Now that my kids have been back to school almost a month, I have already had to think on my feet several times to come up with back-to-school solutions like quick and healthy breakfast foods and getting my kids back on a good sleep schedule. Take a look at some of our ideas to see if these tips can help your family readjust to the busy school year.
*Sleep routine problems: With a teenager and a tween in our home, everyone seems to have a different bedtime now. It is no longer cut and dry with a 8:30 pm bedtime for all, like it was when they were younger. I found that giving my kids their own alarm clock was very helpful in the waking up on time department.
For my tween daughter, I found a cool alarm clock that she loves, plus this clock also works great for little kids! The Zazoo Photo Clock ($89.99 at www.zazookids.com) is great for her age because it has an alarm clock, photo display of her favorite pics, music with stored tunes from her own MP3 player and even a video display of her home movies. So she uses it as an alarm clock and a multi-media device.
For little kids, the Zazoo is the perfect first clock because it displays a moon when it is not time to get out of bed and a sun to let little ones know that it is time to rise and shine. Plus kids can wake to sweet children's songs that come stored in the clock and switch to their own loaded music as they grow. This is a very cool invention!
*Quick & Healthy Breakfast Options: It doesn't seem to matter how early I wake on the school day because at some point, the morning becomes hectic! Finding healthy foods that can be prepared quickly that my kids will actually eat can be tricky, so I asked an expert. Sprouts Farmers Market Certified Nutritionist Janet Little shared a few ideas that I recently published on my managedmoms.com website. She says that a high-protein breakfast combined with complex carbohydrates will keep kids feeling fuller longer. Plus a protein morning meal provides fewer sugar-based calories that leave kids fatigued and hungry soon after they eat.
In the article, she suggests foods like hummus and almonds spread on an English muffin or adding a scoop of protein powder to pancake mix. I love those ideas. She also recommends going a la carte with combinations like a hard boiled egg, yogurt and turkey slices.
I also found a healthy pancake mix called Pamela's Products that is wheat-free and gluten-free and contains ingredients like brown rice flour, buttermilk and natural almond meal. So if you need a good gluten-free mix for pancakes, cookies and more, I recommend this brand, however it does contain tree nuts, so it doesn't work for those with tree nut allergies. I found this brand at Safeway.
*Forgotten permission slips, homework, etc: With two kids in school, on any given day, there are forms for me to sign, dates for me to record and test questions to quiz my kids on, so we have implemented what I call backpack break time. That means that upon arriving home, the two rules are that everyone must follow are to immediately unload my car followed by immediately unloading the backpacks. This way, no important papers are left behind in my car when I have to take one of them to practice or rehearsal. The second rule is that, while they are enjoying their after school snack, we must unload the backpacks right then and there for me to sign papers, etc. We implemented these rules after learning the hard way. Once a very important assignment that my girl needed to complete went in my car to my son's hockey game that was played over an hour away in Peoria. There was no way that I could get it all the way back to the other side of town, where my girl was doing homework with her babysitter, so this 2-part rule has prevented that stressful occurrence from happening again, thank goodness!
*Homework supplies organization: After trying several organization tools for the variety of supplies needed to complete homework at home, I found my favorite tool this year at The Container Store. It is called the Jumbo Utility Cart ($59.99 at The Container Store) and it comes with four removable plastic drawers that all sit on a frame on wheels. So the entire unit can be wheeled out for easy access or one drawer can be removed at a time for specific needs. No more kids asking me where the stapler, calculator, paper clips, pencils and more are located!
*Cool Get Organized Online Tool: My organization/home decor expert and writer for my website, Bridget told me about a brilliant online calendar tool called Cozi and I love it! In fact, my entire family is digging this FREE service that makes sharing our busy schedules a breeze. I simply logged onto www.cozi.com and signed up. Now when I enter my daughter's dance rehearsal or my own dentist appointment, the entire family receives that calendar in an instant on their smart phones. Yesterday, my teenage son entered all of his upcoming hockey practices, so my husband and I are updated in an instant with his schedule. I also love it because my kids can check their own Cozi phone calendar to see what days are open before they ask me about adding an event.
Cozi also has a shopping and to do list that enables my husband and I to have instant grocery lists in our phones when we are at the store. No more duplications and no more running out of needed items. I love this tool and can't say enough good stuff about it. It has helped our family to destress while we work as a team to tackle our busy lives!
