Category Archives: School

Tips for Packing School Lunches



Like most parents, I struggle more often than not when it comes to packing my kids school lunches. For one, they can be super picky, loving something one day and then hating it the next. And two, I always stress over whether my selections are healthy enough to get them through their day of learning.

Of course, there’s always the option of buying lunch at school. But after taking a peak at their school lunch menu, I really don’t blame them for opting out of that one. If the sheer name of some of the lunch choices doesn’t scare you, check out this slideshow of The Sad State of School Lunches in the US by Huffington Post.

Gross, right?

So in an attempt to keep my kids at least semi-healthy when it comes to lunch, but also keeping the process semi-easy for myself, I put together some tips and ideas to make your lunch packing life a little less hell-ish.

Let’s start with the basics, what in the world to pack? One of the most basic things that comes to mind would be a sandwich, right? Well, in our family, my son is allergic to peanuts and my daughter despises sandwiches of all kinds. So that definitely leaves out your standard PB&J. My son used to take tuna on bread, but he’s so over-tuna-ed that he literally refuses to touch it if I pack it anymore. Plus, I’m pretty sure that the fishy smell is so not cool amongst 3rd grade friends anymore. So what’s left? Keeley McGuire of gives us 20 Non-Sandwich School Lunch Ideas to point us in the right direction.

Take a look at this beautiful school lunch

non-sandwich school lunch ideas


Having a little trouble putting a complete meal together? Or are you type A like me and have an incessant need to plan and have everything written down to ease your mind a bit? Try out this cute & free school lunch planner printable from The Organized Parent.

lunch planner



Want to add a little flair and excitement in hopes that your offspring will actually eat what you pack? Try decorating the storage bags. On The Chive you can find 28 really cool examples of one Dad’s decorated ziploc bags that he packed in his kids lunchboxes. Try your hand at one of his designs or create a masterpiece of your own!

baseball sandwich bag



I’m a firm believer that organization is key. When I think ahead and organize I truly do find that a complicated or daunting situation can be made so much easier. That’s why I am a huge fan of Salt and Pepper Moms wonderful School Lunch Organization tips. The photos alone make you want to be a better lunch packer!

lunch basket organizer


If you’re feeling really crafty and a touch overzealous, you could always create your very own School Lunch Station! This amazingly organized station by Uncommon Designs will have you packing lunches in not time flat and you might even enjoy the process! Wishful thinking?



And lastly, why not a note along with your fantastically packed lunch to let your little one know how much their loved? This round-up of lunch box notes from Happy Home Fairy is sure to have something for everyone!

lunchbox notes

Have any school lunch packing tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you and share with others!


Homework Help

Let’s face it, homework time can be a complete nightmare for both child and parent. The two of you probably just spent the entire day sitting at a desk (or taking care of the household for all of you stay-at-home folks), focusing on multiple subjects and using your brain for 6+ hours. And now you have to do it all again, but at home this time, when you’d honestly rather just relax.

You stare across the table at your kid and you can already see that defiant look in their eye. The “I don’t feel like it!” whine that’s just about to cross their lips and for some, the nightly struggle begins.

It’s enough to make a grown man (or woman!) cry. Well, and probably a few kids too.

Obviously the homework dilemma is not going anywhere soon, but you can make it easier on all involved. With these Homework Help tips, you might get a smile or two out of your little one and even a little enjoyment for yourself! Wait.. is that stretching it too far?

Sometimes treats and bribes aren’t necessarily a bad thing


In my own personal experience, math seems to be the most trying subject to get through in the evening. Our brains are pretty fried and focusing on numbers is the last thing we want to be doing. But if you make it fun and rewarding, your child just might be willing to do a little work! M&M’s, chocolate chips, grapes, goldfish crackers – any of these are great for counting. For every math problem they finish correctly (and most importantly, without a single whimper or whine) your child gets to eat the counting pieces. You could probably slip a few in for yourself too, and no one would be the wiser. Just saying.

Try breaking down homework time into chunks

Sometimes the “all or nothing” method is just too overwhelming.

