Can you knit?
After finishing “The Crown” over winter break (I love British historical dramas!), I needed something new to binge watch. “Search Party,” a 30-minute dark comedy on TBS, had made a couple of year-end “Best Of” lists, so I decided to give it a shot. Although I’m only a few episodes in, I’m obsessed with both the plot (a group of 20-something friends in New York City are trying to solve the mystery of a college acquaintance’s disappearance) and actress Alia Shawkat’s curly bangs.
My husband, who does most of the cooking in our house, thought that baking Hanukkah cookies and other tasty treats over winter break would be a fun way to entertain the kids. Normally, he’s not a fan of baking (too boring, he says), but he must’ve been feeling the holiday spirit something fierce because he made no less than five different baked goods last week.
While snacking on homemade biscotti and Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies, our 5 year old declared that daddy is “the best cook at home.” That is, he’s the best home cook — but not quite as good a restaurant chef.
“So what am I the best at?” I asked, hoping Levi would say something like “taking care of us” or “playing with us” or, at the very least, “getting us dressed every day.”… READ MORE!
In the weeks leading up to Levi’s preschool graduation in June, I cried almost every day in anticipation of my first-born heading off to kindergarten.
Ok, I bawled. I’m talking big, ugly tears and a chronic lump in my throat. I just couldn’t believe that my baby was heading to elementary school. I mean, he’s so small for his age!
Thank goodness for this waterproof mascara. Seriously.
Based on my tear-stained history, I assumed that actually sending him off to kindergarten last week would trigger a similar emotional response. But I didn’t cry on the first day of school. Not one single tear. Just a little sniffle or two that I managed to stifle while driving back home on the tree-lined street of his school.
What the hell? It’s not like I wasn’t feeling all the feels: excitement, anxiety, joy, sadness. Was it possible that I had cried myself dry back in June?
I thought the tears would certainly reappear on Asa’s first ever day of nursery school earlier this week, but again — dry eyes. In fact, the whole morning seemed a little bit anticlimactic; he attended camp four mornings a week at a different preschool this summer, and I was already used to leaving him for a few hours every day.
Asa, on the other hand, did shed a few tears on Tuesday. He wasn’t too happy about putting away his lunch box (he really likes carrying it), and he started to cry when he anticipated that I was about to leave. But after we did the special goodbye hug-Eskimo kiss-high five-fist bump-thumbs up-kiss routine that Levi and I made up, Asa turned his attention back to his puzzle and didn’t even watch me walk out the door.
As expected, Levi also cried when it was time for me to leave him on his first day of school. He was excited about starting kindergarten but has been having some separation anxiety lately, especially with me. Plus, the night before school started, he confided that he was nervous about making friends.
So it must’ve been a huge relief when a girl he knew from camp — a first grader, if you can believe it! — ran over to him when we entered the building to say hi. His kindergarten teacher followed and suggested that she and the first grade girl walk Levi to the classroom. Watching all three of them hold hands was the sweetest, most reassuring thing ever, and I know it must’ve made Levi feel extra special.
Levi was a little bit weepy again on the second day of kindergarten, but every day since has been getting easier and easier to say goodbye. Then this morning, he practically jumped out of the car in the drop-off line when he saw one of his teachers walking into school. I rolled down the window to blow him a kiss, but he ran after her without even looking back.
As I excited as I was to see Levi so happy, I was a tiny bit shocked that he skipped our big goodbye. And then I almost did cry. Maybe.
Did you cry on your kid’s first day of school this year? Did they cry — or did they jump onto the bus or run through the school doors without even saying goodbye?
PS: No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Levi and Asa got much-needed haircuts in between the first day of kindergarten and the first day of nursery.
It’s hard to believe that Asa begins preschool next week and even harder to believe that Levi starts kindergarten today. (Wasn’t he just a baby? When did he get so old?!) For the first time, I’ll have both boys in school, which means that our mornings will undoubtedly be more hectic than ever before.
Getting Levi and Asa dressed, fed, and off to different camps this summer offered me a preview of what I can expect during the school year. Although our mornings weren’t always easy (yes, there were sometimes tears and yelling from all of us), we miraculously managed to make it out of the house on time almost every day.
Here are the strategies that helped me over the summer to make our mornings more manageable, plus one bonus idea that I plan to try during the school year. Wish me luck because school starts an hour earlier than camp, so I’ll have to corral both kids into the car no later than 7:40am.
4 Ways to Make Mornings More Manageable
Pack Lunch the Night Before
Because I wait to eat a late dinner with my husband, who usually doesn’t get home until 7pm, I started using the time while my kids were eating dinner to fill their lunch boxes. Asa got a Greek yogurt, some crackers, and fruit every day since that’s pretty much all he’ll eat for lunch.
Levi’s only slightly less picky. For example, he prefers jelly on bread with a side of peanut butter in a small Tupperware instead of a standard PB&J sandwich. And he won’t eat a cheese sandwich, but he will eat 100% real, natural cheese like Sargento Slices with crackers or a mini bagel. (Also, some random trivia: Did you know that American singles are only required to contain a minimum of 51% real cheese? Yuck.)
Set Out Clothing Before Bedtime
While the boys went through their bedtime routine — going potty, brushing teeth, getting into pajamas — I was setting out their clothes for the next day. Sometimes Levi had a preference and sometimes I gave Asa a choice between two shirts, but for the most part, I was making the decisions. (One benefit to having boys, perhaps?)
I have to say, it was a relief each morning to walk into their bedroom and find their shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear (well, for Levi) ready to go in two neat piles on their dresser. One less decision they each had to make when we were trying to hurry.
Pack Bags in the Evening
After Levi and Asa went to bed, I labeled any new clothing and packed their backpacks with all the non-food items they’d need for the next day: bathing suits, water shoes, towels, plastic bags for wet clothing, sunscreen, hats, etc. (Their lunch boxes with ice packs and water bottles would be added during breakfast.) Then I’d hang them near the front door on wall hooks similar to this pegboard from The Land of Nod, making them easy to grab as we ran out the door in the morning.
I’m more prone to forgetting things when I’m exhausted at the end of the day, and on Levi’s third day of camp, I forgot to pack his towel. His towel! After that I relied on checklists to keep me organized. Quick, handwritten lists stuck to the fridge mean I don’t have to try to remember everything…which will be especially helpful during those first weeks of school.
I plan to use these amazing fictional hotel notepads with my new favorite pen: the FriXion Ball Clicker from Pilot, the world’s first retractable, erasable gel ink pens. I swear, these pens are magic.
Plus, One More Idea to Try…
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
First of all, I’m not a morning person, so I’m generally pretty cranky when I wake up. And if I stay up late at night, I’m cranky and tired in the morning. Unfortunately, we’re all going to be waking up an hour earlier in order to get to school on time, so unless I want to be a zombie all day, I’m going to have to get to bed earlier.
I know that exposure to bright LED lights before bed can interfere with melatonin, a natural-occurring hormone that promotes a more relaxed and restful sleep, but I’m not really able to avoid my phone, computer, or TV an hour before bedtime. However, I would consider taking a supplement like Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve to help me fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, especially on nights when my mind is racing with to-dos that didn’t get done.
What are some ways you make mornings more manageable during the school year?