5 Tips to Make Back To School Easier

30
Aug
2018

back to school tips

If you’ve already headed back to school, you can likely disregard this post until next year!  However, our family is still a week out from our start date, and I am sure there are a few others who still have kiddos at home, so I wanted to share some of my yearly tips that keep me sane.

Back to School Tips

Shifting from a busy and non-structured routine of summer days is a little tricky, but with some planning, you can make things a bit smoother.

Alter Your Sleep Pattern

A week before school begins, start going to bed and waking up (you and the kids) earlier. It helps make the transition easier for everyone.  We start school next week, so last week we began slowing altering bedtime by 30 minutes every few days, until we got back to the school-year bedtime.

This is also the routine with wake-up times, slowly shifting the rise and shine time for everyone.  In our house, especially this year, we’ve had some VERY lazy mornings, so this was has been actually the most difficult to transition.

Clean and Tidy Closets

This was my favorite back when growing up and heading back to school.  My mom and I would school shop for new clothes, and even though most of my clothes came from bargain stores and Sears, I was still excited.  I can remember picking out my first day of school outfit weeks ahead of time.

Take some time to go through the closet and find items that have been outgrown, doesn’t fit for school attire and simple needs to go.  Then organize drawers to make outfits easy to put together for your child.  Depending on their age, you can even use boxes to plan outfits for an entire week – or a hangar system for this and use this perfectly sized closet organizer.  Isn’t it perfect for organizing all week?

Create an After School Routine

This is one of the most important steps as we head back to school.  I love to create independence in my child and one way to do that is create tools which they can use to help keep themselves on track.  Now, each child is different for sure, and after having four I can tell you that they each require a bit of different training.  But one thing that is helpful for all fo them is a chart which gives them tasks to check off after they’ve completed them.  We use one for before school, but also after school, and bedtime.

My desire for our after school chart is to allow my child to really be independent on knowing what his tasks are and finding success in completing them on his own, with out me hovering over him.  I have printable task sheets and tasks ideas in my Back To School Survival Guide, if you are looking for more ideas.

Plan Lunch Ideas Ahead

Do all moms really dread packing lunches, or is it just me?  One thing I have done, which has helped, is to sit down with my son and come up with a list of lunch items that he would like to see in his lunch.  We expand on this list, so that there are items from all food groups, and then we can look at what items go together and what he can expect in his lunch.

This way, he has an expectation, I have an expectation and it is much easier to plan.  How would I have known otherwise that he liked dill pickles and black olives in his lunch box?  I also like to get re-useable lunch box supplies, like this bento lunch box that we have had two years.  Its sturdy and has worked so well with the ice packs.

Create a School Calendar

Keeping track of all the school activities, classroom parties, events and such can really be tricky.  I like to put this on my iCal calendar so that all our family members can see it.  However, we have also used a printable calendar that comes in my FREE Household Planner and designated school items with a certain color.  Having a viewable calendar on the wall seems to really help my eight year old, so this type of wall calendar is what he likes.

What Back to School Tips do you have to share with other moms?

If you are looking for tips on keeping everyone healthy and well this upcoming school season, take a look at this awesome Back to School Class I was a part of a few weeks back.

If you decide to jump into Young Living with me, you’ll get $20 cash back on your Premium Starter Kit – be sure to check it out!

back to school with essential oils

How to Menu Plan in Less Than 15 Minutes

26
Sep
2016

How to Menu Plan in Less Than 15 Minutes

Since moving to the beach, I have taken great care to develop a system for meal planning. Being without a dinner plan when the closest market is 30 minutes away spells DISASTER!

I have always been a meal planner, but some weeks I drift from a real organized plan. Does that ever happen to you?

As I get back into my routine, I wanted to share some of my steps of how I menu plan for the week in less than 15 minutes.

Collect Recipes and Pin Them

Pinterest is a great invention if you really put it to use in good ways, like keeping a dinner recipe board of your family favorites. I just started this Family Favorites board and have found it so helpful when I sit down to plan my meals for the week. I can quickly see the photos of the meals and I write down what appeals to me at the moment! I also am a fan of using eMeals to collect meals that are easy and simple for my family. I can keep those in my notebook. See below.

Write It Down

No if’s, and’s, or but’s – put a meal title on each day that you need to have a dinner made. Don’t make general ideas. Write it down and go right to making the list of ingredients you need to make the meal. If I am in question about any ingredients, I will write them down and then can easily cross them off when I check my pantry stock. So write down your meal and ingredients at the same time.

Keep a Notebook

I will print out many of my recipes and keep them in a divided notebook for easy reference later. I also have a folder where I place all the recipes I need for that week so I am not searching for them later, wasting time, and adding to frustration. I keep the folder in the front of my notebook. I am a paper person, so even when I pin recipes, I still print it out. Call me old-fashioned, but it works for me!

