Friday, September 7, 2018

Back to school

This post is sponsored by Sparkling ICE but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Happy back to school season, mamas! If you read my last post you know I'm a little bit surprised to find myself celebrating the kids' return to school again this fall, what with our previous plans being that we were going to homeschool this year. But as I said, plans change. I'm thrilled for them and the friends I know they will make this year in their new schools. And honestly, after these last couple of quiet days home with just a two year old and with three out of four kids being away during the day, I'm also thrilled for me too! I think we all needed this, and back to school season is definitely a happy occasion this year for sure! 

So what now? Now we adjust and get back into the swing of things. That is, finding balance and falling into our new normal- the after school routine. We've got three kids in three different schools, all with different start and end times. One child walks, one rides the bus, and another has to be dropped off and picked up. It's a lot to keep straight! Routine is key for us.

Snacks and homework
First things first, rehydrate and refuel. After putting away backpacks, taking off shoes, and stopping at the sink to wash hands, the next stop is always the fridge and the pantry. Snacks need to be healthy ones so they're not constantly popping into the kitchen to rummage every 10 minutes. Fresh fruit, protein, and complex carbs are always plentiful in my kitchen. Things like cookies and chips find their way into the house too, but I try to limit them. My kids know if they reach for the junk that it has to be paired with something healthy. Grabbing some cookies? You better take a banana too. 

Each child has a water bottle that I'm constantly nagging reminding them to keep filled during the day to ward off dehydration which can make them feel like they want to snack (when really all they need is to hydrate). I usually keep some Sparkling ICE in the fridge for when they want something besides water after school. I don't usually buy fruit juice or soda, which is just loaded with sugar and all kinds of things they don't need to fill up on. Sparkling ICE is a great alternative- it's got zero sugar and zero calories, comes in 16 flavors, and is made with vitamins, antioxidants, and naturally occurring colors. They're surprisingly flavorful and my kids love them! (Plus, you can even Amazon them!) 

Playtime with younger siblings
After they've snacked and homework is done it's time to play. I try to send the older kids outside (weather permitting) or downstairs with the toddlers so I can get dinner taken care of in relative peace. The little ones get a chance to bond with their big siblings (they miss them so much during the day) and the big ones keep an eye on them for me while I'm in the kitchen. Bonus points if I can get them to do some physical activity all together. We just got a trampoline for the backyard, so that's been a family favorite as of lately. Bounce all of that energy out! 



Dinner as a family
Dinner together is a big one for me. I'm a firm believer in the whole family gathering around the table sharing a meal together and talking about their day. It doesn't always end up being as picture perfect as it sounds (cue the grumpy toddler climbing out of the highchair and milk spilling all over the table), but we're all there at the end of the day and that's what matters. 

Pre-morning prep
I like to make mornings as easy as possible by planning ahead and doing as much as we can the night before. The kids shower at night and lay out their clothes and shoes for the next day. They clean out their backpacks and make sure they can just grab them and go in the morning. If they want to bring a lunch it also gets packed the night before so there's less thinking involved in the morning. Just grab and go! That's the key. I don't want to do any serious thinking that early. (Pssst- Sparkling ICE makes a great lunchbox drink!) 

Read each night
Before bedtime we always read for at least 20 minutes. I don't really care what they read as long as they are doing it and are flexing those brain muscles. Learning to read for enjoyment is such a great skill for kids to develop, and my kids know that at bedtime it's no screens and time to read- every night! 

The days seem to just whiz right by once school starts, which is why a good after school routine is so important for us. What am I leaving out? Is there anything else you can think of to make it easier? I'm always looking for tips to simplify! 

I hope the back to school season has been good to you! Cheers, mamas! 

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