Some people dread the going “back to school” season, and yet some parents post their “happy dance” on Facebook, that their kids are back in class. Personally, I am always excited when school is back in session! I feel like the chaos of summer is put to rest, and we all get back to a more regular routine. My house starts becoming more organized, ALL the laundry gets washed and put away, I actually have more time to fit in a workout, and my husband and I get to enjoy breakfast or a lunch date together! This 9 on the 9th, I am sharing of few of my tips, that my household utilizes to ease into our school routine, and that help our daughter Penelopi, get to school feeling confident, and ready to learn.
1.My husband Phillip and I, have about a 20-minute drive taking Penelopi to school in the mornings, and we use that time to have a little dance party in the car! Penelopi brings her favorite stuffed animal friends, (all of which are great dancers and singers), and we jam out to our favorite playlist. Our ‘dance in your seat’ party, helps set the tone for the day, and by the time we are dropping Penelopi off at school, she is pumped and ready to go! You can check out our playlist on Spotify.
2. Since we have to get up early on school mornings, making a hot breakfast can be a struggle sometimes. I have come up with a couple of ways to make the baking or cooking process, a little less time consuming. If we are having pancakes, the night before, I will make the batter, and store it in the refrigerator, in a carafe that has an easy to pour spout. Then come 6am, I am ready to make pancakes! I do the same thing with blueberry muffins.
3. Weeknights can be very busy as well, with after school activities and homework. I have a few recipes that have become popular weeknight dinner staples at our house. Penelopi’s favorite is our Campbell’s Soup Chicken Casserole, which she also likes to help mix the ingredients. I took some liberty with a few of the ingredients, for instance, instead of cooked chicken breast, I hand-shred a rotisserie chicken for added flavor. I also replace the cream of chicken soup, for cream of broccoli soup. I also like to use Ritz crackers instead of breadcrumbs, for the rich, buttery flavor and texture it brings to the dish.
4. My new favorite weeknight supper, is Skillet Steak and Wilted Kale. I have a newfound love of the combination of steak and kale. I discovered this recipe in Southern Living’s Special Collector’s Edition “Weeknight Dinners.” This dish only takes 30 minutes to make, and is packed with protein to help nourish those growing minds!
5. Lunch time is a lot of kids favorite part of the day. They enjoy their lunch, talk about what their parents may have packed them, and they tend to get a little silly! In the past, I have always packed Penelopi a sweet note, to tell her how much we love her, or something she did that was above and beyond what is expected of her. The goal was always to make her feel loved, and confident about herself. Well, now that she’s a third grader, it’s apparently “not cool”, to get mushy notes from Mommy in your lunch pack. Talk about a heartbreaker! So I decided to get a little creative with it. Penelopi is fascinated with Star Wars right now, and she also LOVES to be a funny girl. It makes her whole face light up, when she is entertaining her buddies or telling them a funny story, so when I googled “funny Star Wars jokes for kids”, I felt like I had hit the jackpot for a perfect lunch box note! Now everyday, her friends at school, ask her to share the jokes, and they all laugh together! I posted a few of the jokes on my Instagram, and I’ll give you the answers here below. Enjoy!
6. I am very thankful that Penelopi, recently asked if she could help me do the laundry. Actually, I think my jaw hit the floor, when she made her request so politely too! Once I started to reflect on how I could have her help me, and not mix all her colors together or shrink them, I thought that her school uniforms would be the perfect load for her to go through. The process of sorting, washing, drying, and finally putting her clothes away in her closet, helps Penelopi feel more confident, and independent, and helps me by having one less load of laundry to do!
7. Helping your kiddos learn how important it is to study can be a difficult task to teach for sure! Although studying seemed so boring for Penelopi, I had to think out of the box, and try to make it more of a fun time, to get her interested. I have found a couple of apps that help her with studying for her spelling and math tests. “The Spelling Bee”, allows me to input her list of spelling words, and also record the pronunciation of the word too. Once I have loaded in her words, there are several options of games that make the study part seem fun. There’s also a mock spelling test, that she can take as many times as she wants for memorization. “Math Town”, is another app, that helps her with mental math, and the graphics on the game are excellent! There are a couple of versions of the game, one being set in a haunted house, and the other is a museum. To move through the haunted house or museum, you have to complete the equation with the numbers that are missing. Half of the battle of mental math, memorization.
8. SLEEP! Sleep is as important as eating right, and exercise. It’s hard for anyone to focus, when they haven’t gotten enough sleep. Studies have shown that kids will perform better at school, when they have slept the correct amount of hours for their age. On the opposite end of the spectrum of sleep, they have also linked Alzhiemer’s disease and other illnesses to sleep deprivation. I’ve been reading a lot about sleep deprivation and its negative effects, from the book “Sleep Revolution” by Arianna Huffington. Go check it out, and sleep well my friends!
9. The school day can be a long day, so it’s also very important to stay hydrated. Every morning I fill a water bottle up for Penelopi. The bottle has a nice clip on it that she can attach to her backpack, so she can always have a quick drink of water, without leaving the classroom, or disturbing her classmates. The bottle is reusable, and her school has water fountains near her classroom, that make it easy for her to refill when she gets thirsty. Penelopi, of course, had to have a Star Wars water bottle at first, but recently has fallen in love with an “I Am Other” bottle. “I Am Other”, is an organization that for every purchase of their school supplies, they will donate supplies to other classrooms in need. She feels as though she is helping others, who may not have the supplies they need to learn and grow, and that makes her, and the whole family, feel good. Definitely go check them out if you want to help.