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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School 2014- Tips and Tricks to Surviving "Normal"

This is one of the best, and most stressful times of year. We have to get back into our normal routine and make time for homework, lunches, sports and other responsibilities that are put off during summer break.

Here's a few tips and tricks that may work for you, and create a bit of calm among the chaos of going back to school.

Pack lunches the night before (see below)
Pack up backpacks the night before
Pick out clothes and shoes the night before and put them out so you can find it in the morning
Take a shower the night before (or bathe the little kids)
Get up with the alarm--or set it 10 minutes early so you aren't fighting the clock
Set out breakfast dishes/cereals or other non-perishable items the night before

Set a routine. When the kids get home from school they get a snack and I spend about 10 minutes with each of them reviewing how their day went, signing anything, checking over homework and making a plan with them of prioritizing their homework--yes, this even happens with the tiny ones--they need to know to get important homework done first too at some point.

Once they have a plan we set to work on getting homework finished. Sometimes it's easier to break homework up into timed sections (20 minutes works for us). So on nights with limited time due to other activities, they may have 20 minutes to read before dinner, and then they need to do their dinner assignment. On nights with less activities they can choose to do homework in whatever order they want to. It is a battle to get it all done, but charting it out by time periods helps us to get it accomplished.

Lunch Ideas
Check out these ideas on how to make quick, easy lunches
Lunch Ideas 1
Lunch Ideas 2
Lunch Ideas 3

Dinner Ideas
During the week meals have to be quick. I have started using my crock pot on the busiest of nights, many are listed here. Other quick ideas include: My French Dip sandwich; baked ziti;soup & sandwiches; Sheppard's Pie; enchiladas (make one & freeze one by doubling the batch).

It's easiest for me to have a prep day where I get all my meals for one week, including lunches, ready--chop any veggies, bag chips or crackers into smaller portions, cut up meats or shred cheeses, this way the kids and I can easily access the ingredients. If you don't like that hyper-organized idea, another idea is to arrange meals into bags or sections in the pantry so all your ingredients are grouped together. Whatever way works for you, being organized saves time, money and reduces stress.

Don't Forget to have fun. Yep, school is in full swing, but that doesn't mean the fun you had in the summer has to end completely. If the weather is nice visit a park on the weekend, go to an outdoor Farmer's Market or movie, go bowling or mini golfing--Life isn't Over, just back to Normal.

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