I will preface this article by saying that I never in my wildest dreams imagined having 4 children at 4 different schools in New Orleans; however, as life would have it, that’s what happened. Am I crazy? Yes. Is it possible? Yes. Is it worth it? 100 percent, yes! So let me tell you how this came to be, and how we made what seemed to be impossible, possible.
First off, I have 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls. Originally, they all started off at the same local grammar school; however, the oldest flew the coop to attend an all-boys middle school in fifth grade. Following this, one by one, they all transitioned to different schools in New Orleans to best meet their needs. My husband and I discussed the challenges that this situation could present and the logistical nightmares that could arise; however, we knew the children would benefit from the change. We were ready for the challenge but knew that it would involve some very skilled juggling. If one ball dropped, everything would come crashing down. That’s when I got to work and established some guidelines for our family to keep things on track. Would there be some hiccups? Absolutely. But in the end, these tips, which I am about to share with you, would help me out tremendously. Whether you have one school or even five schools, these can all apply to help your family prepare for managing the school calendar.
Tip 1: Have a family meeting
At the beginning of the school year, I like to gather everyone together for a family meeting. This is when we sit down and talk about the logistics of the school year such as drop-off times, pick-up times, and after-school activities. From there, we develop a game plan, and everyone knows what is going on. The key is to make the children aware of all the moving parts; that way they can get involved and help.
Tip 2: Have the kids be in charge
At the beginning of the year, I always add important dates to my calendar; however, we all know that events get added at the last minute. Eventually, I gave my kids the task of coming to me daily with extra papers that needed to be signed or events that needed to be added to my calendar. The benefit of this approach is that it gave them a sense of ownership and by the time they got to high school, they were keeping track of their own events and deadlines. Another tip I shared with them is to be flexible. Life happens, and things always change.
Tip 3: Plan the night before
My motto has always been, “why put off for tomorrow, what you can do today?!” Meaning, every night I would have the children’s uniforms laid out and ready to go. In addition, if the child wanted their lunch made, they would have to tell me the night before and I’d prepare it for them. As they got older, they took over. This saved time in the morning and provided for a less stressful morning.
Tip 4: Utilize aftercare and carpools
With four schools, you can imagine that drop-off and pick-up times are all around the same time. To combat this logistical nightmare, we all knew that we would be leaving the house very early to make sure everyone was on time, and no one got a tardy. Inevitably, someone would be arriving early, whereas the last one would be getting to school right on time. As far as pick up, utilize aftercare! All 4 children had to be picked up around 3:15 pm which meant one would be picked up on time, one a little later, and the other 2 would be in aftercare. In addition, I often relied on friends to help me out for pick-up when I was running behind due to weather or just everyday life. Of course, another option is carpools. Unfortunately for us, it was simply easier for me to bring and pick up because there were too many variables involved.
As of late, I am now down to 3 schools, and I officially have 2 drivers in my home! With that being said, I only have one drop-off and pick-up. I have literally waited for this moment for a long time and it’s finally here. Despite all the craziness, I miss the times alone with them in the car where we could recap the day. 4 kids in 4 schools is definitely a challenge but doable as long as you have a game plan and stay organized. The fruit of this labor is watching your children thrive in their school, and knowing that it was worth the chaos and the gray hair.
Vivian Marino is a stay-at-home mom of 4 kids ages 17, 15, 13, and 7. She’s been married to her husband Mark for 18 years and they live in the New Orleans Lakefront area. When she’s not busy attending football games, soccer games, or doing endless loads of laundry, she enjoys her weekly date nights with her husband and spending time with her kids doing outdoor activities. Her passion is all things fitness given that she has her Master’s in Exercise Physiology. On any given day, you can find her doing her favorite Hour Blast class or trying any new workout out in town. During the summer months, she hits the mountains and the trails doing what she loves the most … hiking! The harder the climb, the better the view!