I’m about to head into my sixth school year as a parent, and I’m experiencing that familiar sense of optimism and hope that accompanies this time of year. The belief that this year will be different, this will be the year that no permission slip goes missing, there is no morning scramble for missing shoes, and the year that a healthy, home-cooked meal is enjoyed and happily anticipated by all.
I’ll get over it; by October (…okay, mid-November–this is, after all, the season of optimism!) I will have abandoned my pleas to get my kids on board with my organization schemes, I’ll resort to the crowd-pleasing standby of chicken nuggets at least once a week, and I’ll be trying to convince at least one child that mis-matched socks are quirky and fun, rather than a tell-tale sign of an overdue laundry day.
While my optimism lasts, I have started thinking about the sticking points that make the school year trying, for both parents and kids. The incredible popularity of this teacher’s note about not assigning homework that went viral last week is a testament to the stress and drama that play out nightly in homes across the country. My kids aren’t even old enough to have long-term projects and work that can be procrastinated on, and we’ve already had a taste of the angst that accompanies nightly assignments. Then there are the endless newsletters, both hard copy and emailed, which bring about the to-do lists, save-the-dates, and calls for volunteers. Every afternoon’s back-pack emptying (if it gets
done at all…) leaves my kitchen table littered with stacks of paper. Especially once the days grow shorter and the calendar gets more packed with activities, keeping up with it all starts to feel a little overwhelming.
By this point in my career as a parent of school-age children, I’ve learned that the best way (or at least, an adequate way) to get on top of clutter and chaos is to plan for it, and corral it as soon as it comes in the door. Here are a few titles that we have here, that may help with getting a handle on your schedule and your stuff:
Secrets of an Organized Mom
CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!
Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier
How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most
Cut the Clutter and Stow the Stuff
Conquer the Clutter: Reclaim Your Space, Reclaim Your Life
On top of the scheduling and the homework and the daunting task of keeping an all-white karate gi acceptably clean for twice-a-week practice, there is the need to keep these kids fed. No, I didn’t neglect to feed them while they were out of school. But with summer comes a more laid-back approach. Doritos with lunch? Sure, it’s summer! Hot dogs for dinner? It’s so nice out, of course we should be grilling!
The predictability and routine of the school year calls for a more sober approach to meal times, and a return to the cookbooks and Pinterest boards for ideas for how to bring a nightly meal to the table that will please all, come together quickly, and within a budget. Frequent use of a Crock-Pot and a good plan for meal prep on the weekends goes a long way. Here are a few cookbooks that you can find on our shelves that are geared toward school-year lunch and dinner challenges:
Beating the Lunch Box Blues
Faster! I’m Starving
Fix-It and Forget-It New Cookbook: 250 New Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes
Week In a Day: Five Dishes, One Day
Yum-o! The Family Cookbook
Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make Mealtime Easy