Are you always running out the door with your kid(s) to get to school and work on time? Is a breakfast bar and a sippy cup of milk the morning meal on the go? It is for me and my daughter! I only have one preschooler to get to school on time and we probably run a 60-75% success ratio, so when I read this article in The New York Times about Victor Crawford, a single father of 6, I was amazed and inspired. Thus I wanted to share it on my blog.
September 10, 2010, 1:00 pm
<!– — Updated: 4:46 pm –>How to Get Your Children to SchoolBy LISA BELKIN
School is back in session. And depending where you live, you’ve had days or weeks to get back in the routine. Which means you are probably still foundering around every morning trying to get out the door, right?
Last week I introduced you to Victor (Spuds) Crawford, a writer/substitute teacher/single Dad of six children/former military man. Spuds likes lists. Periodically over the next few weeks he has agreed to share some of his lists here on Motherlode. Today’s offering is a “List for School Day Mornings.” There are two variations on this theme. The standard version, and the one for cold or rainy days. First the standard one. Then come back later today for the inclement weather modifications.
By Spuds Crawford
1) EVERYDAY LISTS
Before we get to the checklist, we need to talk about laundry. Without a laundry system in place, there isn’t a checklist in the world that can help you with the daily school grind! This is how we do laundry: Each child has his or her specific evening to do laundry. At this time they will wash, dry and, as needed, iron seven outfits that they will wear for the week. I will do the remainder of their laundry.
The notion of planning seven outfits in advance is a challenge for my daughters. Apparently, there is a time limit for how long an outfit can remain “groovy” (my children hate when I say “groovy.” So I say it often and in front of their friends.) For this reason I have had to allow for a certain amount of flexibility with the young ladies of the family.
For the boys, though, this method is ideal … maybe even perfect! The only requirements I have for the finished outfits for the boys is that pants/shorts must match the shirt and there must be a pair of socks and underwear shoved into the pockets of the pants when they are laid out the night before, increasing the likelihood that they will wear clean socks and underwear everyday.
I know for a fact that Calvin, my 8-year-old, has pulled his clean pair of underwear out of his pocket at school at least twice. This just goes to show that while my method of trying to train the boys to change their underwear daily is easy, it doesn’t necessarily make it fool-proof.
A corollary subject to laundry, is weather. My son Matthew, 11, is the designated Weather Man. Josh, now 15, retired from the Weather Man post last year and Matthew has been doing a great job of updating the weather forecasts on the whiteboard in the kitchen on a daily basis. We always have a general idea of what to expect at least four days in advance and this helps with our clothing plans.
Now, onto the lists.
• 0500: Wake up and stare at myself in the mirror until I come into focus.
• 0510: Do stretching in the garage. I also have to set the alarm on my phone for 0520, at this point. I have fallen asleep on the floor of the garage before, while lying back to stretch my thighs. It’s not fun waking up on the floor of the garage at 0800 with the neighbor’s cat snuggled up under your arm. It actually happened twice. Try explaining that story to the attendance office!
• 0520: Jog. Well … it’s more of a limp, then a stagger then, after my knees have warmed up, I do actually have a rather good looking jogging form.
• 0550: Water and feed the dogs. (Water myself, too.) And jump in the shower. Like my children I have my clothes for the week on my hangar so I can usually shower and dress by 0600.
• 0600: Wake-up time! This is usually tough for the first week of school, as they are all out of the early morning habit. I’ve found that my old whistle comes in handy for those “difficult” mornings. You laugh, but it works. Ooooh! The girls hate my whistle! The mere sight of my whistle seems to anger them. My Ramona, 8, actually grabbed my whistle off the counter during an especially “difficult” morning, ran to the back deck and, with a running start, threw my whistle into the pool. It was hard not to laugh.
• While the children begin their “zombie walks” upstairs, I run downstairs and pull both of the electric griddles out of the cupboard so that they can start pre-heating. Mix the pancake batter, cut the ham, and grab the eggs and cheese from the fridge.
• 0610: Re-wake up the children who have fallen back asleep. (Periodic time reminders need to be performed even for those who have remained awake, as the children have no concept of time in the morning … unless they are running late … which, if this is the case, you should be prepared for general mayhem and crying.)
• 0630: Breakfast. Everyone eats, everyone cleans … house rules.
• 0645: The two older boys depart in my beloved “Man Truck” for school. I, of course, am relegated to driving the minivan. (There is nothing manly about a minivan … except me, of course. I even tried playing some Motorhead one morning after I dropped the children off, but the song “Born To Raise Hell” came out as “Born to Enjoy an Evening Mixer With Some Live Music.”)
• 0655: It’s go time … “Combat Seating!” Yes, I have a posted seating chart for the minivan. The seating chart prevents any “Shotgunning” of the preferred seats. The children sit in the seats in the order that they will exit the van for school. It just makes sense and it precludes any last-minute arguments.
• 0715: Drop the twins off at their school. Remind Calvin to check his pockets for underwear before he leaves the van. (The two underwear incidents at school were very traumatic.)
• 0735: Drop off the two older ones, or “Tweens,” at the middle school.
• 0800: Grab a Diet Coke from Sonic (because they have the best ice).
• 0815: Arrive home. Re-clean the kitchen and pick up the items that broke loose or fell from the children as they wandered about the house.
• 0900: Put in a load of laundry. (Even with the children washing their own weekly outfits, I still have to do at least three loads of laundry per day so I don’t fall so far behind I won’t be able to catch back up again.)
• 1100: Lunch break.
• 1200: Do the scheduled house cleaning for the day. (That’s a whole separate set of lists.) This is also when I prepare and package the snacks for the children to eat in the van for the ride home. I do this because they are always starving and I’d rather them not whine the whole way home about how hungry they are, then arrive at the house and destroy the kitchen in their quest for food. Plus, it really peeves the SAHM’s when their children want to ride home with us because we have treats. (Grin.)
• 1400: Leave the house in the min-van for the infamous Car Rider Line at the elementary school.
• 1420: Arrive at the elementary school. I like to arrive early so that I can be one of the first vehicles in line.
• 1500: Arrive at the middle school for the second car line.
• 1540: Arrive back at the house, clean out the garbage from the snacks, and make sure the children remember to get their backpacks out of the van and shut the doors. (Why do children not shut car doors?)
• Backpacks are left on the dining room table, where I review agendas, sign paperwork and insert the always-requested envelopes with money for the various “things” at school. The children generally have free time.
• 1630: Start making dinner.
• 1700: The children sit at the table and do their homework while I finish dinner.
• 1730: Dinner/cleanup.
• 1830: Dance class on Monday. Boy Scouts on Tuesday. Church youth meetings on Wednesday. Girl scouts and karate on alternating Thursdays. High school football games on Friday. Or, if we happen to not have any activities, we watch TV together or play X-Box.
• 2000: Start the showers.
• 2030: Peanut butter-and-jelly snacks in the kitchen. This is also when we update the whiteboard in the kitchen.
• 2100: Reading time.0
• 2130: Lights out. This is also when I grab a laundry basket and walk around the house picking up shoes, underwear, socks and towels. I also let the dogs out.
• 2200: I do my writing or work on bills.
• 0100: Bedtime for Dad (that is, if I haven’t already fallen asleep while sitting straight up in my desk chair holding down a key on the laptop; I’ve actually woken up at 3 a.m. with more than 250 pages of one letter typed repeatedly.)
• 0500: “Here we go again…”