Something amazing happened recently. A life-changing something that means I can sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and drink THE ENTIRE CUP without reheating, spilling, or accidentally peeing on myself because someone jumped on my bladder.
I’m talking, of course, about THE KIDS GOING BACK TO SCHOOL! In person! It’s amazing. It’s tremendous! It’s life-giving! I am unabashedly excited about this change! And my kids are so happy to be back with friends again!
But with all the rejoicing we have going on, we’ve had to make some adjustments into this transition. It’s been more than a year of all pajamas, all the time, so trying to wrestle them into clothes every morning and get their hair looking less squirrelly and more curly has turned out to be more of a challenge than I remembered. This week it’s warm enough that I even need to get dressed myself, instead of pulling a “winter mom” fakeout and zipping the puffer coat all the way up over whatever mystery clothing is underneath.
Transitions, even good ones, can be difficult for all of us. How can we set up our kids for success as they get back into the school routine?
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in order for our kids to reach their full potential (in this case, learning things at school), some basic needs must be met first. As we get used to this new phase of life, I’ve found a few things that help my family get these needs met while getting rolling in the mornings and prepped for the day!
Food, Water, and Clothing:
- I made a checklist in the Notes App on my phone to check off every morning for each backpack. Mittens, snow pants, water bottles (no water fountains!), snacks, lunch, mask, extra backup mask, homework folder, etc. My 6-year-old can do her backpack by herself if she has the list she can check off, or I can call out each item and she gets to say “check!” which for some reason is much more fun than putting items into the backpack without yelling “check!”
- Normally with fruits and veggies, I feel like I’m only including them in lunches to make myself look like a Good Mom™ because the kids just don’t eat them. We just send them out for a daily walk—veggies are tired of quarantine too! But I have figured out a few tricks! Like “magic apples” that the kids enjoy eating—I learned this trick on TikTok. Cut down each side of the apple nearly to the bottom, but leave the bottom part connected, so the apple stays together. Make slices this way on each side around the core. Sometimes I put a strip of plastic wrap around it to make sure it stays together but the kids love snapping off a slice at a time, and the apple usually doesn’t come back!
- On top of the obvious safety issues about wearing proper snow gear in subzero weather and using car seats correctly, we live in a city area with street parking and busy parking lots at schools. I have a super corny rhyme we recite together every time we get to the street—“Look to the left! Look to the right! Is there a car? Not in sight!” This meets literally zero of my emotional needs to look like an intelligent human, but it has really helped the kids to form a safety habit before stepping off the sidewalk. As a disabled Mom who cannot run after my children, it’s extra important to me that they learn to do these safety habits independently.
Love and Belonging:
- My youngest is in preschool and while she loves school, she recently started crying at drop-off time and not wanting to leave. She’s never had any complaints about school and always says she likes it, but she just misses her mommy. So I started getting up earlier and being intentional about spending time with her before she leaves in the morning. She gets up fairly early anyway, so it was more about being focused on reading books, talking, and forcing my pre-coffee self to act caffeinated before we leave for school. She has no idea what kind of love it takes for me to connect with people before coffee. After a few days of this, the drop-off times quickly improved! I was really surprised what a difference it made, especially since people wanting to talk to me in the mornings always makes me MORE grouchy, not less. Reminder—your kids are not small replicas of yourself.
I don’t know if your kids are back in school yet or not, but there’s hope! It will be an adjustment—no more all-day pjs—but that first day of silence in your home will be beautiful! Drive through a coffee shop on the way home and enjoy the entire cup while it’s hot, just for fun.
Anita Matta grew up in Belize as a missionary kid. She has lived in 3 countries and traveled on 5 continents but can’t resist the allure of subzero winters so she now lives in MN with her Egyptian husband and two daughters. She blogs about God, motherhood, disability, and appreciating beauty at anitamatta.com, and pretends to be trendy by posting pictures of coffee as @anitafmatta on Instagram.