SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

There are a lot of happy parents in my neck of the woods this week. The shelves in the stores have been picked over, uniforms washed and hung up, supply lists checked and re-checked.  All the lil angels head back to school Thursday in Bossier Parish, Monday in Caddo. At my school, the teachers have 6th grade orientation tomorrow and professional development the rest of the week. It’s an exciting time of the year.

It’s also potentially stressful. After sleeping until noon for 10 weeks or so, teens and tweens will be getting up before the sun. There are school fees to pay, book bags to pack, and schedules to figure out.  This is the 10th time I’ve started school as a mom, and I’ve figured a few things out.

This is a biggie.  My monkeys go to bed really early compared to most of their friends. However, we get up early at my house. Really early. Like 4am.  Monkey 1 is up by 530, and Monkey 2 about 615.  So 9 o’clock is reasonable.  Every summer (except this one!), we’ve transitioned back into bedtime by now.  If you can, about a week or two before school starts, send the kids to bed about 10-15 minutes earlier each night and you’ll be back on schedule by the time school starts.

Wake Ups
I usually try to address our mornings in  similar fashion.  However, I’m still struggling with even 6am, so this week will be really interesting.

I used to get anxiety if I didn’t have 12 boxes of cereal in the pantry.  I’m not so CDO anymore – about cereal.  I did take a few hours last week and make a bunch of instant oatmeal packets, and breakfast burritos.  I’m planning to freeze a bunch of pancakes, as well.  I like to be prepared for breakfast!  I also like to freeze yogurt and fruit. As long as the monkeys have a good breakfast, I feel like we’ve got a solid foundation.

Scheduling is a pain in my derrière. Grizzly plays pool three nights a week. One of the monkeys is in high school this year, which means after school clubs and ball games and tougher homework. The other monkey thankfully told me yesterday she’s not auditioning for the next SLT production, so we just have karate for her. The monkeys are at 2 different belt levels right now, so their karate classes are at different times. Both monkeys have catechism and are altar servers. And I’m teaching Yearbook this year, so I’m sure I’ll have to work later. Oy!

I use my Google calendar religiously, with phone reminders and all. However, in my handy dandy notebook, I have a calendar I printed from MS Publisher. I’ve already filled in the Caddo school calendar. I’ll add other scheduling things as they come up. We are getting to the point where one grown will have to tote one monkey one place, the others go another.

My calendar is color coded based on who the different things apply to. Grizzly is dark blue, monkey 1 light blue, monkey 2 pink, both monkeys (belt testing, lock ins, etc) purple, and I’m red. I’ve used black if it’s the whole fam but Granny-at-the-Farm thinks that’s not appropriate. I’ll figure it out.

I duplicate my binder calendar on my wall calendar in the kitchen. It has come in handy, because even if I don’t look, the monkeys do!

Meal Planning
Ideally, I would have my meals planned out beautifully and have everything ready to go. Haha. In real life, I have a kind of general idea of what’s going on meal wise.

I love to freezer cook. Specifically, I love freezer to crockpot meals. Occasionally, the mood will strike me and I’ll put together 15 or so bags for the crockpot. The only “plan” I can commit to is the crockpot on Monday, because after a long faculty meeting, I have no interest in cooking. We try to have dinner out once a week. I do try to keep spaghettios or some kind if convenience item on hand for crazy nights or one of Grizzly’s nights out – the monkeys want to be fed if I’m hungry or not.

If you can get organized and meal plan, things will run more smoothly in the evening. I’m getting there.

These are just a few ideas I’ve thought about today. What are you doing to get ready for school?

~ Katie

Posted from WordPress for Android


My to-do lists seem excessive and redundant to many people.  However, listing is my way of functioning.  (Is there a learning style for that?)  Repetition develops habits.  After I’ve used the same checklist for a while, it just becomes a habit and I don’t really need my list.

One area that needed addressing in The House of Cheaptitude was morning routines.  We have two adults, two monkeys, and a four-legged monkey buddy to get moving each day.  Often I find myself already in my classroom and my phone rings because “Monkey #2 says her coat is in your car.” Or “Monkey #1 left his gym clothes on the kitchen table.  How are we handling this?”

Of course, one-half of we is across the bridge and preparing for a day of educating eighth graders.

This is one of those problem areas where checklists and routines come in to save the day.

Many of those tasks that we complete in the morning can either be done the night before or at least set up to be done.  Here are some of the things on my night-time list:

  • Finish kitchen chores:  Nothing is ickier than waking to a full counter and dirty sink.  I like to take care of everything before bed, when possible, running the dishwasher at night.  If I have spare time in the morning, I can put things away.  Otherwise, Monkey #1 can do it after school.
  • Prepare any sack lunches:  I pack my lunch every day for work.  I’m a creature of habit: peanut butter or cheese sandwich, a handful of tortilla chips, and something semi-sweet, like a granola bar or applesauce cup.  The monkeys only want to pack a lunch when there are cookies around.
  • Prepare for breakfast: I make sure the cereal containers have cereal in them because I hate the way the monkeys open boxes.  I also make sure we have bowls and spoons clean (don’t ask!)  Some organizing gurus suggest setting the table, but the monkeys eat at different times (one leaves a full hour ahead of the other) and Grizzly and I don’t have a sit-down breakfast.  Besides, if I take the time to lay out bowls and spoons, that will be the day the monkeys want toast or waffles.
  • Set the coffee pot:  My coffee pot has a timer, thank goodness, and when I get up most mornings that black gold is waiting for me.  If yours doesn’t have a timer, set it up anyway so that all you have to do is turn it on in the morning.  It saves a full 3-5 minutes.
  • Lay out clothes for the morning:  The monkeys always put them in the same spot, the coffee table.  My monkeys are in uniform schools, which should make it easier, but really doesn’t.  Their closets are arranged by function (school or home) and color, which makes grabbing an outfit simple.  However, if I lay out a red shirt, that’s the day we wanted to wear navy.  When the forecast says it will be 32 degrees in the morning, Monkey #1 lays out shorts. We do check the weather forecast, and clothes need to be laid out right down to shoes, belts, and coats, if needed, so that parental units aren’t receiving those “I can’t find my sneakers and the bus will be here in two minutes” calls.  My work clothes are always on my dresser before I go to bed, and I very rarely change anything up the next morning.
  • Set your launchpad:  I do not have a “launchpad” right now, but the monkeys have to have their school bags packed and sitting by the coffee table before they go to bed.  My school bag is always either by my bed or in my comfy chair in the living room.  Everything is situated for “pick up and hit the door” in the mornings.
  • Check your to-do lists and calendar:  The night before, I check my calendar to see if we have anything major going on the next day, such as activities or meetings.  I double check my running to-do list and add anything to my daily list that I need to.  For example, on faculty meeting days, the monkeys hang out with PaPaw after school.  I don’t have to hurry home and can stop by the drugstore or the grocery if I need to. This also lets me know if I need to defrost anything for dinner or if I can just chunk a Crockpot meal in the Crockpot on my way out the door in the morning (more usually the case)
  • Make sure everyone has their alarms set to the correct time and actually turned on. Yes, there are some stories to go along with this.

My alarm jolts me out of bed between 4 and 4:30 every morning and I have to be out the door by 6:15.  By planning ahead and having consistent routines, I actually have leisure time in the mornings – to fold clothes, start the crockpot, or watch the news.  Instead of being rushed in the morning, my nighttime routines have squashed the chaos, allowing me to relax.

Do you have nightly routines?  Are your mornings a muddled mess?

~ Katie

Nightly To-Do List

{March 9, 2013}   Blog Interrupted….

I was up late last night, clearing the DVR, and procrastinating playing on the computer, but I was still wide awake by 6:30.  I love being up before the rest of the household!  I can relax, drink my coffee, fold laundry, watch tv uninterrupted in the living room that I love, curled up under my fuzzy blankie.  As much as I adore my family, I treasure my alone time.

It never lasts long.

Grizzly (and the rest of my coffee pot!) was out the door early to help Air Force Ken with some fence projects.

Monkey #2 was awake not too long after but declared it too windy to work on her project yet.  She asked me for a piece of paper so she can develop a plan to clean her room.  List Maker in Training?  She has drawn a grid of her bedroom and is coloring in squares as they are cleaned.  Remind me why she has a D in math right now.

Monkey #1 got out of bed long enough to grab his iWasteTime and hole back up in his room.  Gotta love a tween-ager.

I planned to post about the next section of my Household Management Binder, because those posts seem pretty popular, and then do some work around the house, but my ADD kicked in and I worked on some school things, sorted some mail, etc. etc. etc.  I have a to-do list started in my head that includes cleaning the kitchen, doing groceries, and restocking the freezers.  I finally came back to the laptop and my cellphone rang.  Peter Pan, one of Grizzly’s buddies, was out walking his sisters’ dogs and needed a smoke.

Blog interrupted.

But that’s ok.  Moms are multi-taskers and I’m used to demands on my time.

~ Katie



English: Sample budget

English: Sample budget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In order for life to run smoothly, I need lots of routines and structure.  Which is why the Ducks Unlimited dinner thing tonight threw me for a loop when I learned about it at lunch time.  I’m all about Grizzly going to his hunting support group, but it wasn’t on the calendar.


Part of developing routines and structure, for me, has been setting and sticking to a budget.  Do I still splurge occasionally?  Well, yes.  But I’m proud of my shrinking debt, my developing emergency fund, and my stockpiles.


Problem:  I hate to leave my house.  My Bunco Babes are worried about agoraphobia(spelling??).  I told them I’m not scared to leave, I just prefer not to.  I like to be home.  But this is becoming an issue.


I’ve not been going to the grocery.


I can feed my family of 5 (yes, the dog counts) and take care of the house (cleaning stuff, paper goods) pretty handily for $50/week.  Between coupons, sales ads, and store loyalty cards, it’s a lot of fun for me.  But to do this, I need to keep up my stockpiles.  And they are dwindling.


Because I haven’t been shopping.


Mind you, I haven’t bought shampoo or deodorant in at least a year, and I just recently bought toilet tissue.  But my deep freeze has blank spots. My cereals, of which my comfort level is set at 12, have almost disappeared.  I’m scraping things together for dinner (easy recipe to be shared soon!) and lunch snacks are nonexistent.


When did staying home become more necessary than maintaining my tight budget?


A lesson I am learning is that to save so much money on my grocery trips, I will have to be diligent about shopping.  I have to spend that $50 each week, or else I’ll be paying much more later on.  There is an old saying that t make money, you must spend money.  Well, to save money, I have to spend money, too.


So the grocery is about to be added to the calendar every week.  This will re-establish one of my routines.  Hopefully, this hasn’t been a terribly expensive lesson!


What is your budget-buster?  Can you figure out what causes it and how to change it?


~ Katie




et cetera
%d bloggers like this: