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14 Protein-Packed Back to School Breakfast & Lunch Ideas for Kids

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With three school-aged kids and a toddler, I do not have time for fancy meal prep in the morning. I have just a few minutes to whip up breakfast, throw together lunches, and get everyone in the car (hoping they all remembered to brush their teeth!) When it comes to preparing breakfasts and lunches for my 4 kids during back-to-school season, I’m looking for quick, healthy, tasty and fairly priced options.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Eckrich Deli Meat. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Back to School Breakfast and Lunches for Kids

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Offering Eckrich Deli Meat gives my kids the lean protein they need. Eckrich Deli Meat is versatile for use in many breakfast and lunch recipes that kids love. Plus, it’s gluten-free and delicious! Eckrich helps me spend less time in the kitchen but still lets me offer a nutritious meal to my kids. And now I can find freshly sliced Eckrich Deli Meat at my local Walmart deli counter.

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Back to School Breakfasts Made Easy

A breakfast prepared with lean protein will keep tummies full longer so that kids can focus in class before snack or lunch. So many breakfasts geared for kids are high in carbs and sugar and don’t offer the lean protein they need for muscle building. Skip the sugary cereals and offer the kids one of these quick breakfast meals to give them staying power for the morning and into the afternoon. Round out the meal with complex carbs (like whole grain toast or tortillas), fresh fruit and a glass of milk.

AD These quick, protein-packed breakfast and lunch ideas are kid-approved and fast to make for hurried mornings.

Breakfast with Dinner’s Leftovers

I tend to overcook certain foods at dinner the night before so I’ll have the leftovers to use in breakfast the following day. Foods like spinach, broccoli, chopped onions, mushrooms, black beans and potatoes go well with eggs the next morning. Or consider preparing breakfast the night before. Items like quiche or burritos can easily be pre-made and then warmed in the microwave.

14 quick, kid-approved back to school breakfast and lunch ideas for busy mornings that are protein-packed and delicious.

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Budgeting for back to school? Yeah, aren’t we all! I have a first grader this year, which means he’ll now need a backpack. And I also have two new high schoolers this year! Both have had the same backpacks since third grade (wow!) and need upgrades. And of course the added expenses of new shoes, school supplies and replacing outgrown clothing. But do we really need to buy ALL of those new things? Check out my tips for assessing what you have and how I’m budgeting for back to school time!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

This post was originally published August 6th, 2014

Budgeting for Back to School

The stores have us in the mid-set that “back to school” means freshly sharpened pencils, crisp new clothes and brand new shoes. There must be a snazzy new backpack, bright new spiral bound notebooks and never-used crayons. All the kids in the ads look like there is no better place to be than at school, decked out head-in-toe in shiny new stuff!

Sure, new stuff might soften the landing a bit for kids who are reluctant and cranky about starting the new school year. But what if you don’t need anything new this year? What if the school stuff they were just using back in June is still fine and acceptable for September?

I think all kids love getting brand new stuff but it’s certainly not always necessary, especially if what they have is still in usable condition. Why waste money buying or replacing items that are truly good and usable just because it’s what you’ve “always done” or because the stores are having a sale!

Here are my top tips on how not to get sucked into the Back to School buying trap!

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Assess What You Already Have

Put your credit card back in your wallet. Before you run out and buy a bunch of new stuff, you need to figure out what things are essentials and what things can be skipped this year. You’ll do this by assessing what you already have and determining what you truly need to replace.

BACKPACKS & LUNCH BAGS

  • Inspect the current backpack. Are straps, zippers and hooks all in good working order? Sometimes all the backpack needs is a good washing! During the year, I have my kids completely clean out their backpacks every two weeks and we toss them into the laundry. Upkeep is important during the entire year to keep items in good working condition. If the backpack is truly broken or has an un-repairable rip or tear, then it’s time to toss and buy new.
  • Consider purchasing a quality backpack that will get your student through multiple years and has a guarantee. I bought my son’s backpack from L.L. Bean before he started 3rd grade. That backpack got him all the way through to the 8th grade! (And you have to know how rough boys are with their stuff!) We’re only replacing it because he needs a larger version.
  • My daughter also has a backpack from L.L. Bean and the hanging strap frayed towards the end of the year. I was able to exchange for a brand new one! L.L. Bean has a great return policy and stands by their products, replacing even if it’s been used. Buy the best you can afford and don’t waste money buying something cheap that you’ll have to replace mid-year.
  • Lunch bags should be washed every week during the school year to keep them sanitary and in good condition. Treat stains right away to avoid them setting in. If the hook & loop closure, zipper or snaps are broken off and can’t be repaired or there is a funky smell that doesn’t dissipate with washing, it’s time to buy a new one.
Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

