with a couple of young couples beside us, and kindly asking them to watch our spot (which later we reciprocated), we headed off to explore.

But not before branding the Five with my phone number and giving them instructions as to what to do if they loose sight of us at any point.  

We walked the streets of Southbank and I reminisced of the times I came here as a child.  Unaffectionately recalling the reason I can not swim in public pools.  Ear Infections.  Every. Single. Time.  

We ended up at the Museum.  A place close to our hearts.  It never gets old and the memories the Five already have of our visits astound me.

I took the time to marvel at the pace at which my children are growing.  Hayden is already 4 foot 11 inches.  Seriously.  

Oh a side note:  According to an online calculator - using his current weight and height, and the height of both parents - he is predicted to be 6foot at full height.  Eek!

I took the time to watch the relationships my children have with one another and with us.  This one specifically mades my heart sing.

After some time at the Museum we slowly made our way back to our "camp".  The crowd had grown thicker and the hive of activity around us was buzzing.  

We spent the next 3 hours just being.  Watching.   Boat watching, people watching, cloud watching, bird watching, and gradually light watching.  

Brett ferried the Reasons back and forth from the playground just 20 meters behind us.  The kids made many friends.  I marvel at how easily they make friends.  It's something that I will always be in awe about.

I wish I had a book.  But it was peaceful just sitting, watching the world go by.  A happy goodbye to 2013.

Our awesome spot - right in front of the fireworks barge.  

As the sun started setting we assumed our positions.  The worry of loosing a little Reason in the fast growing crowd was making me nervous.  So we sat.  Told stories.  Shared lollies and played with our glow toys.  

Finally it was time.  Time to bid farewell.  

As the crowd had their eyes on the fireworks, I couldn't take my eyes off my family. 

Through the eyes of a child, they are the most magnificent, enchanting and spine-tingling display of magic.  

As the fireworks finished, I hugged each of my children and whispered "Happy New Year Bug" into their ear.  

We took a moment to let the crowd dissipate before packing up and heading home - surprisingly skipping traffic.  

Even though the process of starting a new year has no tangible effect, the process in my mind creates a sense of relief.  I reflect on the past year and realise that it wasn't what we had hoped for, but it is what it is.  And I can only hope that 2014 will be so much more.  

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