So, take a…

take a break

Use a kitchen timer or stop watch on your smartphone and program 10-15 minutes worth of work time. When time is up stop for five minutes and focus on something else like having your child tell you a story about something that happened at school. Grab a light snack. Have them help you with a quick house chore like emptying the dishwasher… just kidding, but a mom can hope can’t she? Just note that it’s probably not wise to let them go off and watch t.v. or start up a video or computer game though. It will most likely be very difficult to pull them away once they are immersed in technology land! Do this start and stop system until the homework is completed.

Find a change of scenery

coffee shop

Sometimes it’s just the routine of sitting down at the table, pencil in hand and a text book in front of them that makes your child automatically find their UN-happy place. Mix it up once or twice a week and set up a small work station at your local coffee shop or ice cream locale. You could even offer to treat them to a hot chocolate or single scoop if your child is extra willing to complete their studies. I’ll leave that completely up to you!

The Library


Libraries are one of the most wonderful places on Earth. Truly. And unfortunately most people don’t even realize the resources that are waiting for them there. Most local libraries are full of tables to work at, computers to research with and of course, a plethora of knowledge within shelf after shelf of every type of book you can imagine. Some library branches also offer Homework Help services where volunteers will work with you and your child one-on-one. Seriously! Visit your area library or check them out online to see what services they have to offer. You’ll be so glad you did.

And last, but most importantly…

Routine, Routine, Routine

Routine. It’s one of those things that is such a booger to start and adapt to, but once you get it – life just becomes that much easier. I’ve learned this several times with my own kiddos and am finally reaping some of the rewards from our initial struggles. Creating a routine makes things a little simpler for everyone. So when it comes to homework, create your own routine. You could have the kids begin working as soon as they get home so that they can focus on other things throughout the evening. Or you could give them a specific time, say 30 minutes from when you arrive home, to get started. Whatever you feel most comfortable with and works best for your situation. Believe it or not, eventually your kids will come to do the routine you set forth on their own naturally. You may even start to notice pandemonium when their routine is disrupted! The old saying that children NEED routine couldn’t ring truer. If they know what to expect and what is expected of them, they will honestly feel more secure in their surroundings and daily life.

Check out this homework routine chart from Workshop Classroom that you could print and hang as a reminder. Or better yet, ask your child to help you create one of your very own.

routine chart

I hope that these tips help to ease your homework woes this school year and encourage your child to find the fun in their studies. And if all else fails, you can always just hope for tons of math homework so that you can chow down on “counted” m&m’s without guilt! Yeah… I’m stretching it again, aren’t I?

Back to School We Go! 5 Tips for a Great Start

Can you hear it yet? You know, the quiet flutter of forgotten homework papers, the morning late bell ringing, or the tearful sobs of unhappy children wearing socks they hate? Are you cringing at the mere thought of it all?

Hopefully this doesn’t sound like your typical start to the school year, but if it does, you’re not alone. Unfortunately I cannot offer you a magic Happy-School-Day pill, however, I can try to help with the basics.

As always, the lazy days of summer will eventually come to a close signaling a new academic start.  Soon we’ll be packing lunches and backpacks like pros again. Preparing now will help to prevent unnecessary hiccups from threatening your chances for a stress-free and successful beginning to the school year. Don’t we all want our kids to have a fair chance full of peaceful mornings and then excited replies to your “How was your day?” Do cows moo? Duh, of course you do!

Hopefully these few tips will get you going in the right direction. Well, that, and perhaps a few gallons of extra strong coffee. But I digress.

Here are some things you can do to help your child (and yourself!) to prepare for the upcoming school year:

Keep Calm and Sleep On

Are you just as convinced as I am that most children consider sleep to be the most pointless activity ever? As impossible as it seems to find a good balance, getting quality shut-eye is so important to their health and well-being. I know, I know. Nothing good in life ever comes easy… but you can do it! Creating a bedtime ritual and routine that allows them to ease into sleepy time is key. Try starting bedtime 30 minutes earlier so that your child doesn’t feel rushed. Throw in a warm bath and some books for good measure and you can’t fail! Hey, stop laughing… it’s possible!