My son started third grade with this backpack and used it all the way to 8th grade!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

  • Every page used up in the spiral notebook? Okay, time to buy a new one. Only half the pages used? Rip out the used pages and finish up with it before buying another.
  • Broken crayons or paper peeled off? Relegate them to the arts and crafts bin at home or toss them out. Gently used crayons that still work just fine? Keep ’em and there is no need to buy a new box. Same goes for pencils, pens, glue, glue sticks and erasers! If they are still in usable condition then just keep using them.
  • Folders with rips can be repaired and reinforced along the spine with a strip of colorful duct tape. Decorate the fronts with markers or Washi Tape.
  • Plastic pencil boxes often just need a cleaning (run it through the dishwasher after wiping it out). A good scrubbing with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will bring it back to like-new condition. Colorful stickers decorating the top will make it “new to you”.

Read More: Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

CLOTHES

  • Pants with blown-out knees beyond repair or that are now high-water length should either be tossed into the rag bin or delegated to donation. Tees and sweaters with unfixable holes, unsightly stains or that are too short at the waist or sleeves face the same fate. Socks that are too small, have holes or that are heavily stained make good cleaning rags. Underpants that are too tight or have stretched out elastic should be thrown out.
  • Based on what is still in the closet and drawers, assess the need for additional items at that point. Kids probably don’t need more than 7 of each daily wear item (one for each day of the week), so 7 long sleeved tees, 7 short sleeved, 7 pairs of pants, etc. My kids do have more than this, just for the sake of variety. However kids don’t really need in excess (it also helps to streamline the morning dressing routine when they have less to choose from!) I rarely buy my kids brand new clothes at the store any more unless it’s something like a Christmas or birthday gift. When I buy new items, I shop either Gymboree because they have high quality clothes that resist stains (and great sales throughout the year). I buy gently used clothing at the local thrift store or online at ThredUp.

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

SHOES

  • Shoes with holes or completely worn out soles should be thrown out. Put decent but dirty shoes into the washing machine or the sink for a scrubbing. Finish by cleaning up the rubber with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to bring them back to life. Replace frayed or stained shoe laces with bright new ones.
  • It’s tempting to buy cheap shoes when your kid’s feet are growing! I recommend buying high quality shoes that will last until your child outgrows them. I have personally had great luck with Pediped shoes. My daughter wore her pair almost every school day for a year. I was able to toss them into the wash every other week and only when they were getting tight did they develop a small hole in the sole. I definitely recommend paying a little more for one or two fantastic pairs of shoes (rather than 5 or 10 pairs of cheap and poorly made shoes that will need constant replacing).

Read More: Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Top Tips for Budgeting for Back to School

Discuss Budgeting for Back to School With Your Kids

If your kids are accustomed to getting brand new stuff every year but this year they don’t truly need anything, you’ll need to address this with them upfront. Kids are going to expect the regular back-to-school shopping extravaganza and if it’s not going to happen this could set them up for disappointment. You’re going to have some very disgruntled kids going back to school with “the same old stuff”.

  • Involve your kids in the assessing process. Discuss how the closet full of clothes still fit,  are in good shape & will be acceptable for them right now.
  • Allow kids to decorate last year’s pencil boxes or folders with fun washi tape, Duct Tape or stickers.
  • Attach a fun key chain or fob to the zipper pull to freshen up last year’s backpack or hoodie.
  • Compromise by purchasing one new (or “new to them”) outfit for the first day of school and to wear for school pictures.

Read More: 12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have.

Divert The Focus Off of “Getting New Stuff”

Get back to the heart of what going back to school is all about and take the focus off the need for new stuff by starting new family traditions that don’t include buying new stuff.

  • Take pictures of your new student.
  • Cook a special first day breakfast or dinner.
  • Greet them with balloons on the front door when they get home.
  • Create a first day interview that you can save in your memory box.
  • Serve a special dessert.

Read More: 5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

Just make the day special for them! Here’s to new adventures…even while wearing last school year’s shoes!


In what ways are you budgeting for back to school? 

