Back to School Tips for the Busy Family!
School is rapidly approaching, which means I need to start getting back into gear. Back to school season is always super busy for us. Sports, school, homework, and family time all seem to compete for each other. To make everyone’s lives easier, I work hard to keep things simple, where I can. For the busy families out there, these back to school tips are for you.
1. Use local conveniences like truLOCAL
One thing I noticed that takes up a lot of my time is the many trips I make to the grocery store every week. I discovered that all those small trips I was making throughout the week added up to a large amount of time. We mostly need to run to the store to get more meat mid-week because, well, we love our meat. We often run out and that means I need to drive to the store and pick up more for the rest of the week.
Plus, I believe that back to school season means we should keep our diet as healthy as possible. That means cooking exclusively at home and skipping take-out. Which leads me to consider numerous local and natural health options to keep our diet on track.
It is a meat-delivery subscription service that is based in Ontario. They provide high-end meat that does not have any antibiotics or hormones added.
truLOCAL is the perfect service for the busy family. You get to shop local and clean locally sourced meat is delivered right to your front door. They have a variety of products that will make your life that much easier.
They offer two different sized boxes, a small and a regular, and they can each be customized with what types of meat that you want in it.
The small box will hold up to eighteen individual portions, while the regular box will hold up to forty individual portions.
You can choose from different cuts of steaks, fish, different cuts of chicken, multiple types of sausage, pork, bacon, beef, lamb, buffalo, and elk. They arrive in a styrofoam cooler with dry ice, so they arrive frozen. You can set aside what you will cook right away to defrost in the fridge and put away the rest in the freezer.
It’s that simple.
You can customize each box with a click of a button and it’s awesome that I have the choice to order the same meat for the next box or switch it up with something new.
Once I go on and place my order, I then decide what I want to make with the meat for each meal and create a shopping list. I go to the store one time, pick up what I need for my meals for the week, and head home to relax and have fun with my family.
I chose filet mignon, buffalo burgers, chicken burgers, ground turkey, chicken thighs, and breasts. Also, if you order on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before 5, everything will be delivered the next day anywhere in Ontario. How awesome is that?
I think it’s safe to say that truLOCAL has taken away the stress of meat shopping. They have also made my life easier because I don’t need one more thing to worry about during the school year. I can stock up and just hit up my freezer, not the store.
If you’re wondering how it tastes? Well, one word. DELICIOUS. You can definitely taste the freshness and since they come individually wrapped, it makes it easier to portion control. That’s one of the best parts besides the juiciness and flavour!
2. Start the new schedule now
I don’t think there is anything quite more abrupt than starting a schedule right away. Take your time easing into your new back to school schedule. I try to get the kids started on their new schedule at least two weeks before school starts. That way they have a head start at early mornings and a semblance of their usual back to school schedules.
3. Stay in Sync
One of the keys to success in family organization is communication. Having all the vital and important information in one place can do wonders for efficiency. That’s why a central hub or board for families are so popular. For us, since we are all iPhone users, we use a digital calendar to add special information, events, and appointments and it shoots out a notification to all of us. We even set it up to remind us closer to the dates. It also lets us respond or send messages to each other and helps us stay in sync. A good idea is to add the school’s calendar events to your calendar too.
4. Take short cuts where possible
Listen, taking shortcuts doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a smart one. Do some batch cooking on the weekends, so you can be saner during the week. Create a carpool with other parents, so you’re not literally running on fumes. Create a budget, so your finances stay running smooth. These “short cuts” will help you keep your sanity through back to school season and beyond.
5. Make a Meal Plan
Before you head to the market, make sure you’ve mapped out the meals you will be eating for the week. Grab a binder, print out your favourite recipes and collect them as you try them. Rotate as much as you can. Try to choose meals that use common ingredients so they can go a long way and not be wasted. Start with a simple meal for the first day of the week. Prepare meals that will leave you with leftovers, this makes lunch prep easier! Once you have this down, you just need to repeat it next week. I don’t even need to worry about the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question from my family or myself every night because I know what we are going to have.
6. Adopt Sunday Night Meal Prep
I know that I mentioned batch cooking above but, if you’re like me and are on a never-ending quest to get healthy or if you are trying to maintain, that often means different meals than the kids. While we usually tend to eat the same types of food, meat and veggies and long-lasting starches can get boring for kids. So, while we don’t indulge in the pasta, pizzas and more, Darasak and I meal prep. This is where truLOCAL came in handy with individual packaging. It helps us stay in check and not over cook.
We usually cook steak, chicken, and fish with either rice, potato or sweet potato and lots of veggies. We put them in individual containers and have them in the fridge to grab and go. No excuses on eating better. For the kids, we pack their lunches on Sundays too. Prepare snacks they can grab like cut veggies and fruits, cheese, yogurts, hummus or guac packages. Giving them choices also encourages them to eat what they choose.
We like to make breakfast options too, like muffins or egg and ham muffins, hard boiled eggs, and any meat and potato lunches they want to take for the week on Sunday. It makes life so much easier when you have an organized fridge stocked with ready to eat food.
7. Do Night Time Prep
For some reason, my family does much better when we prep at night. We’re not the best morning people, so trying to get things around in the morning can be a true nightmare. By doing prep at night, I can keep my household running smoothly. Packing lunches, laying out clothes, and putting important paperwork in backpacks are all ways we can prep our stuff at night.
If you want to be a bit more pro-active you can do what we do. We have hanging organizers with different compartments in the girls’ closet. We’ve labeled them Monday-Friday and on Sunday night, they will pick out their outfits for the week and place them in the designated compartment. Boom! They’re ready for the school week!
8. Pick a Designated Homework Zone
Choose a spot in the house that is quiet and away from distractions and set-up a spot where the kids can get their homework done. We have desks in both of the girls’ rooms that are stocked with pens, pencils, markers, crayons and pencil crayons, scissors etc. This way, they are ready to take on assignments and have a quiet place to get it done.
9. Keep Up the Fun!
I know that the carefree summer days are coming to an end but, that doesn’t mean that the fun has to stop on weekends or on homework-free nights. Plan fun activities to do with your family as usual. This helps kids to take a break from a regimented schedule and lets them just be kids. Plus, I’m sure you need the break too!
Time to Slay All Year!
One of the best ways to make life easier is getting your meals planned, meal prep and using a service like truLOCAL to keep you stocked up.
For more information, visit truLOCAL and plan out your box. Believe me, you’ll love the ease of it and fewer trips to the store. Even Maverick loves them!
I find that I am more efficient when I have a plan and hopefully these back to school tips can help you find yours. Even if it’s a small change, it can make a big difference!
Do you have any back to school tips for busy families?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela, and wife to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.