Back-to-School Week 3 – Meal Planning and The Dreaded Backpack...

Well, you're in the homestretch now, parents!  Back-to-school is an opportunity to set new ground rules and expectations with your kids.  Try to establish some new routines that will ease your pain when the school year is in full swing. This week’s post can help with some of the most difficult school organizing challenges.  Lunch and the Dreaded Backpack…! (Cue the high pitched wail...)

Step 1:  School Lunches

There are hundreds of articles and cookbooks looking to solve this age-old problem for you, so I won’t try to completely solve it for you here.  But this simple tip can get help you out most weeks. 

Get with the kids and have everyone list as many school lunch ideas as they can.  If you can come up with 10, you’ve got half a month’s worth of lunches.  Put them on a list, and let each kid pick one they want this week.  Follow the plan for two weeks and then start over.  Boom.  Lunch planned.   Whenever you can, add a few new ideas for variety. 

If you struggle to get 10 ideas, ask your kids what their friends eat.  All parents are struggling for ideas to give their kids a healthy lunch – crowd source it -- Post a survey question on your PTA Facebook page.  Check out Pinterest for ideas and inspiration.  Make one day a week ‘buy lunch day” -- then you only need 8 ideas!  

A product I love are Easy Lunchboxes.  Fill each slot and you’ve got a decent portion controlled balanced meal.


Step 2 - The Dreaded Backpack


We all know the scene… kids walk in, drop the bag on the floor, head to the pantry or fridge, then disappear into some alternate universe, leaving you with a pile on the floor.  If you can start a new routine here on the first day of school, you might just conquer this problem.   The backpack is full of things you need to know about.  We’d all love it if they put it on the hook you so lovingly labeled for them, but that may not work with many kids.  Here’s an idea that might: 

Get a big plastic storage bin for each child. Lay it on the floor in your kitchen, mudroom, or next to the front door -- A visible place.   When your kids come home, here’s the routine: 

  • Dump the entire contents into the bin. 

  • Take out lunch boxes, take to sink. 

  • Toss out any trash or old food.

  • Take out important papers from school, put in the spot you’ve designated in the family command center  (See Week 1 blog!)  or hand the parent in charge

  • Look at homework for the day, set a time to do it. 

  • When homework is done, or before bed, repack backpack.

If this routine can occurs whenever kids get home it save you many headaches:

  • You’ll have that important paper the day it was intended. 

  • The lunch box will get cleaned with the dinner dishes,  ready for the next lunch. 

  • Nothing will mold in the backpack.

  • Homework will get remembered.

Start with this one on the first day of school, and maybe this year you won’t fear your child’s backpack nearly as much.  You’ll have to repeat yourself for at least a week, and then probably do a refresher.  It takes time to establish habits. A checklist on or near the bin to help them remember what you want done can be very helpful.  And to make sure it happens, consider no TV, video games, or friends until it does.

This is the final installment of my back-to-school series.  I hope you got some new ideas to get you through these first few weeks and make life simpler the whole year.  

And if you need a little help, you can always hire a professional organizer.  :)