Budgeting for back to school? Check out these practical tips for assessing what you really need to buy for school with advice on using what you already have. #BacktoSchool #budget #Kids #School #Fall #Budget #SavingMoney

 

 

 

12 Secrets to Successful and Stress-free School Mornings

What are your feelings about school mornings? Maybe you and the kids are “morning people” and everyone jumps out of bed on time. But if you’re reading this, probably not! Your mornings are likely stressful and rushed. Start your day on school mornings without the stress with these 12 tips with ideas for a happier daily morning routine.

Making School Mornings Easier

I have the morning routine down pat! It wasn’t always that way…in fact, I have a decades-old history of oversleeping, scrambling out the door wearing two different shoes, hitting the snooze alarm 13 times and all those other not-so-fun ways to meet the sunrise! Just ask my mom, the poor lady who had the privilege of waking me throughout elementary school…boy, was I a groggy mess!

This is an update of a post originally published on August 28th, 2014.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

12 Tips for Stress-free School Mornings

I decided I didn’t want to spend my mornings stressed out, yelling or running late. Once my kids were school age and ready for school, I implemented these secrets to successful school mornings. I’m here to tell you that having a morning routine is key to household happiness. Nobody feels very excited about their day when it starts in a frantic rush. Read on for my tips to streamline your morning routine and keep yourself sane in the process. Ask me how many times my kids have been late to school and I will proudly tell you NEVER!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

1. Prep for School Mornings the Night Before

Mornings don’t start in the morning, they start the night before! Prepare as much as you can the day and night before. This way school mornings are started off in a calm manner. There isn’t any wild rushing around in search of things or trying to get too much done in a limited amount of time. Here are 7 ways that you can streamline the morning routine by prepping the night before.

2. Plan Outfits Head to Toe

Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I’ve planned my next-day wardrobe the evening before. My son has no issues with getting up, pulling out a shirt and shorts and easy-peasy, he’s dressed. But when pressed for time, some kids will have trouble choosing their outfits for the day. They may also choose weather-inappropriate things (like a sweater when it’s going to be 90 degrees!)

I work with my kids to plan outfits for the week and stack them inside a closet organizer along with socks, underpants and hair accessories. All the kids have to do in the morning is grab the next outfit and get dressed.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

A hanging organizer for outfits.

I don’t stop wardrobe planning with the kids. Every night I decide what I’m going to wear and set it aside in my closet. I pull out my jewelry and set it on my dresser so in the morning I don’t even second guess myself, I just grab and go. Have your kids help choose their outfits on Sunday night and gather all parts (socks, underpants, accessories) so they have them together.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!


3. Everything Has a Place

No mad dash looking for anything in the morning because it will have already been put there the night before. Teach your kids to prep the night before and get them in a lifelong good habit of organization and timeliness! Bedrooms are tidied up and toys and books are put away before bedtime. We have no morning scrambles for anything because it was already set in the right place the night before.

I recommend having designated hooks and/or storage bins for school morning items. I love using a label maker so there’s no confusion on where things go.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

Backpacks – Every afternoon after school, backpacks should be cleared out. Then return all paperwork, permission slips, library books and homework to the backpack in the evening so it’s ready to grab in the morning.

Shoes – Shoes should be sitting together where you can step into them going out the door.

Hair – Hair styling products like hairbrush, de-tangling spray and elastics/bows should be together so it’s easy to style in the morning. We keep all hair styling items in a bin under the bathroom sink so we can pull it all out and put it away fast.

Jackets – Jackets are on their own hook next to the backpacks.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

4. Lunches Made in Bunches

Buy in bulk and portion items out into plastic snack bags. Again individual bins are great for storage! Have separate bins for the fridge and another for the cupboards to hold school lunch items. I store cold snacks in a bin in the fridge (like cheese cubes, melon slices or carrot sticks). Dry snacks are in a bin in the cupboard (like chips and crackers, granola bars or a cookie).

The only thing I make the morning-of is the sandwich. Everything else has already been prepped so in the morning all I do is grab a few pre-portioned bags to make a well-rounded meal.


Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

5. Set the Stage for Sleep

Sometimes I have to remind my husband that a tickle-fest right before bedtime is not going to get our kindergartner in the mood for sleep! Shortly after dinner, we start the routine of quiet playtime, reading in bed, a light snack and teeth brushing before turning off the lights. A warm bath or shower and lavender essential oil in the diffuser right before bed can also help kids relax. Read more about using essential oils in the bedtime routine.

We turn off the television long before bedtime to keep stimulus at bay. The pace is slow and calm and our kids know what to expect, even the toddler (don’t try to skip story time!). Keeping the nightly routine the same every evening can help sleep come quickly and have kids sleeping all night in their own beds.