Have a Weekly Menu Planner

This is a game changer. I have to write down my ideas and the days I intend to make meals, not so much for breakfast and lunch, but certainly for dinner. It is pivotal in how I carry out my intended plans. So, if you don’t have one, you can print this FREE Weekly Menu Planner out that I have for my readers. I use it and love it to keep things simple and easy.

Make Double

This is my favorite way to extend my meal planning and time. When I can I will double the recipe (or sometimes even triple it) and freeze a second batch of soup, stew, a crockpot recipe, or a casserole. It saves me time and also I will have a ready made list of dinner ideas set to quickly add to my weekly menu plan. I keep a running list of my freezer items so I can draw from it.

Rotate

If you find a weekly plan that worked well, save it and repeat! This is my genius plan – seriously! I can take those meal plans and put them “as-is” through another week maybe 5-7 weeks after the original plan. This saves me a ton of time and also circulates many of my family favorite recipes in our schedule.

What is your biggest tip for easy meal planning? I’d love to hear!

Getting Your Focus Back

5
Feb
2015

Getting Your Focus Back

There are days when I feel like my brain is mush. Mama wakes up and even after a couple cups of my favorite coffee, it is still a struggle to get things into focus. I need to get my MOJO going!

Brain fog is a condition that many of us moms experience, even without having extra issues, like emotional struggles, immune challenges, or just plain exhaustion. But I am here to share a few of my favorite weapons that help keep my brain engaged and in gear when I feel sluggish and unfocused.

It is amazing what a few drops of an essential oil can do to help clarity, focus, and concentration without any side effects that could be harmful. I just love that! I am also so happy that I decided to choose Young Living as the only essential oils I use in my home as they have the largest oil selection – more than any other essential oil company.

Curious to hear about some of my favorites for keeping focus? Here are a few in my secret stash:  

Motivation™ helps you overcome procrastination and take action.

I need this by the gallon! But really, this awesome blend of Roman Chamomile, Spruce, Ylang Ylang, and Lavender is one that will get you going! I love diffusing this one at my desk or in the kitchen, especially while unsuspecting kids are working on homework or college applications!  🙂

Brain Power™ clarifies thought and focus.

It does just what it says. Serious as a heart attack! The blend of Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Melissa, Frankincense, Blue Cypress, Lavender, and Helichrysum gives your brain a boost with essential oils that are high in sesquiterpenes. This one is excellent applied topically at the base of the neck.

Clarity™ promotes a clear mind and alertness.

Clarity contains stimulating oils including Peppermint and Rosemary, which have been used for many years to promote mental sharpness. A study performed by Dr. William N. Dember of the University of Cincinnati found that inhaling Peppermint oil increased the mental accuracy of students by 28 percent. This is such an incredible blend of Basil, Cardamom, Rosemary, Peppermint, Coriander, Geranium, Bergamot, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, and Palmarosa. I enjoy this one in the diffuser and also topically on the VitaFlex points on the ears (not in the ear, ON the ear!). Here are two different charts you can refer to on Pinterest: Emotional Ear Chart and the VitaFlex Ear Chart.

Rosemary improves mental clarity and concentration.

I love that this oil is so beneficial for so many things. It’s relaxing but yet invigorating, can be used in cooking, and does help with clarity and concentration. It is one of my favorites to use in an Epsom salt bath in the evening, as it is great for muscle relaxation as well.

Grounding™ supports clarity and balance

I use this blend on me as well as my five year old. We all have some emotional chaos that needs tamed. I am sure you know exactly what I mean – this blend can lead to better decision making and coping with issues at hand. Powerful blend of White Fir, Spruce, Ylang Ylang, Pine, Cedarwood, Angelica, and Juniper.

These can all be applied topically and used in the diffuser – easy peasy. If you are looking for some help to get back on track, you’ll want to check them out. If you are not a member of our oily community yet, you can click here to find out more on how you can become a Young Living Member and feel empowered caring for your family!   

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am just a mom sharing my experience in order to help others, not a doctor.

How a Pig Saves My Mornings

12
Jan
2015

Pig-Timer-Smooth-Mornings

I know you’ve been there – the morning begins to slip away, no one is cooperating, breakfast is not getting eaten, no one has brushed their teeth and you need to get out the door!  The dilly-dallying is non-stop and will bring any mom to the brink of BLOWING!

Yep, I get it.  But you know what?  I have discovered that normally I am 98% at fault.  I am the one that ends up playing the game with my son, who is five – who loves to take his time – unless there is a reason to hurry.  I end of falling into this pattern of begging, pestering and escalating my voice thinking that will help things along, but it ends up only making it worse.