Keep Calm and Befriend the School

Your child’s school staff and teachers will be your greatest ally in ensuring your child’s academic success. After all, they will be with your child 6+ hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months out of the year. Whew! Just the thought of it makes me want to bow down in praise to these wonderful human beings. Be sure to introduce yourself and reiterate your desire to be involved in your child’s learning process. Volunteer when possible and always keep an open line of communication. It goes a long way to let the teacher and other staff members know that you care through both your words and actions. Oh, and maybe throw in a special treat or two every now and then or a quick note of thanks. Didn’t you know chocolate and thank-you notes are the cure-all for a stressful week full of unruly kindergarteners? Well, now you know!

 Keep Calm and Eat Healthy

Look, I’m not going to pretend like getting kids to eat their veggies is easy. In my experience, it is quite the torturous undertaking actually. It’s no secret that a healthy breakfast, followed by a nutritious lunch can make all the difference in your child’s attitude and willingness to learn throughout the day. Scrambled eggs, YES! Donuts, NO! Don’t shake your head at me. I am fully aware that I am basically asking you to put a round peg through a square hole. Get creative and find kid-friendly recipes that are both fun and wholesome. Who knows, Ants on a Log may be just what your little one needs to ace that math test! And if all else fails, bribe them with a sugary treat AFTER school. Your teacher will be most appreciative.

Keep Calm and Try it On

Nothing starts off a bad morning like a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. School mornings are already crazy enough. Who needs their wardrobe to make it any worse? Try picking out each outfit the night before and for the love of ill-fitting pants, try it on! If you’re really feeling overzealous, you could even pick out the whole week’s worth on Sunday.  Nothing says “PANIC!” like a hectic morning topped with a heaping dose of frenzy as you simultaneously try to find a matching sock and discover that your jeans “don’t feel right”. You know that sweater she loved last month? It is now the most repulsive thing in the entire universe. “Finicky” is my daughter’s middle name. I know some of you feel my pain. Say it with me, people: Pick it out and try it on!

Keep Calm and Read On

This might arguably be the most important thing you can do for your child to prepare for both school and life in general. Countless studies have shown the incredible benefits of reading. Whether you read to them, they read to you, or they read to themselves, it makes no difference. It’s all great in my book. Ha, what a clever pun! You’re shaking your head again, aren’t you? Sigh. In any case, can we all just agree that reading takes a huge role in encouraging a thirst for knowledge and expanding one’s imagination? Why not take advantage and sneak in a bit of learning knowing your child will be none the wiser to your master plan? Cue evil laugh…

I hope that these few tips help you to embark on a new and exciting start to the school year. There are so many things to look forward to: new friends, new teachers and new learning adventures. Don’t let being unprepared keep you and your child from getting the most out of what your school has to offer. Best wishes to all and may each of your school days be prepared!

Good-bye to Summer Vacation: One Mom’s Happiness


Congrats, my fellow parents… WE MADE IT. Another successful summer vacation is over and it is now Back to School Eve! I just wanted to wish all of the families out there a very restful night’s sleep and a morning full of excitement as your little ones head off to start a new year of learning.

In honor of this special day, I thought I would do something a little different to explain why I just might be a bit more excited than the kiddos for tomorrow morning. What better way to express this than with a homemade tune! Did you just cringe? Well, you’ll have to pull out your singing voice on this one… or maybe just follow my lead (for the sake of any family member within earshot) and sing it in your head. This is based on the “My Favorite Things” tune from the Sound of Music movie.

Raindrops on noses and kids who won’t listen,

Swimming and sweating and sunblock that glistens.

Brown soggy diapers that leak and then cling,

These are a few of my favorite things.

Sweet little faces with dirt by the oodles,

Door slams and s’more grahams and crayons for doodles.

Wild child that screams with the force of their swing,

These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in play dresses and gnarly head bashes,

Mud streaks that smear on their nose and bug rashes.

Long-legged spiders they squish and then fling,

These are a few of my favorite things.

When the kids bite, when they throw things,

When I’m feeling mad,

I simply envision the school year begins

and then I don’t feel so bad!

Redesigned By M

DIY-er who loves to redesign, repurpose, and reorganize just about everything.

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