6. A Reasonable Bedtime

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, elementary school aged kids need about 10-11 hours of sleep each night. My kids wake up at 6 am Monday through Friday so that means they should be going to bed no later than 8:00 pm.

With a toddler, first grader and high school aged kids in our house, we have everyone in bed around the same time each night. Bedtime is between 7:45 to 8:15 pm and no later than 9 pm on the weekends. We aim for consistency on the bedtime and the kids show the consistency in their behavior and attitudes. They hop right out of bed in the morning, aren’t groggy in the afternoons and are sleepy enough in the evenings that they put themselves to bed on time each night.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

7. Put Yourself to Bed at a Decent Time, Too!

I’m the worst offender of this in my family. After everyone else is in bed and I finally find time to myself I find myself puttering around doing nothing, reading too many Facebook posts and starting projects that really shouldn’t be started at 10:36 pm. And then I’m kicking myself in the morning when I don’t want to get up!

I’ve pledged to start getting to bed at a decent time, one that gives me more than 5 measly hours of sleep each night. Even after just a week of this I’m feeling better, waking easily and am not “hitting the wall” at 2 o’clock each day any more.

8. A Restful Room is Conducive to Sleep 

A slightly cool room, comfy bedding, white noise (like a fan), darkness, and a soothing scent (like lavender) can all invite refreshing sleep. On occasion (especially during periods of stress), my kids have enjoyed listening to a relaxing story tape or soft music with the lights out.

I’ve trained my kids not to require a nightlight because if the lights are on, they are more likely to have their eyes open. If it’s very dark in the room then what’s the point of having your eyes open, there is nothing to look at…close your eyes and go to sleep!

I have more sleeping tips here from TravelingMom.


Good Morning Sunshine!

After a peaceful evening the night before and a good night’s rest, your kids will be in a better position to have a happy school morning routine. Here are my tips for nailing the morning routine and getting the kids out the door on time.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

9. Awakening to an Alarm Clock 

If you have kids who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, get them used to waking with an alarm clock. Looking back, if I’d used an alarm clock as a kid instead of waking to my mom coming in to my room (over and over!) I would have gotten up the first time instead of the tenth. The alarm clock only goes off once unless you use the snooze button. But I’ve never taught my kids what the snooze button is (they assume that the clock goes off once and that’s it…tricky me!)

If you don’t get up you’re going to be late, easy as that. When MOM is waking you, as a kid you know that she’ll keep coming back in as many times as it takes and eventually the kids and mom are trained in the wrong direction!

Are a habitual snoozer? Try to break yourself out of the habit. It’s not good quality sleep anyway. Get up right away and either open the window to let in the morning sunlight or turn on the light in the room to get your body adjusted. Make your bed right away and you won’t be tempted to crawl back in!


10. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

We never leave the house without breakfast. I’m surprised when my kids say that so many of their friends don’t eat breakfast in the morning. I can’t imagine trying to function for so many hours until lunch on an empty stomach. Leave plenty of time in the morning routine to fit in a good breakfast.

I get up early enough to prepare a quick and balanced breakfast for me and the kids. This could be scrambled eggs, toast and a slice of melon. Fruit smoothies with juice, milk or soy milk are a hit. Homemade oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon is often requested. Or if we are more rushed, a simple bowl of cereal and a banana.

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings!

I like a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit, agave and a sprinkling of granola. I often take mine “to-go” and eat it when I get to work. Sometimes the night before I will make banana or apple nut muffins to include with breakfast.

On weekends when I have time to make pancakes or waffles, I make extras and freeze them to heat up for breakfasts during the week. Add some whipped cream and a few blueberries and voila, a fancy breakfast on a Thursday!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

11. Final Brushing Call: Teeth, Hair and Out the Door!

I have the kids take turns in the bathroom brushing teeth and hair because mayhem and delays tend to ensue when they attempt to share the sink! I usually give my daughter’s hair a quick style and maybe pop in a bow. We keep a box under the sink that holds hair elastics, a brush and detangling spray so everything is in one place. If a fancier hair style is requested (like for picture day), we allow extra time by getting up earlier.

Give kids the 10 minute and 5 minute countdown. Ten minutes before you need them out of the house, call it out. Then repeat at 5 minutes till. We keep shoes and backpacks on a shelf in the garage so the kids grab their lunches off the counter on their way out and within a few minutes we’re in the car and on our way.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

12. It’s Early…Know Your Limits

Don’t try and cram too many chores in the morning routine. I keep it simple by requesting that beds be made before we leave the house. My older kids also take turns emptying the dishwasher and reloading with the breakfast dishes. If complicated hair styles or made-to-order breakfasts are making your kids miss the bus, save them for the weekends when you have more time.

