How to Handle a Little Sibling Whose Older Sibling Has Started School

School: for some, a nightmare to even think about. For others, like yours truly, a prime opportunity to shove my extroversion down the throats of anyone within arm’s reach. That being said, from the time I found out what school even was, I couldn’t wait to go. The activities! The people! The socializing! It all sounded so fantastic to my three-year-old self. Unfortunately, though, my brother, only 18 months my senior, left me and went off to pre-school without me. I was so abandoned! I clung to my Grammy and Grampa, my babysitters, as my newfound playmates, and there’s video footage of me talking ceaselessly while my Grampa sits there and repeatedly says, “uh-huh..yep..” to prove it. It was sad for us all. 

Why is this memory from over twenty years ago so fresh in my mind now? Well, my second-born son, my dazzling little extrovert, has been left in the dust as his older brother, 17 months his senior, has started pre-school. I feel your pain, little guy! Some days, he gets a little bummed, and from what he’s said, I can tell he’s itching to start school himself (you’ll regret this when you have to write that term paper your junior year of high school in my English class–lolz). To make matters a little easier on the poor kid, I’ve implemented some strategies to make him feel included.

You’ll more than likely start doing these for your younger children too, because I’m clearly a genius.

  1. Feed him breakfast in the car. Yep, just like his school-aged brother, I let him scarf down a cold pop-tart on our commute to his babysitter’s house each morning. There’s something about the thrill of rushing to eat your sub-par breakfast before you arrive somewhere that just screams, school day! It thrills him, and he promptly requests his cold pop-tart each morning after he’s buckled into his car seat. (If anyone asks, yes, I’d like a car detailing gift card for Christmas).
  2. Let him pack a backpack. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a real backpack. My little fella has adopted a Halloween Mickey Mouse trick-or-treat bag as his “backpack.” He puts lots of random shit in there: a toy truck, a pair of underwear, an acorn. It’s not what’s inside that counts, but the status of being a legit backpack-carrying big kid that really matters. 
  3. Convince him that his babysitters are his school friends. I could tell that he was feeling a little blue when his brother told stories about his school friends, so I convinced him that his grandparents, who babysit him, are his school friends! (Hey, that’s what I had to do when I was a kid, too). So now he’ll tell me, “My friend Poppy fed me Brussels sprouts!” Or “My friend Poppy took me to the park.” His friends spoil him, so it’s even better than actual kid friends who mostly just cough on you.
  4. Give him homework. His enthusiasm is at an all-time high for homework. He tried to take over his brother’s first at-home project, and I physically had to wrestle a glue stick out of his hand to prevent him from doing all of the work. Now, I give him random things to do and tell him it’s his homework: pick up your toys, it’s your homework!Color this picture, it’s your homework! Feed the dog, it’s your homework! It benefits me, okay?
  5. Play school. So the older brother now wants to be a teacher (and a police officer and a fire fighter and also a fire hydrant [wait, what!?]), so we have to play school. He’ll hold up a book for his little bro and show him where the spine is and how to determine whether it’s a hard or soft cover book. He makes him practice his colors and practice counting and letters. It’s freaking adorable, and it’s also a nice break from all of the fist fighting. Added bonus. 

So that’s what I’m doing to help my little extrovert cope with his brother moving on to pre-school without him. Next year, he’ll be right there too, and to that, all I can say is this: To my middle son’s teachers, I am so sorry in advance. At least he’s cute. 

4 Easy Hacks to Make School Days a Breeze

I can’t believe the time has finally come: my oldest son has started school! As a teacher myself, I’ve been anxiously and excitedly awaiting his schools days beginning. Projects, books, field trips, class parties–I live for this stuff!

However, there’s one thing I wasn’t looking forward to: getting all three of my young children out the door in the mornings before the sun had even made its appearance (and saying goodbye to our lazy summer mornings!).

I knew I had to do something to get us organized for school nights and mornings, so I scoured the Internet and then put my own twist on some of the hacks I found.

After one week of using these little tools, I’m thrilled to say that the week has gone so smoothly. Need some help getting organized? Check out what we’re doing in our house!

1. Drawers with Outfits for the Entire Week

I purchased small plastic stackable storage bins and placed them on top of the boys’ dresser. Each kid has his own drawer with a name label, and I plan all of their outfits for the week before it even starts, placing 5 school day outfits in each kid’s drawer. I do all of their laundry on either Saturday or Sunday, and I check the weather forecast that day (we’re in Ohio–it can be snowing one day and 95 degrees the next!).

It’s saved me from running around like a chicken with its head cut off at 5 a.m., and I don’t think I’ll ever not do this from here on out!

2. A Command Center

We’re only a few days into the school year, but I can already tell that there’s going to be a lot to remember! A school calendar, a class calendar, extracurriculars, and a babysitter shedule are enough to make a sane mom lose her mind! Well, I’m not going to do that!

To keep up with it all, I’ve designated a special closet door where I post it all in one place (plus my toddler’s potty training chart!), and I’m color coding the items on our master calendar (green ink for my 4-year-old, pink for me, black for family events, etc.).

3. Morning Routine Door Hangers

My kids love these things, and they were so incredibly easy to make! We bought plain wooden door hangers, acrylic paint, and clothes pins, the boys painted everything, and I used a sharpie to write each item they needed to accomplish.

Although they can’t read yet, I keep the items in a specific order for them so they know what’s what, but using a small sticker on each clothes pin would work really well with little ones!

The boys are excited each morning to move the items to the “done” side, and it helps to move things along!

4. Bedtime Routine Clock

This has been a true bedtime lifesaver! I bought a very inexpensive IKEA clock on Amazon, colored the face with magic markers, and wrote in what each color stood for. My 4-year-old did great with the routine the first night, but it took a few days for my 2-year-old to catch on. Now, they’re typically both in bed early (meaning no cranky kids in the morning!).

I hope we can keep up our awesome school day routine momentum throughout the year!

What are your best school day hacks?