A visual representation of what my brain looks like right now, trying to balance the crazy of the back-to-school rush.
I can't even believe we are having this conversation already...but here we are. It's back to school time. The reality is that my kids start school in two weeks. TWO weeks! Two! How does summer go by so quickly?
This year I will have three kids in school. Presley will be going to first grade while Easton and Sawyer will be going to Kindergarten together.
I'm still fairly new to this whole "back to school" game, but I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way. I still have great relationships with some of my old teachers as well as having some awesome fellow mom friends who have done this a couple dozen times before me. They all have taught me a thing or two that I would love to share with all of you!
School supplies are expensive, I know.
BUT I know that teachers spend way more money out of their own pockets than they need to for these supplies. If you have to, space out your spending. You don't have to buy everything in one shopping trip. Ask family to pitch in if need be. Check out the dollar store! What I usually do is go to a few different stores and compare prices. Hey, saving five dollars is saving five dollars!
Our kids are reusing their backpacks from last year. They're in perfectly good condition and the kids are excited to use them again. You don't have to buy a new backpack every year, but I also know the excitement that comes with getting a brand new one. If your kiddos are little, just reuse the one they already have!
They did get to pick out new lunch boxes because those things are nasty at the end of the year. (insert nervously smiling emoji)
I am a big supporter of stores like Ross, TJ MAXX, Burlington and Marshalls. You can find name brand items for a lot cheaper there. While I love Target for their cute selection of clothes, I always find awesome deals in those other four stores, as well. Six kids to clothe, over here so I'm always looking for a bargain!
You know what else I am a huge fan of? Children's resale stores. I usually browse through them a few weeks before school and then again during the week school starts. Their prices are at least half of what you pay in the big box stores and their items are usually last year's style. Good thing five and six year olds have no idea what fashion styles even mean!
Save your money, mamas! Google a resale store near you and then while you're at it, Google where the closest "Just Between Friends" events are. Our next one is August 22nd and then again in November. They're a game changer!
I can't tell you how many times I've spent money on shoes, only for my kids to completely destroy them a week later. Some brands just don't make shoes to last. Sure they're super cute! But for kids, you NEED functional! It took me awhile to learn my lesson there. But now? I am a huge Adidas fan. I just feel like they last the longest and are the most durable for my active kiddos. They're the only ones who hold up well and stay nicer, longer.
I just went to the mall with Sawyer and we meandered into the Adidas store so I could scope out the pairs I would buy for the season. She fell in love with these super cute pink ones and I fell in love with the price! We couldn't pass them up.
Preparing the kids for school life again
1. Print off pictures of the teachers
One of the best tips I was ever given was by my second grade teacher, whom I still talk to! She told me to go to the school's website and print off pictures of all of the teachers in your child's particular grade. So for Presley, there's three first grade teachers. So I went to the elementary's website, printed off all of their pictures and hung them up on our fridge for her to see. I did the same for the kindergarten teachers. That way, they can recognize all of their faces before they even meet them. It helps ease the anxiety when they already know what the teachers look like. It really does just help them to start adjusting to the new school year.
Then once we know who each of their teachers will be once we attend the back-to-school night event, I will also take a picture of them with their specific teacher. I will print that off as well and hang that up so they can get even more comfortable with the idea of who they will spend the next school year with. It helps to see themselves standing next to this new teacher, so they can see that this teacher has welcomed them into her life, as well.
2. Morning and night clocks
I posted our meal clock last year, but this year I added two new ones for my school aged kids. I made one for the morning, to help them know what they're supposed to be doing at any given time.
Then I made one for the evening to help us get into a rhythm of after-school and bed time routines.
I teach the kids what each color stands for. It takes about two days before they all are on board with each meaning.
The twins will still use the other clock since they aren't in school yet.
3. Start your schedule routine a week beforehand
It takes kids a little bit to get adjusted to any new change. School life is a big adjustment after having so many weeks of relaxed living. So starting this next week, we are going to start putting them to bed at the time we would during the school year. We all know kids thrive with routines. It's best to just get it going early!
Keeping a healthy lifestyle with busy fall schedules
Fall is super busy. Fall is when it starts getting colder. We can all tend to fall down the rabbit hole of unhealthy eating and less exercise. We're really big creatures of habit. "It's getting chilly, bundle up inside!"
