For whatever reason, summer goes by faster than any other season out there. Even before I had children I remember feeling like once we got to the 4th of July I would blink and summer would be over!
Despite the faster pace of the season, one of the best things about summer is the slower pace of the days and the lack of routine with your little ones out of school. But, one of the best things about fall is the little ones going back to routine (which they thrive on!). Which means we, as parents, do too. (The dichotomy of parenthood feelings is something that continues to blow my mind. Can you relate?)
But those slow mornings are about to turn into fast-paced rush hours to get small humans dressed, presentable, and fed. And, oh yes, to drop off on time! And in that process, mom, dad, or caregiver’s needs often get left behind. But not this year—this year we’re prepared and ready. And if you aren’t, that’s okay because this blog post is going to do that for you.
I broke this list up into two categories:
- Three tips focused on your littles
- And three tips for the parents and caregivers to set themselves up for ease and low stress for the going-back-to-school time
And we are ending the post today with two recipes that will set you up for success and happiness. Let’s get into it!
Back-To-School Tips for Kids
1. Set up the Morning Routine in Advance
Depending on your kiddo’s age, this could be a real game changer. Like adults, kids thrive off routine and enjoy expectations. Try implementing a simple routine system, like a family whiteboard or clipboard with a checklist (or whatever works for your family). Use these tools to show them what needs to happen on school mornings before getting in the car. These low-effort systems can go a long way. For example, add pictures next to a checklist of items that show:
- Brushing your teeth
- Getting dressed
- Eating breakfast
- Putting on shoes
- Grabbing lunch and backpack
Setting up expectations in advance can make so many mornings a little smoother.
2. Give Them Some Control
Giving a little control, especially to the younger ones, can go a long way. This can look like letting them pick out their outfits in the morning or their snacks for their lunch boxes. Giving some control back can also help prevent fights or breakdowns. This helps move things along and is one of the keys to morning success.
3. Prevent Hangry Kids After School
Kiddos' blood sugars are just like ours—they need consistent fuel and balanced energy to stay stable. That said, the after-school hours are tough. Especially immediately after the summer break. They just expended so much energy (mentally and physically) and who knows when their last snack was or what they ate. Having a snack ready for pick up or right after school can help prevent some major meltdowns.
As a registered dietitian, my best recommendation here would be to try and avoid (if you can) carb-only snacks. Instead, focus on carbs with protein or fat. And don’t forget about fiber! This combo helps best balance blood sugars and provides longer-lasting energy to make it to dinner time.
Here are some after-school snack ideas:
- Fruit + cheese
- Graham crackers or any crackers + nut butter
- Applesauce + cheese sticks
- Chips or veggies + dip
- Egg bites (recipe below!)
- Yogurt and granola
- Granola bars
- Toaster waffle + nut butter
- Half a sandwich
Back-To-School Tips for Adults
4. Pack Lunches the Night Before
The morning hustle—no matter how much you prep for it—will always have a hiccup. So if you can take one thing off your plate, this would be my recommendation. Prepping those lunches the night before can save so much time and stress in the morning.
And a hot tip that I am loving right now is instead of focusing on a “meal” at lunch, try to focus on pairing food groups together. This “bento-box” style of feeding our kids can be so powerful. It makes the lunches look less “boring” in their eyes but also simplifies our creation time as parents.
Here’s the formula you’ll want to stick with: CARB + PROTEIN + COLOR + FUN
And fill it in! Maybe some days that means a sandwich with fruit and some chips or popcorn. And other days it means crackers, cheese, sliced apples, baby carrots, and chocolate-covered pretzels. Both of these options are balanced choices for our kids, and knowing this can help so much mentally.
5. Make Weekday Dinner Theme Nights
Putting on the dinner show every night is tough. I get it! But sometimes you can make it fun and exciting, and also easier, by having nightly expectations. You can also prevent boredom with these nights by making the themes gentle and switching a few things up each time.
Here are a few ideas:
- Monday is pasta night. Change up the sauce and protein you pair it with. You can do baked pasta, cold pasta salads, or warm dishes. Make it work for you and the seasons.
- Taco Tuesday is a crowd-pleaser!
- Sandwich Wednesdays. It doesn’t have a ring to it like Taco Tuesday but it sure can make life easier by setting an expectation that this mid-day of the week meal will be a fun, simple one. You could do fancy grilled cheese and soups and salads, or things like tuna melts and baked veggies. Have fun with it! The key is to make it work for your family.
6. Prioritize Parental Self-Care
Try to carve out a few minutes of peace to start and end your day. This could look like pouring your favorite OLIPOP flavor (mine is cream soda!) in a wine glass over ice while you are making those lunches at night. Or lighting a candle and having your coffee alone a few minutes before the house wakes up in the morning. And don’t forget to remind yourself just how amazing you are. You got this!
Back-To-School Recipes to Make Life Even Easier
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Overnight Oats
- ½ Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- ½ Cup milk (any milk works, could do chocolate milk if you want that chocolatey morning feel)
- 1 tbsp nut butter
- 1 scoop of any protein powder you like OR ½ cup Greek yogurt (if you use yogurt you can decrease the amount of milk you add by ½)
- Cinnamon- about a tsp
- 2 tbsp chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- As much or as little strawberries as you desire in oats- try a handful
Add all ingredients to the jar, close the lid, and put in the fridge at night. Enjoy cold or heated up in the morning on the go. Extra points if you use a cute mason jar and are eating it *safely* while in the drop-off line.
Make Ahead Egg Bites
What I love most about this recipe is that they are customizable for you and your littles. Change them up based on mood or preferences. Pair them with toast, an English muffin, or a wrap for a more balanced meal on the go. Plus a side of fruit for some fiber.
- 1 dozen eggs
- Aim to add about 1 cup of chopped veggies (choose from a combo of onions, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, zucchini, squash - or any other veggies you love)
- ½ cup (or more or less you pick) shredded cheese
- Optional: ½ cup cottage cheese
- Salt, pepper, and garlic powder as desired
- Olive oil or spray
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Spray 12 cup muffin tray with olive oil or any nonstick spray
- Option to saute the veggies you are adding before putting them in with the eggs or not. If you do cook them, cook until soft and just starting to golden up.
- Add all eggs, cracked, to a big mixing bowl and whisk
- Add cheese and spices and cottage cheese if using and mix again
- Add veggies in
- Pour egg mixture evenly into muffin cups
- Bake for 15-20 mins, let cool, enjoy, and store in the fridge
Wishing you all the smoothest and happiest back-to-school transition yet!
- Like adults, kids thrive off routine and enjoy expectations. Try implementing a simple morning routine system, like a family whiteboard or clipboard with a checklist.
- To keep kids’ blood sugar and energy levels stable, try and avoid carb-only snacks. Instead, focus on carbs with protein or fat. And don’t forget about fiber!
- But it’s not just about the kids, there are some back-to-school tips you can take for a smoother transition like packing lunches the night before, assigning themes to your weekday dinners for easier prep, and prioritizing your own parental self-care.
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