Until, I remembered my PIG timer!pig timer

Several years ago I ordered this cute pig timer to have on the counter to use to help me stay on task.  It does work well and one morning it came to me, why not use this timer to help my son?

Brilliant!

So we began using the Pig timer in the morning and the challenge was for my son to BEAT THE PIG!

We need to be out the door on most mornings by 8:45 AM.  So when we first began using this tool (the pig timer) he would have a set amount of time to eat his breakfast before the pig timer went off.  Once the timer went off, he was done.  No second chances…. but I would leave his breakfast out for him, so if he completed the other tasks before time, then he could come use his extra time to eat his breakfast.  Normally for us, this is not an issue.

At 8:00 AM I set the timer for 30 minutes…. so he has that time period to get dressed, make his bed and brush his teeth.  These tasks are all ones that he can complete on his own, except for brushing his teeth.  When he is ready to brush his teeth, he lets me know and I will help.  

When we first began this challenge, I wanted him to succeed, so made sure to offer as much time as possible for him to complete his tasks, even if he chose to dilly-dally.  He loved the challenge to, “Beat the Pig!”.

If he “Beats the Pig” then we have extra time to do something fun – either read a book, watch a TV show or even play a game on my iPad.

I cannot even tell you how easier my morning is when I remember my trusty friend the Pig.  When we get out of our routine though, I will sink back into my old habits of raising my voice, making demands, saying things I really don’t mean and cannot realistically even do and just create a frustrating and terrible start to our morning.  I know you can relate, many of you have shared with me the frustrations of getting toddlers ready in the morning.

I urge you to spend the $6 and grab a Pig for your own smooth mornings.  Have a Beat The Pig jar of fun activities that the child or children can do if they beat the pig.  If they don’t beat the Pig, you have to have a consequence too…… often times it is that they are late to school – which at our house means that there is not fun extras after school – like TV time or iPad time.

But I will say, those days are very few, the excitement to Beat the Pig and not hear his timer go off is such a great challenge that he meets it with gusto!  Sometimes we also have a contest between h and I to see who can beat each other first before the Pig with our morning tasks too!  (A secret, I almost always let him win those challenges – I am a big softy sometimes!)

If you are looking for other tips on creating a smooth morning routine for kids, you might check this article out I shared previously.

Dream Dinner Challenge Wrap Up

30
Sep
2014

Dinner-Challenge

Earlier this month I partnered with Dream Dinners  with the 30 Days of Dinner Challenge.  I was blessed with a fabulous way to provide great meals to my family by using the simple and easy meals you pre-make in their store locations.  We have had a very busy month and it was such  treat to just pull something from the freezer and not have to worry about grocery shopping or coming up with an idea and prep time.

We took care of that when we went into Dream Dinners and made our dinners in just under 1 1/2 hours!

We exceeded the challenge I took by two meals.  Our schedule is tricky – but this month I had challenged myself to 15 family meals together – we actually had 17 (and that is not including several breakfasts and lunches!)

What we ate

This is our spread from Dream Dinners – remember I am not a food photographer, but this will give you some ideas of the yummy meals we had.  We also of course had leftovers and a few other family favorites mixed in.

Steak-Provence

Steak-Gorgonzola

Outlaw-Chicken

Monte-Cristo-correct

Kentucky-Pork

Cranberry-Buttermilk

Cola-Pork

Chicken-Soft

Bueno-Steak

Wasn’t all that looking very good??

What I loved

Going to a location where we made our meals all in advanced was FAB-U-LOUS!  They cleaned it all up and I came home with 12 meals.

The best meals in my opinion were the two steak dinners – I was absolutely amazed at the quality of beef we had.  Remember here, I am rather spoiled as we buy direct from a farmer, grass-fed beef – and it is incredible.  I was very surprised at the tenderness of this meat and the sauces used were very tasty.

Going to the freezer and just pulling a meal out was incredibly easy and saved a ton of time.  We have never been real big on just heading out the door to a restaurant for dinner when I end up empty handed in the evening – we always find something.  But this made that idea of ‘going out’ because we didn’t anything an excuse we couldn’t use.

What I found difficult

To be honest, there was one thing that was a bit hard for me, since I have unique dietary challenges, mostly being gluten free.  It was hard to determine exactly what I could eat when choosing the menu items off the website, so we ended up arriving to make meals that did in fact have gluten in them.  If there had been a better description or list of ingredients I could have chosen more wisely or even brought different ingredients to substitute.  

For example, the meatloaf has bread crumbs, I could have brought my almond flour to use instead or these corn flake crumbs and substituted those.  So, for me it was a bit more challenging to eat this month and stay on track.

All in all it was a great success!  I loved making all the meals ahead of time and also finding new things to share at our dinner table.  We were extremely blessed!

Did you commit to the challenge too?  I would love to hear how it went – leave a comment.