But it doesn't have to be like that! We live in Colorado where there's a million things to do in every season. But I know what it's like to feel like you live somewhere that doesn't have many opportunities for fun throughout the fall and winter.
So here's some tips!
1. Meal Plan!
I can't preach this enough! Throughout the summer, it's easier to plan meals on the fly. But when it starts getting colder, it's not so easy to run to the grocery store twice a day for things you forget.
Plan it out for the week!
Make a list of every meal you'll cook Monday-Saturday on a dry erase board. (I got our glass one at Walmart for $8!) It helps keep things more organized and also shows the others in the house the plan for the week. It helps with the whole guessing game of what dinner will be.
Once you figure out what each day's meal will be, break the list down to the specific ingredients you need and take that list to the store with you on Sunday. Buy everything you need for the week. Sure you'll have to go back for fruits and veggies maybe once or twice, but buy the "big ticket" items you'll need for meals on Sunday.
2. Have the kids help prepare dinner
We bought these awesome knives from Amazon for $8 and it's the perfect way to get kids involved with our meals. I let them cut up all of the fruits and veggies needed for any recipe and I think that by having them involved, it really helps them WANT to eat the meal.
3. Find a local nature trail
Thankfully for us, one is right in our neighborhood. But most cities are adopting the idea of nature trails more and more. Do a quick Google search for one close to you!
Our kids love to ride their bikes down the trail while Tim and I either run or walk. It's a really great way to spend a little extra time with the kids just unwinding. Plus everyone is getting exercise, together! We love to head over there with the kids after dinner, during their "free time" space on the clock.
Sometimes they will just walk with us and it's a great way to hear all about their day.
They also get to explore the outdoors a little more too, which is a win for everyone!
4. Extra curricular activities
We love soccer and gymnastics around here. There's usually a soccer program at your local YMCA and there's lots of gyms all over that offer gymnastics classes for kiddos. Easton is going to start karate as well this fall. Our girls weren't big on ballet or dance, but those are great options, too! Having an organized activity to attend broadens their experiences. I really believe that kids thrive while getting to try out new things.
Plus - staying active leads to a healthier life!
Setting my own goals for the fall
I just had a baby in May so I'm slowly getting back into it. I've had some weird post-partum symptoms so getting back into working out has been a little bit of a hurdle. I guess my body is just making me take it slower than I expected.
I know some people enjoy working out in the comfort of their own home, but that is NOT me. I need other people to motivate me. It's totally the athlete in me. I eye someone in the class and they become my motivation. I have to be just as fast and as strong as that person. I want my arms to look as defined as that person. I want to be able to squat as low as that person. I could never get through the tough reps on my own. I need people around me to keep me going.
My favorite workout so far? Les Mills Body Pump. Seriously, Google it. Click here and type in your zip code to find a class near you. I started doing it twice a week.
Then I follow that up with some kid of cardio class once or twice a week to burn a lot of calories. I feel like cycling is the cool thing to do right now but I just can't get into it. I love interval type classes with circuits. Or even just a regular boot camp where you do all sorts of exercises. Any of those will get my heart rate up and make me work for those sweets I might want later. (I'm a nursing mom. I still have crazy cravings!)
I also have a personal goal of making my handstands prettier. The competitive 12 year old gymnast in me is reaaaal disappointed! But I also think maybe gravity pulls on this post-six-kids mama body a liiiiiiittle differently than it used to!
So let's talk real quick about workout clothes since we are on the topic! In the summer time I only wear flowy shorts, but in the winter time I love leggings...like every other woman on the planet ;)
I'm a huge fan of Adidas leggings. They're one of the few leggings that just FIT...you know what I mean? They hug all of the curves, but don't over-squeeze them. My post-baby bod doesn't need the extra squeeze. I've worn a lot of leggings in my day and these are the best. If you haven't tried them, run to your local store and try some on.
I'm also a big fan of their zip ups. I live for zip ups in the fall and winter! They are so light weight, yet keep you warm enough when you're burning off all of those calories in the cold. Not to mention the fact that I think they're just so cute and give you an added fashion point.
If you're looking to spruce up your fall wardrobe in the exercise department, check out my favorites below!
Happy back-t0-school and happy busy-fall-schedules to all of you mamas out there! And happy new-goal-setting for all of you trying to get back into it after a much needed lazy summer!
God speed, ya'll. God speed.