This post is sponsored by the Goldfish Brand, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
School starts for both of my big girls today, and I just can hardly believe it.
It’ll be a great year, I hope, and I’m excited for both of them, but it’s a huge change for our family to have them both gone so much.
This past eighteen months, since Ella stopped going to part-time kindergarten, all the girls have been home pretty much all the time (the most anyone has been gone was Ani’s two hours of preschool twice a week last year).
So having Ella gone for around 35 hours a week and Ani gone 15 hours a week will be wildly different.
Because they’ve always been with me, I haven’t felt like I had to work very hard to spend quality time with them because even if it wasn’t always quality, there was so. much. quantity.
With this shifting schedule though, I feel really anxious about making sure that I have time to connect with them even with significantly reduced time.
Here are four ways I’m planning to stay close to them now that school has started:
Reading together before bed. Because we’ve done so much reading as part of homeschool, I haven’t consistently read to the big girls before bed. I always read a picture book or two to Star before I put her down for bed, but a chapter book has not been part of our bedtime routine for the older girls. Now I’m ready to add it in. Some of my very best childhood memories are of my mom reading aloud to us before bed while we would braid each others’ hair or paint our nails or crochet or color. I have a big list of books I’d love to read together this school year and I’m looking forward to this quiet time to end the day after the babies are in bed (Star would be offended that I’m categorizing her as a baby).
Prioritize after-school snack time. Since Ani is going to afternoon kinder prep, she’ll finish at the same time as Ella and we’ll all get home in the afternoon together. I want to make sure I’m focused and available to them as they decompress after the school day, instead of being distracted by my phone or a bunch of other household tasks. I’ve also always been lousy at actually buying snacks which means I’m scrambling to find something for them to eat when they’re starving, so I’m trying to be more proactive about buying snacks that I can keep on hand in the pantry and then supplement with some fresh fruit. I love these Goldfish® crackers that come in reusable bags because I can portion out as much or as little as I want and they stay fresh in the pantry.
Make it easy to say yes to spur-of-the-moment adventures. Right now, most adventures are too hot, but in a few months the weather will be gorgeous and I know the girls will want to stop at the playground on the way home or ride their bikes around the neighborhood. My dad said his parenting philosophy was to say yes as often as he could and I’m trying to be more like that (my default is, embarrassingly, not yes). I’m trying to be prepared for that by making sure to keep diapers and wipes in the car, water bottles, sunscreen, and snacks that won’t melt in a warm car like the Goldfish® Snacks Multi-Packs so that we aren’t derailed by the sun, a hungry toddler, or a baby that needs a change.
Wake up before they do so I can be present during breakfast and school drop-off. I’ve sometimes joked that one of the main reasons I homeschool is so that I don’t have to wake up early and get the kids out the door. Our leisurely mornings are gone for the school year, but I don’t want to be frantic and rushed every morning, so my plan is to wake up before the girls do so I can squeeze in a quick run and get ready for the day before they’re up and then I can focus on helping them get ready and eat breakfast instead of feeling stressed and behind from the moment I wake up. Hopefully Tally will do her part and sleep through the night more often so I can get enough sleep to make this happen. Cross your fingers for me.
What are your tricks for connecting with your kids when they’re in school full-time? This is a whole new ball game for me!
Photos by Christie Knight