These Are Five Of My Favourite Things…

*Back To School Edition*

One of the best gifts we can give one another is recommendations for things that make our lives easier. I have decided to compile a list of things that have helped me, in a variety of categories. There are things that I have found that are tried and true, and things that I wish I would have found sooner. With school around the corner, a back-to-school edition was fitting for my first list. With the lazy summer days behind us, back-to-school time can be a bit precarious. Think of this like Oprah’s favourite things episode, just the LifeLoveMom edition! Hopefully one or more of these suggestions makes the time a little easier. It is a bit of a medley of items and ideas, but I wanted to ensure that I covered all the bases. I want to add that these items are not sponsored. This is just some good, old-fashioned word of mouth.

NUMBER 1: School lunches can be HARD! My kids have never been into sandwiches or traditional lunches. So I have found bento boxes to be my saving grace. I know there are so many brands out there…. I personally love the YumBox because I can buy extra trays in case one has to soak or make a run through the dishwasher. I also love how durable they are. My daughter has had the same one for 5 years!

I much prefer making lunches the night before, so sometimes I pack the tray and cover it with saran wrap so I can let the case air out overnight. You can find them almost anywhere, but I find that Chapters has the best prices. Here is a link in case you need one.

NUMBER 2: As much as moms feel we can do it all, we can’t. I have found chore charts have been a lifesaver. Giving kids age-appropriate chores to help around the house is a great way to share ownership and instil responsibility. They don’t have to be large, onerous tasks. It also helps to give kids something to do when everyone gets home, so you will have at least a few minutes before the epic chaos ensues. Some examples are that J helps to set the table, empty the dishwasher, make her bed, and practices her piano. Since N is younger, he empties his lunch box, puts his laundry away, and feeds the dog. I love this chart from Amazon. It sticks right to the fridge and the kids are obsessed with the dry erase markers!

NUMBER 3: Covid has completely changed the landscape of school. I never thought I would have to stock up on masks in addition to everything else. But, alas, here we are. I adore these pouches that my sister makes. Her company, EandR Creatives has the cutest Etsy page. They make the organization of clean/dirty masks so much easier. The kids love that they are personalized just for them! There are tons of other personalized items, but I am linking the mask pouch here.

NUMBER 4: This isn’t a product, but more of a strategy. Meal planning is my jam. If you know me, you know how sacred my weekly meal plan is. I swear by shopping once a week, and making it last. One the weekend, we typically eat out for one dinner, but during the week I don’t have time to think about what I’m going to make. So meal planning is so important. You don’t need fancy apps or templates to do this. I usually make a list on my phone. I plan out what is happening in the week, and who is eating when. Then I make a list of meals, and ingredients I will need (after looking in my fridge and pantry to see what we already have). I add drinks, lunch box items, and any paper goods we might need. Then I can confidently shop for the week. For those of you who don’t have time to grocery shop, I am loving Voila by Sobeys. You can make a list right on the site, and it tracks your favourite items. I have a code for new customers who want to save $25. Just click here

NUMBER 5: The art of conversation… How was your day is probably the vaguest question we can ask our kids. This is why it is typically met with a “meh”, “okay” or a silent shrug. Many parents would liken finding out what happened during the school day to pulling teeth. When J started school, Hubby and I decided that we would reframe the question into more specific prompts. I am including a list of examples here:

  • Who made you smile today?
  • Who was one friend you played with today?
  • Who did you help today?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?
  • What is one new thing you learned today?
  • What was your least favourite part of the day?
  • Was anyone sad today?
  • Which was your favourite subject today?
  • Did you enjoy your lunch?
  • What is one thing you are proud of today?
  • What was the most special part of today?
  • What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Asking questions like these is not foolproof. We do get the silent nods and shrugs, or the “idunno”s. But they do tend to elicit conversation faster than general questions.

Back-to-school time can be super stressful. Here’s hoping these suggestions can make it just a little bit easier. If you have any suggestions, tips or tricks for back-to-school time, I’d love to hear them! Leave them in the comments for others to read and share. After all, we are all in this together.

This is life. Love, Mom.

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