Do you have a slow-poke? Consider a timer. I’ve also been known to set the timer for my daughter when she dilly-dallies over her cereal bowl; when it dings she knows she has one minute to wrap things up and move on to the next task.

If you keep finding yourself running late, set the morning alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier to allow a little extra time…there’s no harm in arriving early. Only you know where to draw the line so set the limits for your kids and it will set them up for morning success!

Stressed out and rushed with the kids on school mornings? These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical for getting kids in back to school mode for stress-free school mornings! #School #BacktoSchool #Kids #Morning

 

 

5 Back to School Season Routines Moms Can Adopt for Themselves

I was on Pinterest last night and saw a Pin description that caught my eye. It said, “How Moms Can ROCK Back to School Season”.

Naturally the post was about lunch packing tips, best school supplies to purchase and streamlining the morning routine. Pinterest Mom rocks the school year by making sure things are smooth sailing for the kids and that the home routine is awesome. You know, cutely cut sandwiches in the lunch box. Crock Pot meals ready by 5. Adorably coordinated outfits and sweetly braided hair.

And of course, there’s the opposing player to the perfect rockin’ Pinterest-type mom. That’s the mom who doesn’t give a damn if her kid doesn’t have lunch with each food group represented. She’s just happy her kid remembered to bring his lunch box home and it wasn’t left at the lunch table. Dinner? You realize that we just had breakfast and you want me to think about dinner already? No cute outfits here because the teen refuses to wear anything you bought her at the back to school sales and hasn’t styled her hair since she was 10.

How are YOU Rockin’ Back to School Season

Okay, so extremes aside, I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle. You probably have a little bit of both mom-types in you. Maybe you’re awesome with the dinner planning. Or packing precious Bento box school lunches makes your creativity flag fly. I’ve written a post about streamlining the morning school routine myself. (I’ll freely admit that I’m rockin’ the morning routine. No late kids on my shift!)

How can moms REALLY rock back to school season? Here are a few ways I'm taking back "back to" season for myself!

But the post got me thinking, “How can moms really rock this season?” Sure, it’s back to school time for the kiddos. But this season shouldn’t focus on just the kids. How can moms go “back to school”? What can we learn? What can this season do for us? With the return of routine, this is the perfect opportunity to refresh and revise your own routines as well.

Or maybe it’s “back to” something else? Something that’s been lost along the years, while you were cutting bologna sandwiches into stars. Back to work? Back to the side hustle? Back to reading novels before bed? What is something you used to enjoy, something that you need to be doing, that stopped.

And so, on the eve of back to school day, I’m sharing a five ways I’m getting reading for this “back to” season. But first, getting prepped.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and placing an order helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Prepping for “Back to” Season with New School Supplies – Just for MOM!

When I picked up the kid’s school supplies, I picked up something for myself too. I bought a pretty, colorful binder, clear page protectors and good pens. I’m hiding it all in my desk so nobody will nab it (because all the good pens seem to disappear!)

I skipped the store and ordered directly from Target online. And really, any time I can shop online and not have to take all four hooligans into the store with me, the better! Plus Target price matched in store and gave me the lowest price automatically. I loved just being able to pick up my stocked bags at the front desk and be on my way.

How can moms REALLY rock back to school season? Here are a few ways I'm taking back "back to" season for myself!

I’ve found a few practical printables and added them to my folder. My “back to” season includes keeping better track of my ME time. Because if I don’t take care of myself, I’m not going to be any good for anyone else. What are 5 things you’ll dropped that you’d like to pick back up this season. Here are mine:

1. Back to an Exercise Routine

I’m not saying I didn’t exercise this summer, but I certainly tossed my routine out the window as soon as the kids were out of school. I have goals and this time next year, I plan to have smashed those goals. Honestly the only way I’m going to do that is with regular, challenging exercise. Writing things down and sticking to the routine is important. So while my teens will be running the track at school PE, I’ll be working out at the gym or at home during the baby’s nap time.

Shared from Printable Crush on Pinterest (click to Pin)

2. Back to a Bedtime Routine

Kids have their bedtime…and so should I! My husband has been working nights this summer, which has meant I’ve been staying up later than usual to work. 2:00 am is okay when I can sleep in a bit. But not so great when the school day alarm goes off at 6 am. I know that I feel better, am in a better mood and am more likely to eat healthy and exercise when I’m well rested. I need to get to bed no later than 11 pm (the dark circles under my eyes told me so).

