How $10 is teaching my kids independence AND cutting down questions by 40%. At least.
Organizing is one of my love languages. Has always been. Now that I am mostly the solo cruise director of three kids, organization is a must. While I tend to keep all of the comings and goings in my head, it is no surprise that my kids do not. My kids, and maybe yours too, tend to function best when they know what is going on when. I tend to function best when I do not need to answer the same question one thousand times. Before Noon. We all function best when kids learn independence and the value of a schedule.
To help my kids and I keep it all together, I modified a weekly magnetic dry-erase board and affixed it to our coat closet. It was an under $10 project using a dry-erase magnet board from a craft store, business card magnets I had on hand, clear tape, our home printer and extra 3M strips. I purchased a dry erase board with a cork strip on the bottom as that was the one available at the store. I actually really appreciate that functionality now. The class lists remained there throughout the school year and any invitations or notes that pertain to the week are attached under the corresponding day. Honestly? A bit of a game changer. For all of us.
Here are a couple of (affiliate. Ahem.) links for ya. One that is really similar and under $10. But just barely. And one that is really pretty. And more than twice that. But you are getting four separate organizational pieces and it's gold and dots and really, really purty!
To maximize room, I used white out tape to “erase” the days of the week and rewrite them at the top of the board. We needed the space in the daily columns for appointments and reminders. To denote the day’s activities, I printed up pictures of our house (seven) and pictures of the kid’s schools (five and four respectively). I taped them to the magnets and voila – “school days” and “home days”. When not in use, the extra home or school days are just piled onto a matching magnet so they don’t get lost. It was super easy, super quick and really helps keep things moving more smoothly.
I update the week every Sunday night after the kids go to bed. Generally, five elementary school days, four preschool days and two home days. This year it will be five elementary school days. Can I get a friggin' A-MEN!!!?!!! We use a little magnet to show which day of the week we are on. I change it every night. Full disclosure – we used to use a pic of the family. Which I loved. But when we separated, it was a little painful for all of us. So we moved to a little round magnet we got on a family trip and it works just as well. Have fun with this part!! Maybe have it be your pet or favorite character or silly inside joke.
In addition to reminding the kids about the week’s activities, the calendar has become a great way to practice letters and create a language-rich environment for my emergent reader. Even though my younger son cannot read, his ability to recognize letters allows him to piece together what is happening during the week. For instance, he knows that our mother’s helper’s name is Megan, it starts with the letter “M” and she comes on the third school day. Using that knowledge he is able to attach meaning to text. The same goes for the weekends that he spends with his Dad.
We have also begun using the calendar to plan out my older son’s meals and whether or not he is buying lunch. We look at the online menu every Sunday and decide what days, if any, he is going to buy lunch. He marks the corresponding days on the calendar. This has become a wonderful help every night. A quick glance lets him know whether he is making only a snack or packing both a snack and lunch. Anything that makes an evening, or rushed morning, easier is a huge win in my book.
I am no Pinterest queen, I think the photo makes that pretty clear, but I do know the value of a routine and teaching kids to figure things out by themselves. Before I was a mom, I was a big sister, babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, and preschool and elementary school teacher. So, um, I kinda know what I am talking about. This has been instrumental in keeping our nights and mornings move more smoothly and putting little minds at ease in terms of their schedule. I have toyed with the idea of updating it and, sure, as the kids get busier I might need to invest in a larger calendar altogether. But for now, our calendar is well loved and I am kinda attached to its “good enough, we tried our best” vibe. That keeps our family sane, too.
Give this a share. While this example is family-friendly, it's good for any household. Think of how you could be changing lives!!