So it’s that time of year again where it is sad that the summer is coming to and end but parents breathe a sigh or relief. There is something comfortable about routine and I for one hate it when I am in routine all the time but thankful for it to soon return.
For me when I don’t have routine I go a little haywire and throw caution to the wind. I get lazy and a little to care free. There are just so many other fun things to do with the kids and in the summer weather and for us in Canada that usually means 12 weeks of warm weather before we need to bring out the sweaters again. I get this sense of urgency to make the most out of these 12 weeks and my regular healthy eating and working out regime weakens. Now only a few weeks from school and my body is aching to get back into a routine where I am sleeping, eating and getting some predictable exercise in.
But what about the kids? They will never, absolutely never admit it, but I really think they are itching to get back to a little routine as well. They are bored, running out of new adventures and starting to get on each others nerves. I suggested an adventure in cleaning out the fridge but go no takers. Or the quest to conquer Mount Laundry… still no bites. You can’t blame me for trying! But seriously, we want our kids to have a good year and part of that is being prepared. You know the saying “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail”. Here are two areas I find the toughest when getting back into a routine and how I found success last year:
Let’s face it kids like to push the envelope and this is usually the first regular rule that is broken as soon as the end of school bell rings. My 13 year old daughter still goes to bed at a reasonable time but it takes her like an hour to get out of bed in the morning. While my 10 year old finds ways to stretch bed time out and gets up with no issues. My plan for the 13 year old is to set the alarm one hour earlier than she needs to get up and put it in a place she actually needs to get up to shut it off – kind of like a warning flare. I will be up so she gets a little nudge to get the ball rolling and I can drop the hammer when I need to and get the show on the go. I myself am the worst morning person ever so this is actually the dance my husband and I do every morning. He leaves early and sets the alarm super early for me and then I now automatically have trained myself to get up an hour later. Strange but it works!
My strategy for the other one is similar just reverse engineered. Get the bed time routine started 1/2 hour before the actual bedtime so all the excuses are addressed and he is out of ammo – and off to bed he goes. This plan worked for him last year so fingers crossed.
Who dislikes making lunches? Me that is who! And since you heard earlier how much of a morning person I am making lunches needs to be quick like lightening because chances are I overslept again and am racing around like a horse at the Triple Crown.
I do however have a plan in place and it starts with good prep and organization right after I grocery shop. I have 3 bins that are big enough to hold snacks but small enough to fit on one side of a kitchen cupboard or on a fridge in my self nicely. Maybe 12″ long by 6″ wide.
The first container is for starchy snacks…most kids favourite. I fill this container with granola bars, crackers, pretzels, rice cakes etc. As soon as I get home from groceries I empty any boxes I have of these items right into these bins. For items like pretzels, crackers and the like I measure out serving sizes and put inside small containers or snack size baggies so they are already portioned out for lunches and easy to grab. I worry about all of the sugar and preservatives in store bought granola bars so I often make homemade granola bars or banana bread and pre-wrap so that I know the kids are getting a good healthy snack with ingredients I can spell. Made Good Granola bars or the Cliff Bars for kids are one of their favourites and nut free as all the schools in our area are peanut free.
The second container is for emergency fruit. Yes you know the days when you didn’t pre-cut the melon, apples for your daughter with braces or you just are out but want them to have fruit or am I the only one that sees apple sauce and and canned peach slices in water as a saving grace some days. I keep this container for those quick to pack and travel fruit cups. The third bucket is for dairy and protein. I know yogurt drinks have a lot of sugar in them so I try not to buy too often but in this bucket you will find yogurt drinks, yogurt, pudding cups, cheese etc. Finally, the fruit drawer is a bucket in itself. No need to portion out pears, oranges and the like but to make it quick I pre-portion out grapes when I have them so they are again in a washed, grab and go format.
So here is where the magic happens. I have each bucket labelled on the outside with how many to grab. 1 simple carb (granola bar item), 2 fruit, 2 dairy/protein. The kids can choose and help out by getting their snacks ready and I just need to make the main event – the lunch. Sandwich, soup, wraps etc. Saves time, kids can feel good about getting to choose and because I have got rid of all the outside packaging I have more room in my cupboards and fridge.
How do you prepare for back to school and what strategies work for your families? Drop a comment and share – I can always use a tip or two!