3. Back to Budgeting (Time and Money)

While my kids are budgeting their time to complete projects, I’m doing the same. I find that I do much better with getting my “to-do” list done when I write it all out and check off things as they are completed.

We had some fun day trips this summer but now it’s time to tighten the purse strings. I have two kids with birthdays and of course the holiday season to look forward to this year. Time to revisit the budgeting plan and get serious about savings.

From Chasing Foxes on Pinterest (Click to Pin)

4. Back to Healthy Eating

A friend cut cheese out of her diet this year and her skin cleared up. I’ve been breaking out and wondering if dairy could be the issue? But then, “No pizza?! No nachos?!” Another friend eliminated carbs. Again, “No pizza?!” No nachos?!” Can you tell what I’ve been surviving on all summer?

I’m going to start my food diary. I’ve done this in the past, logging everything I eat. I’ve been able to see exactly where I’m going wrong (too many late afternoon snacks) and what foods are giving me trouble.

I’m also getting back in to meal planning. I hate that last minute scramble for dinner that usually means nachos! I want to make sure I’m feeding my family healthy and well-balanced meals. Meal planning and conscious grocery shopping will help.

Shared from I Heart Planners on Pinterest (Click to Pin)

5. Back to Quiet Time with Meditation and Prayer

10 minutes a day. That is seriously not that much time to etch out but I always seem to forget until right before I fall into bed, exhausted. I’m adding prayer to my calendar this season. It’s important. It’s necessary. And it keeps me on track for all the other things I’m working on.

What are 5 “back to” things you’d like to incorporate this season? Share, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How can moms REALLY rock back to school season? Here are a few ways I'm taking back "back to" season for myself!

Preparing Your Child for the First Day of Kindergarten

My 5 year old starts kindergarten in less than two weeks (cue Mom’s tears!) He’s crazy excited about school so that makes preparing him for kindergarten sort of easy. Not all kids are like that though – My eldest was terribly nervous and anxious about his first day of kindergarten. Getting kids ready to learn, choosing at-home school supplies and even cute photo ops can add to the excitement. Here are a few ways to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking the links and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. “Play” School at Home

If your child has never been to school before the entire concept may be daunting and confusing. Outline what will happen throughout the day. Describe terms they might not know like work study, arts and crafts, recess, lunch period, quiet time and free play. Role play can help kids know what to expect and ease the jitters.

Home workbooks like these can get your kinder kid prepared for what they might be seeing from their teacher during school. (BIG Kindergarten Workbook and Reading & Math Jumbo Workbook: Grade K)

   

2. Read Books Together

Story time is a big deal in kindergarten! And of course you already know that about 30 minutes of reading each night is ideal to develop reading skills in kids.

These are two favorite books I know about the first day of school. They are sure to put a smile on the face of your nervous kindergartner. These books are must-haves! (The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters)

   

3. Make Learning Fun

Teaching basics like letter recognition and how to properly hold a pencil will start kids off on the right foot. Supply your kindergartner with a few of these items to practice learning at home first. (Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Alphabet Activity Book and Gaobei Pencil Grip for Children)

4. Wait for a Supply List Before Making Big Purchases

I know that the kindergartners in my school district don’t use backpacks. Kids carry open-topped buckets to hold their over-sized paperwork. So I won’t be making a backpack purchase for my kindergartner this year.

That’s my son on the left with his LL Bean backpack in 3rd grade. He’s still using it in 8th grade!

However if you do need a backpack, I highly recommend L.L.Bean. I bought my eldest son his backpack from L.L.Bean when he entered 3rd grade. He’s starting 8th grade this year…with the same backpack! And it’s still in great condition (no wear, no tears and the zippers work perfectly).

LL Bean Backpack (same one I bought my son 5 years ago!)

Before you run out and stock up on pencils and crayons, wait for a supply list from your child’s teacher. Or consider buying a few small items to have at home to get your child in the “back to school mood”.


5. Teach and Practice Basic Manners at Home

“Please” and “Thank You” goes a long way. So does sharing, friendship and being a good friend. Practice with gentle reminders at home. A few good books can help to reinforce what you’re teaching. (365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette and Say Please, Little Owlet)

   

6. Pick Out a Special First Day Outfit

My kids love having something special to wear on the first day of school. And I always shop Gymboree because the quality and pricing is fantastic. The clothes are durable and so cute too (perfect for picture day!)

