By contributing writer Colleen
Summer is over and it’s time to get back in the homeschool groove. Even if you school year-round, it’s likely that you belong to some classes or co-ops, or participate in outside activities in some way. That means that, like me, you’ll need to let go of the lazy summer morning mentality, and get yourself out the door on time.
While I’ll never be the one that always arrives fresh and early to co-op, ready to coordinate all the last-minute details, I have developed some strategies that work for our family of four kids (including a toddler) that help get us out the door on time and with no fighting.
Lay Out Clothes the Night Before
Yes, mom, even your own clothes!
I’m usually the last one in bed at night, so I lay all of our outfits, down to the socks and shoes, on the couch in separate piles. I tend to put my clothes and the toddler’s clothes on his changing table so I can get dressed right before I get him going. I wake the bigger kids up and direct them out to get their clothes and then they scatter. My 11 year old heads to the bathroom to dress, my four year old gets dressed right in the family room, and my seven year old makes a beeline for her room.
Pajamas get folded and placed on their beds if they’re wearing them again, or thrown down the chute if they need to be washed. Then we all head into the kitchen.
Prepare Breakfast the Night Before
On co-op or class days, I don’t cook. The night before, I set the table with the makings for cereal, yogurt and granola, or muffins and fruit.
- Cereal: Boxes or containers with cereal are set in the middle of the table, bowls, spoons, and napkins are at the kids’ places, and milk is accessible in the refrigerator. They can serve themselves and the oldest helps the toddler manage without too many messes (hopefully).
- Yogurt and Granola: We make our own, so I leave the mason jars of plain yogurt in the refrigerator, put out bowls and spoons, and set out a variety of mix-ins, such as granola, dried fruit, nuts, honey, cinnamon, and fruit. Make your own granola with this easy and delicious recipe.
- Muffins and Fruit: I do not bake muffins on days when we need to be out of the house, but on days we’re staying home, I often bake double and triple batches and put the extras in the freezer. When I am preparing the table for the next day, I pull them out of the freezer, put the muffins on a platter, cover them loosely, and let them thaw overnight. If the kids want them warmed, my 11 year old takes care of that using the microwave. I also set out a big bowl of fruit so the kids can pick what they want from it.
Try these muffin recipes and find your family’s favorite:
- Whole Wheat Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
- Brown Sugar Cinnamon Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Honey Pumpkin Muffins
- Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
- Whole Wheat Mocha Banana Muffins
Load the Car
I try to load as much as I can the night before. With four kids, this can be quite a lot of stuff. For co-op days that includes the materials I need to teach two or three classes (depending on the semester), a diaper bag for the toddler, extra clothes for my accident-prone preschooler, snacks and lunches, water bottles, and kids’ backpacks and supplies.
Class materials, backpacks, extra clothes, and even snacks and water bottles can be prepared the night before and loaded. I fill the kids’ water bottles at night and put them in the refrigerator to wait. All we need to do in the morning after breakfast is grab lunches and water bottles and hop in the van.
Prepare Travel Friendly Foods
I spend some time on the weekends cutting veggies, fruit, and cheese cubes. That way, I can gather healthy snacks and lunches really easily. We buy very little prepackaged snack items, preferring to bake cookies, granola bars, and to make trail mixes in large batches. This makes it easy to pull together snacks and lunches without having to rely on high priced and heavily processed food items.
Program the Coffee Pot
Okay, so this one may be just for me, but I need my coffee in the morning. I need my first cup before anyone speaks to me, and having it ready for me when I wake up is such a blessing. (If you have a Keurig or other instant, single-serve pot, disregard this.) And yes, I need more than one cup, so I tend to refill at least once while I’m still home. I also take a thermos to stash in the stroller at co-op.
Remember, above all things, that you homeschool to provide your kids with the best of all educational opportunities and to help instill a love of learning and an appreciation for family. If you’re stressed and yelling every time you leave the house, your kids will not have the best memories of family outings, and they’ll tend to dread these days.
When you take time to prepare ahead, you are taking the time to slow down and enjoy your family. Reducing stress always begins with us, moms. Take the time to eliminate stress on busy mornings by preparing ahead, and your family will thrive.