School Routines

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Routines: they give us structure, they give us security, and they give us comfort. With going back to school in the next week or so, kids’ daily routines are about to change dramatically.

Say goodbye to those lazy, don’t-have-to-do-anything days of summer and hello to the mad rush that is the school year. But kids aren’t the only ones in the house about to have their schedules turned upside down; those of parents and grandparents will too.

Keep reading, Dear Reader, and you may find many of the summertime routines around your house are about to change in the very same way as ours.

Kids’ summer routine. It was 7:30 a.m. at our house. The Wife was leaving for work and our two granddaughters were still not up. When I asked what I should do, she replied, “It’s summer. Let them sleep.”

The Girly Girls got up an hour later, got dressed, and watched TV while eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and having their hair done. By 10:00 a.m. they were ready to leave the house for our hike. After dinner, long bath times are the norm, followed by a late-night movie night and then bedtime by 9:00-ish.

When school starts, here’s how the Girly Girls’ morning routine will change. No later than 6:00 a.m., an alarm will wake them up. They’ll eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, do hair, double check to make sure everything is in book bags, and grab their lunch boxes and water bottles. If there is time (and that’s a big if!) the TV can be turned on for a few minutes.

By 6:50 a.m. the girls will climb into the “Papa Bus,” and I’ll drive them to school. After pulling into the parking lot, there’ll be just enough time for them to hear a story or two about those kids from Flamingo before disembarking and starting their day. Any deviation from the school routine will make the wheels fall off the entire morning.

Afternoons will also drastically change for kids back at school. After being picked up, they’ll rush home to do homework, eat a quickly made dinner before getting dropped off at soccer. Then it’ll back home for a quick bath and if there’s time (which there normally won’t be), a little TV before their 8:00 p.m. bedtime.

Parents and grandparents’ summer routine. Around our house it goes something like this: The parent or grandparent who stays home during the summer lets children sleep for as long as they want. During the day, kids get three meals, snacks every three hours so no one gets “hangry,” and lots of outside activities. Play dates are managed, all arguments are defused, and most importantly, no one gets hurt.

If all the above is done correctly, the adult can make an uninterrupted phone call or two during the day. But that’s another big if and normally doesn’t happen.

To wear out the kids so they will sleep all night, the parent or grandparent must be very active with them, resulting in them too being worn out by the end of the day. An hour before the grownup has to start cooking dinner, the kids play inside the house, affording the grownup a little quiet/nap time.

After the school year starts, once kids are dropped off at school, the grownups have “free time” to squeeze everything they need to do into the precious few hours before the afternoon pickup begins.

This usually involves, but is not limited to, laundry, grocery shopping, banking, or even a little house cleaning. In the afternoon, with sufficient snacks and drinks onboard, they enter the carpool line half an hour before school lets out, and they wait, and wait, and then wait some more.

Once back at the house, they help with homework, cook dinner, drive the kids to soccer (or other activities) and then sit and wait until practice is over. Then it’s a rush back home, for bath and then bedtime.

If they’re lucky, and get everything done, they’re rewarded with a little time with their significant other before bedtime. That is if they can even go to sleep because of worrying if they said or did anything wrong. Around 5:00 a.m. the day begins again.

Sick day. When a child is sick, trust me, throw out all the above. Absolutely nothing gets done. Instead add a whole bunch of other stuff like a ton of stress and a doctor’s visit, if you can get in. While at the doctor’s office, you’ll understand why they call it a waiting room. Then you rush to get prescriptions filled and then back to the car line to pick up other kids. If you think you’re tired after a regular day watching kids, doing this while also taking care of a sick one will bring being tired to a whole new level.

Whether it’s the summer routine, school routine, or even a sick day routine, I love doing it all. Is it stressful? Sometimes. But one hug makes all the stress disappear. More importantly, it means I’m a part of our granddaughters’ lives and get to watch them grow into beautiful young ladies.

Just wish they wouldn’t grow up so fast – something I tell them every day. Many years from now, they’ll graduate from school, possibly get married, and move away — leaving me with nothing to do all day.

Now that’s a routine I wouldn’t like. No, not at all.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]