At prices like these, you can easily stock up for the entire first month of school! (PS: These are all images of clothing that I’ve recently purchased for my own kids!)

If you’ve never ordered before, here’s a special link that will get you 25% OFF Gymboree with your first order!

Make the First Day Special

Now that you’ve taken care of preparing your kindergartner for the first day of school, here are a few more ideas to help make the first day really special!

7. Plan a Fun First Day Breakfast

Put away the cold cereal for the first day and give the kids something fun and filling! A Mickey waffle would surely put a smile on their face for back-to-school. And Amazon even sells Golden Malted waffle mix, the same kind used in the Disney parks! (Disney Classic Mickey Waffle Maker and Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour)

8. The Obligatory First Day of School Photo

I love the idea of taking first day of school photos in the same place each year, just to compare growth from year to year. I try to pose my kids against the cute white fence at my mom’s house each year. From left to right, this is my son at kindergarten, first, third, fourth and fifth grade.

      

Another sweet memory is capturing your kindergartner exploring their classroom for the first time. I grabbed this shot when my eldest son sat down to look at picture books in his new class.

9. Write Down First Day Thoughts in a School Memory Book

You’ll look back fondly on these sweet memories! Having a dedicated school memory book keeps cute memories, photos and special awards and photos in one spot. My 13 year old son has the book mentioned here. I love looking back at it on the first day of school each year, remembering that adorable kid with missing front teeth! (School Years: A Family Keepsake of School Memories)


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


These practical back-to-school preparation tips will help ease your kinder kid into the first day of kindergarten.

Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Back to school shopping. Kids get so excited about the new stuff. And parents everywhere cringe and worry about the cost! With four kids to clothe (ages 2 to 14 years), I know the stress of shopping for kid’s clothes. But I’ve gathered up some great ideas and hacks along the way that help me stick to my budget. Check out my 7 budget tips and back to school clothing hacks.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

Back to School Clothing

#1: Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Seriously, your child doesn’t need an entirely new wardrobe unless they grew 5″ over summer and have nothing to wear except pajamas. Pick and choose the pieces that are must-have.

#2: Give the kids a choice. Let them have some input on what they’d like to wear. This really helps minimize stressful mornings when anxiety about school kicks in. Getting dressed and feeling awkward has a lot to do with that stress.

#3: Aim for comfort. However you don’t have to sacrifice cute! I’ve been purchasing from Gymboree for 14 years. I love the coordinating lines, how easy the clothing washes up and of course, how adorable my kids look in them.

Keep reading for my back to school clothing hacks and budgeting tips for shopping!

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

1. Give Them No Reason to Say, “I Have Nothing to Wear!”

Before you hear those words, go through the closets and dressers piece by piece. Have your child try things on to verify fit. Too small? Have a donation box handy. Not in season? Put it in a storage bin under the bed for later. Once you have cleared out the old, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to purchase.

Pre-Shopping Tip: There always seems to be that one piece of clothing that doesn’t match anything. My daughter had the cutest patterned pair of pants but she never wore them because she didn’t have a top that matched the colors. Decide whether you’ll let that piece go or try and find the coordinating item to wear with it.

2. Layer Summer over Winter

What’s in the closet that can continue to be worn, even in the chillier months? My daughter had the cutest chambray jumper dress from Gymboree that she wore all-year round. When weather was warm she wore the dress alone. When weather was cool, she wore it over a turtleneck and leggings.

For boys, lightweight button-up shirts can be layered over long pants and long sleeved tees.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Look in the closet and see what items can be layered during the winter. Keep that tip in mind when purchasing new items.

3. Prep the Night Before

To ease the morning-of-school stress, make it a habit to prep as much as possible the night before. This means getting backpack and homework organized and placing shoes (with socks!) by the front door.

I choose my outfit the day before and encourage my kids to do the same. This way they can decide what they want to wear with a little more time.  And they’re fresh and ready to get dressed in the morning!

Pre-Shopping Tip: Does your preschooler still struggle with getting himself dressed? If buttons and zippers are slowing him down, purchase easy, quick-on clothing styles like rib-neck tees and elastic waist pants.

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

4. Stock Up on Layering Pieces

Long sleeved tees and turtlenecks that can be worn under coordinating shirts or sweaters can really extend the wardrobe. Cardigans, fleece hoodies and pullover sweaters are nice to layer over tees or button-up shirts.