*After School Snack Attack: I almost can't believe how hungry my kids are after school and because this time hits after their school day, but before their afternoon practice and rehearsal schedule, the snacks need to be healthy, filling and desirable. Here is a list of foods that we agree on that satisfies and nourishes....
*Cheese & Cracker plate with fruit & drink -- Serve whole grain crackers and experiment with yummy cheese flavors from stores like Sprouts Farmers Market. For a better juice box option, try the Organic Honest Kids line that has half the sugar as most other juice box companies. Each pouch contains 10 grams of sugar, while many other juice box drinks have much more than that. My kids like the fruit punch and lemonade varieties that are sold at Safeway and other grocery stores.
*Protein Plate from Starbucks -- Starbucks has a variety of cool Bistro Boxes and my top fave is the Protein Plate that includes one cage-free hardboiled egg with salt and pepper packets, white cheddar cheese, honey peanut butter spread, multigrain muesli bread, apples and grapes.
*Funky Monkey Freeze Dried Fruit Packs - If your kids like freeze dried fruit, try the Funky Monkey brand that is made with 100% real fruit with no added sugar, plus it is gluten free. Funky Monkey snacks are sold at Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods and Safeway stores, in addition to many other stores.
*Skeeter Cookies for kids that need nut-free snacks. Order these online at www.skeetersnacks.com.
*Small veggie and cheese ready-made trays sold at Sprouts Farmers Market.
*Bulk foods that your kids can select and bag at Sprouts like trail mix, yogurt covered raisins and more.
*A homemade cheese crisp made with your choice of cheese and veggies. My son likes Sprouts Wisconsin Jalapeno Cheddar cheese melted on his tortilla. A tasty and spicy way to get calcium in the after school snack. Add some chicken or black beans for protein, too.
*Beat the Heat item for teens: My poor high school freshman boy has to walk quite the distance with a huge load in his backpack. He longs for the lockers that we lucky parents had when we were teenagers! And after school he golfs with his school team, so I worry about him getting overheated in our 115 plus degree temps. I found a product that is not recommended for kids, but is recommended for teens and adults called Cool Off Ultra Soft Cooling Towelettes. Each little towel is infused with natural herbs, plant botanicals and essential oils that give instant relief to the hot body areas like the back of the neck, inner arms, forehead and more. And for us moms of teenagers, if you are getting a hot flash, try one of these for yourself, too! Cool Off is sold at CVS or visit www.thequickchill.com for more information.
*Rundown Remedies: Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when our kids get rundown and become susceptible to illness. In addition to getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods, I also have a few extra supplements that I give to my kiddos. My list includes:
*EmergenC at the first sign of that rundown feeling. The popular brand makes a kids variety that my daughter loves. Just this morning, she requested the EmergenC mixture in her take along water bottle, so that she could sip extra Vitamin C while at school today. I thought that was a good idea.
*Oscilloccinum is a homeopathic medicine that has no side effects and is non-drowsy. I first heard about the tasty quick-dissolving pellets from a friend who swears by it for herself and for her family. She says to take it at the first sign of feeling run-down or ill. My kids love this stuff.
*Probiotics, especially if your children have to take antibiotics, which usually happens at least once during the school year! We like the Garden of Life RAW Probiotics for Kids and I take the same brand that is designed for women. For my teenager, a Sprouts Farmers Market expert recommended the Ultimate Flora Adult Formula.
*Power of Nature Purely-C Wild Amazon Camu Camu is a raw food vitamin C that my Mom bought for me to try because she swears by this stuff. I found mine on amazon.com for $22 for a bottle of 90 capsules. This particular brand is highly absorbable and provides the unique powers of natural vitamin C, plus flavonoids, as found in nature. It is the only 100% food-source Vitamin C, plus flavonoid, formula available. The last time I was fighting a virus, I took this stuff and I was able to beat the germs without needing an antibiotic. I was thrilled! This is my Mama go-to Vitamin C and I give it to my teenager, too.
What are your back-to-school solutions? I'm sure I missed a few! Share here in the comments section and be sure to check out my website at www.managedmoms.com for more parenting articles, recipes, beauty news and more. Now that August is coming to a close, I'm wishing you a successful September as our kids take on the school year!