Do your kids love back to school or hate it? When asked this question, my friend’s son said “I get pretty excited, but I know that it is fake excitement because by day two, I will wish it was summer again.” I couldn’t have put it better myself! Sometimes we are guilty of wishing away the moment, thinking what is coming next will be better or easier. This is why back to School is such a bitter-sweet. We love summertime around here. But there is a joy that comes with structure and learning, that we look forward to as well!
I actually used to dread things like- making lunches and my kids getting ready for the day!!! Anyone else wish they could start the mornings over?? Well I had one too many of those, so I implemented some new habits, and never looked back.
No matter your feelings on the subject, one thing all parents can agree on is that there is a degree of chaos that comes with busy school days. I have compiled a list of my favorite back to school hacks. Some are tried and true and have made all of the difference for us, and then there are some that we will test out this year in hopes it will make school time more pleasant for everyone.
Lunches Made Simple
Here is a hack I have done for years. We ALWAYS make lunches ahead of time! And my kids have actually been making them since they were in 3rd grade. We will share some of our go-to healthy and easy lunch ideas and snacks! Spoiler, leftovers make great lunches!
Thank you Walmart for sponsoring this post
The girls came up with a list of what they love to eat for lunches. We just require that they always have a veggie with their lunch and no added sugar in the foods.
PS- I found their cute overalls at Walmart.com along with some of their lunch containers. My kids basically just want a new backpack and lunch containers with each new school year. It is still pretty hot in CT when they start school, so we typically buy new clothes in September. But they both loved THESE Overalls and only $19! Walmart has become a place I shop for clothes, home decor and more. I love being able to order online, read reviews then I can easily send it back if it happens to not work. Also love their Premium Brands they now offer (shop HERE).
Also found the above jumper for Ella on Walmart.com, she is VERY particular and they both wanted the black jumper too! Find the black jumper HERE (only $15)
Typically Sundays we prep lunches for the week after church, great way to keep the kids busy too! We cut up veggies, wash fruit and sometimes make sandwiches that we can pop in the freezer! They are perfect by lunch time and stay fresh all week! We will often send the kids to school with leftovers from the night before. I have found that when my kids make the OWN lunch, they are more likely to EAT it. (I use THESE silicone bags to freeze pizza or sandwiches, really anything).
Lunch Box Thoughts-
- Bento style type lunch box and lunch boxes with a spot for heated food are the best!
- Avoid- BPA, LEAD, PHTHALATES when looking for lunch boxes
- Cut back on ziplock bags
- The individualized compartments in the lunch boxes make it easy for any kid to pack their own lunches and know exactly how much to put in
- In the long run, they can definitely save you money if you go pack your own lunch and go with a bento style box! From no zip lock bags to also no pre packaged food- do grapes, snap peas, cheese, nuts rather than pre packaged granola bars, chips, cookies etc
- Cold pizza
- Tomato soup and mini sandwich (tip is to make a bunch of sandwiches and freeze them for the week, they unthaw by lunch and are not soggy, we do put avocado mayo on them too)
- Homemade lunchable with wheat crackers, cheese and lunch meat
- Organic Annies Mac and Cheese
- Organic Pasta and Sugar Free Marinara Sauce
- Out kids always have to have a veggie in their lunch typically it is carrots or sweet peppers
- We believe in maintaining wellness and a lot of our wellness begins in the gut! So probiotics are important and eating our greens. I will admit it is hard to get kids to eat a lot of greens for lunch. So we focus on greens and a lot of veggies at dinner time. Or I make a green smoothie with spinach and I added a green multivitamin to it. (get smoothie recipe HERE)
We use THIS Yumbox for a lot of lunches. Love that it is BPA-Free, Phthalates-free and are CPSIA and FDA compliant.- Lightweight and compact with an easy-open latch. Wet foods stay in place and does not leak to other compartments. We do paleo waffles for lunch if they didn’t have them for breakfast. I do THIS homemade recipe. Or I buy Birch Benders Paleo Mix. Then I mix organic maple syrup with organic peanut butter to dip!
Pasta and sugar-free marinara is always a favorite. I do reheat it and add a little water to a pan on the stove so it doesn’t dry out. Then I pop it in an insulated container that keeps it warm until lunch (Love THIS lunch container!!)
