Each school year, I try to come up with new ways to help make hectic school mornings a bit easier. As my kids get older, I love to give them more responsibility in their morning routine, and today’s project is one that I created specifically for that purpose. This DIY Outfit of the Day Tote (#ootd, in case you’re a hashtag lover like I am) can be made in minutes, and it is such a great way to reduce wardrobe stress on busy mornings! Kids place all of the elements of the next day’s outfit into the bag the night before, so all they have to do is grab it and get dressed once the alarm goes off in the morning. It is incredible how much this has helped reduce the stress of our school mornings since we started this little system! Read on for all of the details about this handy idea.
Ready or not, the last lazy days of summer are almost behind us, and soon kids will be heading back to school. Returning to the often hectic routines of busy school days can be downright overwhelming, but today, I’ve teamed up with El Monterey to share some of my best back-to-school tips for making the transition back into school mode as easy and stress-free as possible. With ideas for organizing, food prep, scheduling and even a few tips to make the back-to-school time full of great memories, you’re sure to find some new ideas to incorporate into your own family’s routine!
I’ve partnered today with El Monterey to share these helpful back-to-school tips. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
5 Super Smart Back-to-School tips
Tip 1: Master Your Schedule
Of all of the things that make back-to-school time the most difficult, feeling out of control of your family’s schedule has to rank at the top. With four kids, I have quickly learned that an essential component of our family’s overall happiness is for me to feel on top of our hectic routine. To help with this, I created what I call my Parent Command Center that lives on the counter in my kitchen. With a place to keep important papers like lunch menus and permission forms, handy tools like pens and scissors, and even our weekly dinner menu all in one place, I honestly don’t know how I ever lived without this little system in my life!
Another essential that I have for managing our family schedule is this handy planner. (affiliate link) Although I always add appointments and other dates into my phone calendar to share with my husband, there is something so satisfying about seeing everything all in one place in a tangible, dynamic way.
Tip 2: Set Up for Homework Success
Transitioning kids from summer mode to school mode is tough, and one thing that is always a struggle at the start of a school year is diving back in to having nightly homework assignments. And nothing makes homework even more of a task than sitting down to finish an assignment, only to have to spend precious time attempting to find the supplies and tools needed for the task are scattered from one end of the house to the other. A couple of years ago, I came up with a life-saving idea to solve this problem: I created a Homework Command Center that lives on the counter in our kitchen, the place where my kids all sit down each day to do their homework assignments. It is so easy to put one of these together (just a lazy Susan and few containers are all you need–nothing fancy!), but I cannot say enough how much this has reduced our family’s daily level of stress!
Tip 3: Get Your Home School-Ready
In both our current and our previous home, I set up a hallway organizing system that is a lifesaver all year long. With hooks to hang backpacks and jackets, as well as memo boards for hanging important papers and a chalkboard for jotting down important appointments and dates, the setup in our previous home was indispensable!
Another home-organizing essential: tackling the mounds of PAPER that accumulate through a school year! Set up a system for tackling the papers that come home with your kids before they start trickling in to ensure you don’t wind up overwhelmed later on. My particular paper system is simple: I have a portable hanging file box (affiliate link) for each child that is filled with a folder for each school year, starting with Pre-K and going all the way through the 12th grade. As papers come in, I place my absolute favorites in the file for the current school year. At the end of the school year, I sort through all of the papers that have been placed in the file over the course of the year and keep about 10-15 projects and assignments that I feel best represent the child’s growth over the course of the year. This “system” really couldn’t be simpler, but I have found it to be the very best for this purpose.
Tip 4: Plan Ahead for Meals and Snacks
Of all of my tricks for staying ahead of the game when school is back in session, meal planning is quite possibly the one thing I do that reduces my stress level the most. With just a small investment of time at the beginning of each week, I am able to ensure that even when life gets the craziest, I won’t have to ask myself at 5:00 what on earth I am going to feed this crew for supper. In my two-part menu-planning series, I shared in the first post about why menu planning is essential to our family routine, and in the second post about my 7 essential meal-planning tips, including a free printable shopping list to make staying organized simple.
On particularly busy days, I like to keep my freezer stocked with easy, yet wholesome, items that I can heat and serve in a small amount of time, but that are satisfying to eat. Our family loves Mexican food more than just about any other type of food, so the frozen burritos, chimichangas and quesadillas from El Monterey are a great option for us on nights when we want to sit down together for a delicious meal without having to spend precious time in the kitchen. I love that these products contain real, simple ingredients, like real cheese and fresh-baked tortillas!
Another thing not to overlook when menu planning: snack time! My kids are always ravenous after a long school day, so I have found it works great for us to treat their after-school snack like a fourth meal instead of allowing them to graze their way throughout the afternoon. El Monterey quesadillas are easy for my big kids to prepare for themselves (score!), and when paired with healthy plain Greek yogurt and some salsa, they are a satisfying snack that can give them brain power to finish their homework assignments.
