This week we’ve been talking about family routines- a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and an evening routine for the kids. Today we are going to talk about an evening routine for Moms. Now I know what you have in mind- a hot bubble bath, a good book, and perhaps a big glass of chardonnay…. but you are jumping right to the end-game there! First we need to get our family ready for the next day- so that we can all start that day in a calm and happy manner, instead of a crazed and panicked one! We’ll get to the wine…. I promise!
There are three main things that I do each evening to prepare my family for the next day:
- Get the kids clothes for the next day picked out and placed where they will get dressed. I have some kids who like to be involved in this process and have a very definite opinion about what they want to wear, and I have some kids who are more than happy to allow me to decide for them (ahhh…… so easy!). For the more opinionated little people in my life- I will sometimes work with them on Sunday nights to choose all of their outfits for the week- rather than try to get their attention each night at bedtime. That should work well in theory, except the little buggers change their minds half-way through the week, and I end up starting over again anyway!
- Make sure that all homework, permission slips, library books, band instruments, etc- are packed up in the backpacks and ready to go. (Well- one of my sons plays the bass- so it doesn’t quite fit in the backpack, but you get the idea!)
- Prepare the lunches and snack bags for the next day. And this is the one that takes me a while…
If I was “on top of my game” and got all of the lunch and snack bags unloaded from the backpacks, contents cleaned up, put into the dishwasher, and actually have run the dishwasher- then I can begin! But if I didn’t accomplish all of that- then I have to wait for some clean water bottles and plastic containers before I can get rolling.
Time for some full disclosure here….. as we are a large family who carries a large “carbon-footprint”- I try where possible to be kind to the environment- so I have switched to all reusable plastic containers, aluminum or plastic (BPA-free of course!) refillable water bottles, and cloth napkins….. no really- I swear I have. And now you are thinking that I am just a crazy tree-hugging mama (no offense to all the tree huggers out there!) who you can’t possibly relate to….. but if you can imagine how much garbage my six kids would create every week if I packed everything into throw-away baggies, one-time-use water bottles, and paper napkins- well, we would be able to fill a dumpster in no time! So a year ago I made a commitment to my family to try to “do the right thing”…. so here I am, trying to do just that.
So I line up the water bottles and refill them- water for most of the kids, and lemonade for those that can’t drink anything without a flavor! If it is one of those days when no one is buying the school lunch- that’s 12 bottles! Next I make up little containers of fruit- usually grapes, cut-up strawberries, applesauce, etc- and that all goes into the fridge to be added to the bags the next day. Next come the little containers of something crunchy, and also little containers of ketchup, for those that need it for dunking….. I will then get out the containers that I will use to pack up the entree in the morning- so either a thermos or a sandwich box for each child. And finally I will wash any apples and add in the snacks- sometimes a pre-packaged item such as a granola bar (I know, I’m a slacker right- not making my own and putitng them in a reusuable container!), or sometimes I will make up a snack container of something like goldfish crackers, etc.
All of this gets assembled like this:
where it waits for me until morning. While the kids are eating their breakfast (while speaking nicely to one another and NOT hitting, chanting, name calling, or throwing food) I will grab all of the cold items out of the fridge, add in yogurts, cheese sticks, etc into the snack bags, make up the entree items, and then pack up 12 of these little bags into 6 backpacks (very heavy backpacks now) so the kids are ready to head out the door.
And that’s how I make the lunches…..
Okay- back to the evening routine for Mom. Once all of this is done, and the little ones are tucked snug in their beds (with visions of DS games, ponies, puppies, toy trucks, dancing in their heads), it is MOM-TIME! Start running that hot bath and break out that bottle of wine! Just like I do- every night! Okay- maybe not really….. actually the sad thing is that I am usually so tired at this point that I just collapse and fall asleep the minute I sit down on the bed. In the hopes of doing a better job of taking care of myself- I actually took the time to write up some lovely reminders just for me- such as to wash my face and brush my teeth and kiss my husband good night… and I put those thoughts into this beautiful frame that sits right on my nightstand…