I am so thankful to have friends in my life that have older kids. Ginger is one of those. I come to her with so many questions and concerns. She graciously reminds me that they are normal or it is just a phase. I couldn’t think of a better person to have shared with you all about how to make that transition from littles to busy teens. I am still a few years away but I know that it will be an adjustment and I appreciate her perspective and tips.
5 Tips for staying organized on the go:
One day you wake up and wonder when did I become the mom with older kids. I remember seeing these moms out and about when I was the one lugging bulky strollers and car seats around. At the time I remember thinking that was a long way off for me. I always hear the saying it goes by fast and boy do I understand what they mean now. I want to treasure the time I have left with my girls at home as much as possible. I know the high school years will go by even faster. And I am seeing that to be true already too! So here are just a few tips to help you stay organized so you can enjoy the time you have left with your kids at home.
Weekly Family Planning Session
Make time to talk to each person in your family about what their week plans look like. It works best if you can do this all together so everyone knows what each has going on. For my crew, we do this on the way to church every Sunday morning. “Does anyone have a school project coming up that they will need supplies for, a big test to study for, practices, games, after school meetings, or even work travel?” Are some of the questions I may bring up. It’s important to talk about all our transportations/carpool plans for the week so we know all the activities are covered. This time helps everyone know each other’s plans for the week. I hope that this is teaching my girls how to look ahead and plan out their weeks. A skill that can become natural for them as they become adults. Find a time that works best for your family and give it a try.
Weekly Meal Plan
Don’t worry if you aren’t a meal prepper. This is just making a plan for your meals for the week so you can be sure to have the supplies you need on hand. You don’t want to find yourself running through drive-thru restaurants and eating in the car all week. Know what nights need to be quicker meals and what nights can be a nicer meal. We like to make an effort to only eat out once during the week and once on the weekend. I try to keep it simple so it makes it less stressful and easy for my family to know what is for dinner. On the nights my husband is home first he can help get dinner started. Our go tos are crockpot meals or a quick sheet pan meals. But there are days where we have time to have a great meal or even put something on the grill. I don’t want to miss these opportunities to eat together because we’re not prepared. Grocery store pick-up may be the greatest invention ever! We truly have no reason to not have our groceries at home. Make it a habit to do your shopping at the same time each week. This helps to make your meal planning habit easier each week.
Get up Earlier
For me, as the one who most handles the family schedule, this tip has made the biggest difference. I am not naturally a morning person, but over the years this has gotten easier. As my girls are getting older I have come to value our time in the mornings together. I find that if I am ready for my workday before they get up then I can be present during their morning routines. We still keep the same no technology rule in the morning that we have had since they started kindergarten and it is never questioned since it has become so routine over the years (this applies to me as well, no scrolling social media in bed). I am there to help them with breakfast and pack their lunches and anything else they need. Sometimes it may be advice on an outfit, what shoes to wear, a quick review for a test, or even a quick reminder of what they need to have ready for afterschool. Of course, I want them to do these things independently and I know that they can. I am there to help their mornings run smoothly and be stress-free. If that means sometimes I do something for them that I know they can do because they are having a busy morning, then I am happy to help. They have proven they can handle all these things when needed but we enjoy doing it together. We have great conversations in the morning and I truly treasure this quality time. School can be very stressful these days in many ways and if our mornings are calm, positive and fun I feel like it set the tone for the rest of the day. This extra morning time also gives me time to start a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, and sometimes get a few things prepped for dinner.
Find what works for your family and stick with it. The more routine you have the better. You and everyone else in your family know what to expect and in turn, can jump in and help out. It’s easy to know the dishwasher needs to be unloaded in the morning because we run it ever night so it is ready every morning. Here are a few examples of routines I find are helpful.
Start a load of laundry every morning. I know, as does everyone in the family, that when we walk in that afternoon it needs to go into the dryer. Do your towels on the same day every week and sheets on the same day this will help you avoid the “I wonder when I last washed my sheet?” question. I was surprised the first time the kids brought down their sheets on a Friday morning without being asked because they knew it was “sheet day”. They are paying attention to the routines even if we don’t think they are.
Everyone knows to unload their backpacks/lunch boxes when they get home. To be sure their lunch containers are cleaned and ready for packing the next day. They are responsible for making sure it gets put in the dishwasher. And since we run the dishwasher every night we know it will be ready the next day.
Grocery shop the same day every week. I know I said this before. But I find it helps me plan better to shop a week at a time.
I could go on and on about how important routines are at my house. The routines are great for the kids but it also helps to keep my husband involved. He knows what to expect and is willing to jump right in and help because he knows what needs to be done.
Be flexible and Give Grace
Sometimes even with the best planning and preparation things do not go as planned. Plans change, practice gets cancelled, kids still forget things and sometimes we will too! Take notices of what seems to be your family’s struggle points and try to have a backup plan. Keep extra things in the car that are typically forgotten. Whether it be an extra after school snack, ponytail holders, socks, or something else, an extra just might save the day. Our kids these days are juggling some pretty hectic schedules with school, extra curricular activities and the very important “social life”. Sometimes being flexible and giving a little extra grace is the difference between a grumpy teen and a grateful teen.