Our family kicked off in 2022 with both our daughters going to school. It was a particular time for our family, as Alice began preschool at her sister’s preschool alma mater. Her first day was a homecoming for us (even with Alice’s inevitable tears) because the preschool community had become an extended family of sorts. We couldn’t wait for Alice to have the same wonderful experience as her older sister. At the same time, we knew that having both children in school would add new challenges to our work week, especially for the first month. But I am a little savvier now, so the growing pains are not as painful as the first time with our older daughter Ilse. I’ve developed a few time-saving tips to save us time and sanity. They work as well for a family with one kid as they do for families with more than one.
- Prep what you can in advance.
I am following the same rules I did when Ilse was attending preschool. I prepare as much as I can on Sunday before the workweek. I prep outfits, restock backpacks and prepare non-perishable lunch items for the school week. A little extra effort on Sunday makes for a relaxed start to the school week and gives me a little time to chug that second cup of coffee. Backpacks and lunchboxes are also cleaned and restocked nightly. Advanced prep alleviates last-minute “out the door” scrambling and ensures we leave the house on time every day.
2. Stock the fridge with essentials for quick meals
My daughters like hot lunches, lots of snacks and eat similar foods. I prepare all their non-perishable snacks the night before. I stock the fridge with cooked rice, fresh noodles, diced meats, and their favorite vegetables in plastic, resealable containers. I prepare the same hot lunch for both and include their favorite vegetables. I also try to plan dinners for the week. Planning dinners helps us consume the groceries we have versus resort to takeout. One of our favorite quick dinners is “Tupperware Reclamation” night, where we reclaim our Tupperware by having a dinner composed of all the random odds and ends we have in our fridge. It’s a fun way to clear out the fridge for dinner.
3. Divide and Conquer
A few weeks before Alice began preschool, my husband and I discussed dividing children’s duties (pick up and drop off, meals, etc.). As working parents, we must share childcare responsibilities for our children. We have weekly discussions about our respective schedules. We keep an open chat during the day. When the duties are shared, there is less strain on one person.
4. Evaluate and edit occasionally.
Sometimes certain routines don’t work. That’s okay. Figure out one that does. For example, planning a week’s worth of outfits doesn’t work for Ilse because she likes to pick out her clothes in the morning. We are okay with that so long as she wakes up early enough to do so. Periodically, we check on our family’s routine to see how it’s working. If someone feels overworked, strained, or tired, we adjust accordingly.
Our schedule with two children in school is a work in progress. I am always thinking about getting us out the door faster and more efficiently. So far, just doing these four things is a huge help. What are your time-saving tips for getting your children to school? What would you add to this list?