There is nothing I love more than a plan. Well, okay…I love labels, containers and my family, but having a plan is how I tackle the chaos of life with kids. Until now, all of my kids have gone to a mom’s morning out program since they’ve turned one, but this year my five –year-old will be in the city school system and it feels like a new beast. By Erin Guerreri, Mom’s Council
For the first time, I don’t have complete control of the calendar, and there are things like curriculum nights, school holidays and PTA meetings that are making my control-freak self feel short of breath. Fortunately, I don’t mind coming up with a new plan – one with new experiences around every corner. And, what better reason to get a new calendar and some fun, new pens?!
Pretty quickly, I realized that most of our considerations have to do with food. In addition to daily lunches, we are also responsible for a classroom snack once/month. Our family follows a “mostly gluten free” diet so finding lunch foods that a). appeal to a 5-year-old, b). satisfy a ravenous 5-year old and c). do not contain any nuts is proving rather challenging. So far, we’re doing a lot of nitrate free deli meat, vegetables, fruit and corn chips, but I’m always on the hunt for new lunch items!
Each month, the school sends the cafeteria menu home so we are going to choose one meal/week my son would like to buy. Not only will this help us to think and talk about healthy food choices as a family, but it will afford my son the opportunity to learn some important skills like waiting patiently in line, carrying the tray to his seat and returning his tray.
In addition to planning for food, I plan to include the classroom learning themes in as much as I can on the home front. If the letter of the week is “K,” we’ll practice writing the letter “K” with sidewalk chalk, eat “K” foods like kale and kumquats and probably create a word wall where we jot down “K” words we come across throughout our day. Each month, we’ll get a calendar of themes and I’ll match it up with my calendar to see where we can in some commonly themed activities.
One thing I’ve found with planning is that it doesn’t help much if I don’t put it all on one common calendar. This can mean there are a lot of things on one calendar, but I do a lot of color coding to help me keep it organized. All of the school holidays are highlighted in blue, meetings are in orange, days we have snack or are buying lunch are in pink, etc.
I know there will be unexpected events that throw things out of whack, but thinking through the school year – even if it’s just one month at a time – helps me feel more calm and prepared as we head into this new world.