Tip 5: Make it Memorable
A saying I have heard many times over the years: The days are long, but the years are short. Never did I realize how fundamentally true this statement is until my kids started school. Time does absolutely fly by! Watching my kids grow and change year after year has helped me understand how important it is to stop and make these years–no matter how busy and hectic they might be–as memorable as possible.
A few years ago, I created some fun printable interview questionnaires for kids (available to you as a FREE download!) for kids to fill out at the beginning and end of each school year. It is so incredible over time to see how much they change in the span of a school year!
When it comes to school lunches, I also love to make things special by sending notes and treats to let my kids know how proud I am of them for all of their hard work. I created a set of reusable lunchbox notes for this purpose, and I love that these can be used again and again to give my kids an extra boost during their school day!
I hope these helpful back-to-school tips help ensure the new school year gets off to a great start for you and your family!
Looking for a fun craft project for a special tween in your life? These dyed wood DIY headbands are a terrific wearable project to make together. Made with the beautiful new Ultra Dye colors from Plaid, these headbands are quick to make and super fun to wear. Read on for all of the details for how to make some dyed wood headbands of your own!
Thank you to Plaid for sponsoring this post to help me bring this fun craft idea to you today! All of my opinions about the Ultra Dye products used for this product are entirely my own….
The Summer Games are just around the corner, so why not have some fun in the kitchen with your kids to create some festive treats to enjoy as you watch the many fun events? These adorable torch cupcakes are baked right inside a sugar ice cream cone, and with a flamelike swirl of frosting, red and yellow sprinkles, and a gold medal on top, these are sure to be a hit with kids of all ages! And, with the help of Huggies® Wipes, there is no need to sweat the mess as you make and enjoy your tasty creations. Read on for all the details for how these adorable torch cupcakes come together.
This post is brought to you by Huggies®. All opinions are entirely my own.…
Today’s post is sponsored by Cut It Out Frames.
There has been a little spot above our stairs that I have always wanted to use to display the most recent portraits of my kiddos, and once the hustle and bustle of the school year was done, I determined myself to create a new gallery wall there this summer. I absolutely love to use family portraits as a way to decorate my home, and swapping out the photos regularly keeps things current and fresh. The only problem with wanting to frequently change out pictures? Professional portraits can be downright expensive! Armed with nothing but my camera and a bit of stubborn determination, I decided a few years ago to start taking my kids’ portraits myself, and I have never looked back. By doing so, I have been able to cut costs while still also having the abundance of photos I love–all while capturing some of the best, most natural and genuine shots of my children possible. Today, I’m sharing my best advice for taking great portraits of your kids at home, plus some ideas for how to display those terrific shots with some fun frames from Cut It Out Frames! AND one lucky reader is going to win some Cut It Out Frames of his or her own! (Yay!)
This post is sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.
With Independence Day later this week, craft up some festive patriotic star necklaces with your kids to wear on the big day! These necklaces come together in no time at all, and they are made extra-special with a secret supply that will help them glow in the dark when it’s time to sit under the stars to watch fireworks. This is a July 4th craft that is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages! Read on for all the details.
Today’s post is brought to you by Michaels.
On the lookout for a fun craft project to do with your kids this summer? These clever tote bags are made from upcycled t-shirts, and they are perfect for toting to the library, pool and more. Let me fill you in on all the details, including some exciting news for how Michaels.com makes planning, purchasing supplies for, and making this craft as easy as can be!
Add a whimsical touch to your next summer gathering by serving adorable flip flop mini sandwiches. These are as easy as can be to make and a great idea for making with and serving to kids. Read on for all the details!
Today’s post is brought to you by HP.
With summer upon us, road trip season is about to hit full swing. And let’s face it: traveling in the car with kids–no matter how long or short the drive–can be a challenging prospect! The good news is, with just a bit of planning ahead, there are some easy, effective ways to minimize the sibling rivalry and cut down on the questions of, “Are we there yet?” Let me fill you in on all the details!
Now that the holidays are over and school is back in session, I’ve been pondering ways to eliminate stress from our hectic daily routine by getting more organized. In our family, there is one area that always seem to be a particular challenge on a day to day basis: homework time. My kids tend to sit down to do their homework when I am cooking dinner, and the flurry of requests (“Mama, have you seen the pencil sharpener?” “Do we have any glue?” “Where is the [insert name of necessary supply here]?”) during that harried time always makes me want to pull my hair out! Thankfully, I recently came up with a very easy-to-execute, inexpensive solution to that challenge: I created a homework command station to live permanently on our kitchen counter to ensure that my little scholars always have all of the supplies and tools they need for homework projects at arm’s reach. This organizational project has been a huge hit!
Today, I’m sharing all of the details about our homework command center, which is an easy, inexpensive DIY project that anyone can tackle (truly!). There are limitless ways to tailor it to suit your own family’s unique needs. Read on to see how I put our homework command center together for less than $12.
For this project, you will need…
- 1 lazy Susan (I used a wooden lazy Susan purchased at Ikea for $7.99)
- Metals buckets or other suitable containers for holding supplies (I purchased my small galvanized buckets from Ikea for $.79/each)
- School supplies…