For girls, leggings are perfect for layering under skirts and dresses when the weather is cool. Consider capri length for fall, full length and fuzzy lined for winter.

Pre-Shopping Tip: In the case of layering tees, I like to choose classic colors that coordinate with many other items in the closet. Think navy blue, white and black for the best versatility.

Gymboree Long Sleeved Tee

5. Choose Practical Shoes That Go with Everything

Have only a few styles of shoes in colors that coordinate with many different outfits. I recommend altering days to allow shoes to dry and air-out inside (helping to eliminate odors).

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you’re trying to expedite the morning routine, choose easy-on styles like slip on shoes or Velcro instead of laces.

Gymboree Mesh Sneakers

6. Shop Out of Season

This is one of my tried and true budget shopping tips. Shop NOW for next year! When I see that clothes are up to 70% off at Gymboree, I jump on that sale! I’ll purchase items for my kids, knowing that I’ll be putting them away for another season.

I recently purchased shorts in a few sizes larger for my toddler to wear next summer. They were $5.59 (already a fantastic price!). But when I paired that with my Gymbucks redemption, the cost went down to $2.80 and you CAN’T beat that kind of bargain!

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you want to buy ahead but aren’t sure what size your child would be, consider the style first. Opt for elastic or drawstring waist shorts and pants,  or loose dresses instead of form-fitting or “skinny” styles.

7. Don’t Need Full Outfits? Just Add Accessories!

One of my favorite ways to jazz up an “old” outfit is by adding cool new accessories. A fun pair of tights, belt, purse, coordinating socks or a hair accessory adds just a bit of spark to an outfit on a budget.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Don’t forget the underwear! I have to remind my older kids to let me know when their underpants are getting too small so I can reorder new ones! We’ve always purchased Gymboree because the elastic holds up so well and the designs don’t fade.

 

 

DIY Disney Memento Storage Box

Seems that after each of our Disney vacations we come home with small mementos of our trip that I just don’t know what to do with! I love to save things like celebration buttons, paper Disneyland tickets, MagicBands from Disney World and maps. My kids enjoy going through these things and remembering our tips. I don’t want to toss them out but I just didn’t have a dedicated place to keep them. Enter this quick and inexpensive DIY Disney memento box that kids can help you create!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

DIY Disney Memento Box

This DIY will show you  how to take an ordinary cardboard box and turn it into a personalized Disney-style storage box that’s perfect for safekeeping all your small Disney vacation treasures! I personally have Disneyland tickets from when I was a little girl and wanted to make sure that my kids have their own Disney treasures kept safe as well.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Totally easy and you just need a few craft supplies that you probably already have on hand! Read on for the how-to!

SUPPLIES:

  • Cardboard box with a lid. I used one with a hinged lid.
  • Scrapbook paper or wrapping paper
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Photographs
  • Ribbons, Washi tape, scrapbooking die-cuts, stickers, etc.
  • Clear packing tape
  • Scissors


Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Making Your DIY Disney Memento Box

  1. If your box is being recycled, remove all stickers or excess tape from the box until the surfaces are smooth.

2. Lay each side of the box on the wrong side of the paper and outline the shape.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

3. Cut the paper on the line. Add a light amount of glue to the wrong side and place the paper to the box, smoothing out any bumps or creases.

4. Decorate the top of your box with photographs, strips of ribbon or decorative Washi tape and stickers until you have a design you’re happy with. When decorating the lid, it’s okay to wrap things like ribbon and tape around the edges to the inside of the lid. I had a smooth black washi tape and a white Sharpie so I could personalize my box.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box

5. Carefully apply clear packing tape in strips across the top of your box, going horizontally. I made my tape about a half inch longer on each side so I could wrap around the edges. Try not to overlap the pieces of tape too much, butting them against each other for a smooth finish. Work carefully because once you stick the tape you won’t be able to remove it. I had 3-D stickers so I applied them after this last step.Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

Looking for More Disney-Themed Crafts?

Filling Up Your DIY Disney Souvenir Box

Hot-diggety-dog! You have a perfect Disney-inspired box for storing all your magical mementos. Your box is now a great place to store Disney mementos like maps, tickets and souvenir buttons.

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box

READ MORE: Disney Souvenirs To Buy BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

For more Disney inspired back to school ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Back to School | Disney Inspired Ideas Loop:

Craft your own DIY Disney memento box to store small treasures from your Disneyland and Disney World family vacations! #Disney #Craft #DisneyCraft #DIY #DisneyDIY #Souvenir #Keepsakes #Mementos