Frozen pizza or homemade pizza is a great lunch idea. I cook it then freeze it and put it in their lunch frozen, it is the right temperature for lunch. We try to do everything organic, like a simple smoothie is a nice little addition. A homemade one is best- but for lunches we do this sometimes.
Homemade lunchable is a huge hit in the same Yumbox I shared above.
THIS lunch container is great because it has a spot for hot food that can also be removed. You can see above how I did tomato soup in it then I put a smoothie in it for a different meal. Also it has a handle so no need for an extra container to put it inside.
Let’s talk Snacks-
- Kids aged 2-18 should consume less than 25g of added sugar per day (and yes, less is better!)
- Whole Foods are best!
- No artificial dyes
- No high fructose corn syrup
- No artificial sweeteners
- No glyphosate
- No GMOS
- No hormones
- No nitrates
- We are trying to avoid added sugar in foods
- Snack ideas we d0- apples, strawberries, veggie chips, plantain chips, perfect bar cut in half, homemade protein bites etc.
- I like THESE snack containers from Walmart.com
Additional Back-to-School Tips
Stress Free Mornings with clothing-
“I have NOTHING to wear!” I have talked about how we only keep clothing that fits, is in season, and that they ENJOY WEARING in their closets. Doing that important organization makes determining what to wear pretty easy! It also makes figuring out what they need more of easier too (for back to school shopping).
Here are some other favorite school outfit hacks:
- My daughters best friend picks her outfits for the entire week on Sunday. I REALLY like this idea. I bought some inexpensive bins and labeled them. This way the girls can look for the week and see if they have gym one day or check the weather and get everything picked out. Clothes can waste so much time at night when everyone is ready for bed and you are arguing over outfits.
- I also heard to have your kids lay out two outfits so if they wake up and hate one outfit they have a backup.
- Or what about this…have your kids sleep in their clothes for school the next day! I laughed when a friend told me she does this. But for some kids- maybe boys with comfy clothes this would work!
Let’s face it.. no one wants to sit at school for eight hours only to turn around and sit for an hour or two more to finish homework. This one can be tricky and I think it is important to pay attention to your child and adjust based on their needs. Before school starts, or maybe on back to school night, after you have met their teacher and learned about the homework expectations (as they vary teacher to teacher), site down with your child and make a plan together. Again, I think making them part of the process is so valuable in them taking ownership of the idea.
I will share what has worked for our family. Maybe it will help yours!
- I have found that when we have a designated spot for certain activities, and our kids feel ownership of that place, they are more likely to use it. Last Spring, I added a desk for each girl in their room. I found the desks at Walmart.com, super affordable. These desks have become their favorite spot for art and craft projects and also doing homework. Make sure their homework spot is stocked with pencils, crayons, highlighters, and any other supplies they typically need for completing homework. (Find desk blog post HERE).
- Pick a time that homework will be done, and stick to it as often as you can.
- If you have an early-riser, mornings can be an awesome time to complete homework. I love to start diffusing a morning blend of essential oils and we never allow television in the morning. Once they are dressed and fed, there is usually not much for them to do, but complete their homework.
- If your child is not a morning person, plan a time in the evening that they will do their homework. Maybe they would love to get it knocked out right away after school so the rest of their evening is free. Maybe they need time to play or work off energy before sitting back down for mental exercise.
It takes a lot of paper to run a school. SO many districts have implements electronic systems to get information out, but somehow we still end up with stacks and stacks! Living in a small home, clutter can accumulate quickly.
I try to live by the motto “Touch it Once”. When the kids come in the door with all their papers we look at them together and decide if they are recycle or love enough to save.
If it is a paper/note/art project that we love enough to save-
I take a quick photo of it with my phone. Uploaded the art project to their private Instagram account. Then we use Chat Books or Artkive that creates books of their art from uploaded photos (then those papers get put in recycle). There are a few art projects and journals that we do save the originals and those go into a Rubbermade container that we keep in the bookcase in our family room.
I will be sharing more back-to-school ideas and a couple more kids desk areas! (updated- go see desk spaces HERE)
Print out this checklist HERE
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