Four Tricks to Master the School Year

Keep cool over school with these organization tips

By StatePoint

Four Tricks to Master the School Year

The new school year brings homework, practices, games and school conferences. When you’re already a busy parent, these additional tasks and commitments can be daunting. Stay grounded (not to mention sane) by following these tips to handle it all.

  • Centralize communication

    You can stay in sync with your whole family by using a digital calendar. Smartphone apps allow multiple users to share to-do lists, appointments and more. In addition, many apps have messaging capabilities to ensure users can share details and instructions (“Bring treats for the holiday party Tuesday”) and last-minute changes (“Grandma is picking up the kids today”) with one or more family members.

  • Create a home command post

    Transform an area everyone passes, such as a kitchen nook or a corner of the family room, into a complete “home command station.” Include a shelf or cubby with an inbox and outbox so permission slips, bills and important documents don’t get lost. For parents who prefer using a physical calendar over a digital calendar, get a large one and post it in this area. Consider using a dry erase poster board calendar and have markers at the ready.

    Make this station even more useful by adding a dedicated space for children to do homework. Include a desk, computer, school supplies and a bright desk lamp. Encourage success by posting recent “wins” nearby, like that aced spelling test or impressionist art masterpiece.  

  • Map out meals
    Before heading to the market, map out your meals for the week. Smartphone apps can help you compile grocery and meal lists, or you can find free printable lists on the internet.

    Think in terms of healthy meals you can prepare ahead of time. For example, make a dinner casserole over the weekend to serve on busy Monday nights. You can prepare and freeze individual servings of chopped fruits and vegetables in resealable bags for breakfast smoothies. When you’re ready to use them, simply place the frozen produce, along with juice, milk or a nondairy milk alternative, into a high-powered blender. Models to choose from include the Vitamix A3300 Ascent Series blender.

    For lunch, you can make nut and seed butters to provide healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and protein. Mix unsalted, roasted almonds and canola oil in a high-powered blender to create homemade almond butter; or blend sunflower seeds, flaxseed, sesame seeds and sunflower oil for a no-nut butter. Pair these delicious spreads with jam on whole-wheat bread for a twist on the peanut butter sandwich.  

  • Set up bins for lunch-packing
    Buy some inexpensive, plastic containers or bins that will fit on your refrigerator shelves. Label each as holding certain lunch items, such as “cut up fruits.” For sandwiches, group lettuce, sliced cheeses and meats in a bin. A snack container could hold string cheese and grapes.

    For the pantry, label a bin for items such as fruit cups and pre-portioned pretzels. Place sandwich bags, napkins and plastic utensils in another bin, and you have created a timesaving station that will make school mornings easier for all.

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