Sunday, September 4, 2011

How we survive Back to School!

Hello friends!! Is this REALLY  the LAST weekend of summer?!? For my kids and myself, since I am a teacher, we all go back on Wednesday. See that little big man right here?


HE is starting middle school. {Sniffle} I considered having him repeat 5th grade just so I could still say I had 2 elementary kiddos, but apparently they frown upon that. ;o)

SO, we are gearing up for school to start. As a full time teacher and single parent, the days will soon get very busy with homework, football practice, grading papers and the like. {Oh, and somewhere in there I am hoping I can still update my blog!} So how do I balance it all?? It’s not easy. In fact some days beds don’t get made in the morning and dishes are left in the sink overnight. {Oh well.} BUT, there are some things I do that make me STAY SANE and ORGANIZED during school and I thought I would share them with you:


#1- I prepack ALL the boys’ lunch snacks for the WHOLE week. SUNDAYS are important! It’s reserved for church and is a day of rest, but in my house it is also A DAY OF PREP! SO here it goes - if lunch snacks are cold, I put them in these little trays in the refrigerator:


If they’re dry snacks, they go in these labeled drawers in my pantry: 

{3 drawer bins from Target.} 


I make sandwiches each night before school & pack their lunch boxes with the prepped snacks also the night before, which saves us tons of time in the morning!

WHAT ELSE GOES IN THEIR LUNCH? These notes! Usually I write my own encouraging notes to them, but I found this cool book at a garage sale for 50 cents! And the boys really like getting them!



{At first I wasn’t sure if they appreciated the thought until I found all the notes I gave to my oldest from the WHOLE year, saved in his backpack.} xo

#2 – DINNER – PART 1: I cook 3 meals on Sunday night. Going out to eat is expensive, and I don’t often have time right after work to start cooking a long meal, so the more I prep food on Sunday, the less likely we are to eat out and our evenings go smoother. {Meals I like to prep that also save easily are meatloaf, pasta with veggies & meatballs, taco meats, casseroles, chicken – any kind, and veggies!} I’m always looking for good, easy recipes for my Sunday meals! Let me know if you have any ideas or know any really good food blogs!!

#3 – DINNER – PART 2: Once a week {at least} I do a crock pot meal - I just found a site called Crock Pot Girls! I'm so excited to try their recipes! And once a week I give myself an ‘easy’ dinner night. {Premade soups, pizza, mac & cheese, etc.} These 3 steps cover lunch and dinner for the whole week! Score!


#4 -  I use my cell phone calendar a lot and set alarms and alerts to everything so I am reminded where I need to be – BUT I also use a calendar at home.
Each kid is color coded. This helps THEM so they know if they have an activity during the week or that day. Colors were more important when they couldn’t read. Now that they can read, the colors are just for ease of use – and they’re pretty. {Or maybe it’s just because I think all school supplies are pretty?}


I use my cell phone the most, but this calendar is nice to have as a visual, and for those things that don’t repeat every week that I want to remember.

#5 – HAVE A COMMAND CENTRAL!! I WISH I had an entry way or mud room for this. For now, I make due with backpack hooks and baskets for shoes & cleats. Everything – backpacks, homework, any papers, music instruments, etc. whatever we need for the day – goes HERE the night before, so we don’t forget anything in the morning!

{This bench is the back of our dinner table bench. It also acts as a divider between the front door entry way and kitchen. Oh the joys of small house living.}

#6 -  MAKE DOING HOMEWORK EASY & ROUTINE. These benches for their backpacks also open up!! {LOVE this!} Each kid has their own bench and I keep extra school supplies there handy so they can do their homework easily. Homework is always done at the table the hour or so before dinner.

Just a normal dinner bench on the outside:


School Supply Central on the inside! {Think we can keep it this neat ALL year??} =)

I have a very small house, so any time I can maximize space or find dual purposes for items, I’m ON IT!

And let’s be honest - WHAT ALSO HELPS ME?? My boys are 7 and 10 years old. They know how to dress themselves and to make their own breakfast. Mornings are so much easier now that they are older! But planning meals, lunches and staying organized throughout the week just means we are more RELAXED and READY for those nights when there isn’t a lot of homework and can just enjoy our time together. {Yep, still not doing the dishes those nights either I guess. But they’ll get done – and actually, I DO have a 10 yr. old who likes to help.}

As for teaching, I made a new rule this year that I will NOT bring work home with me. That may be near impossible, being an English teacher with 120 essays to grade, but I will try. And during those essay & project seasons, at least I will wait until the boys are in bed to do my grading if I have to. SO why go through all this effort?? Because I want to make sure that I am not just present for my boys but actively ENGAGED with them and RELAXED while they are awake.

OH – and if any of the above falls through for the week – this is what I use to MAKE IT through!! =)


This may not be everyone’s system, but it works for me, and I’m always looking for ways to improve! How about it? How do you stay organized during school? {Maybe with your ideas my dishes would ACTUALLY get done!}

Linked up Here!
Tip Junkie ; C.R.A.F.T.


Naiman Family said...

Reannah~ This is FABULOUS!!!! If I could have a week to rearrange, adjust, and organize things the way you have, I'd be one happy person. But, I do know that I can start to implement a few at a time and greatly appreciate the tips. Hope your year starts off as smooth and organized as you! :)

Kim@todayismysome-day said...

Great tips! I am the world's WORST about packing the kids lunches at night! I just hate staying in the kitchen after dinner to do it. Love the lunch box notes. My 6th grader would probably be really embarrassed but secretly love them :)

Anonymous said...

I use Each week they email me a grocery list and 5 recipes that go with the groceries so I have a quick & easy meal to cook each night of the week. Their purpose is to help busy people eat fresh food on a budget. It also works for me because I've never been able to go food shopping on Saturday and know what I'll be making for dinner on Tuesday night. - Laura

Tonia @ said...

Wow! You are super organized! I love how you get stuff ready on Sunday night so that you have an easier week!

Carly said...

wow, you are so organized it is amazing! I'm going to add some of these ideas to my pintrest!

Reannah @ {Shaped by Grace} said...

Thanks girls! Laura -- I checked out thefresh20! It's pretty cool! I would love to be able to utilize that site -- if anything to get grocery shopping lists and meals aligned so easily!! And so far so good -- one day of school down!! The planning came from necessity and now saves my sanity! :)

David said...

Something I do to make packing lunches easier is make a whole loaf (or two!) worth of PB and J and stick it in the freezer. Then I just pull one out in the morning and it is defrosted by lunchtime. Kind of like those Uncrustables but with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and organic jam. :)

Reannah @ {Shaped by Grace} said...

Freezing the sandwich is a great idea David! My kids love PB & J too! Up until now I've making them the night before -- I'll have to try that tip! :)

Four Marrs and One Venus said...

Awesome Ideas! Great Great Great-- I Need a command station for the backpacks/lunch boxes etc...! Work in progress! Hope this school year is a fantastic one for you all!

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