Every fall, back to school signals a return to routine. After several weeks of casual bliss, both kids and parents need to get back to a strict schedule. Whether you’re a parent who works outside the home or a stay-at-home parent, getting the kids ready and off to school in a timely manner can be stressful. Having things ready for them when they get home at the end of the day can be equally as frustrating.
In most homes a lot of the action, both before school and after, takes place in the kitchen. Packing lunches, grabbing snacks, and sitting down to do homework are activities that often occur in the kitchen area. As such, having the kitchen organized for these daily occurrences can go a long way in reducing the back to school frenzy. Read on to discover some tips for prepping your kitchen space for the school routine.
Clear the Way
Those carefree days of summer are relaxing, but they can lead to a lot of chaos as stuff gets tossed aside and quickly piles up in all areas of the home. Once school is back in swing there is little time to re-organize, so take a few hours ahead of time to get the kitchen in order. Get the kids to help out, too. Organize pantry and food shelves and take stock of what you have and what you need to buy.
Check out what you have for containers and make a list of anything you need for packing lunches. If you need to pick up new containers, consider color-coding your kids’ lunchboxes and food storage containers. Assign a different color to each child, then find a lunch bag to match. This way, they’ll never accidentally reach for the wrong one. Note: this is especially helpful in households where food allergies are present.
Set Up DIY Food Stations
If you have the space for it, setting up spots where kids can prep some of their own snacks and meals is a great idea. It will save you time and it gives kids a boost of confidence. Make space on a low pantry shelf, kitchen cabinet, or an area of the fridge to keep quick-grab snack options. You can use clear storage bins to keep items organized in each area. As long as all your children can reach the snacks, they can help themselves to an after-school snack without having to ask you for help.
Stock fridge bins with healthy options such as fruit, cut-up veggies, yogurt tubes/cups, and cheese sticks. If your kids are old enough to get their own breakfast without making too much of a mess, consider putting supplies down low so they can reach them. Keep a lower cupboard filled with kid-friendly cups, plates, and cutlery. A low pantry shelf can also act as a snack station. Fill it with granola bars, single serve bags of trail mix, fruit cups, and juice boxes.
Designate a Homework Area
No matter how hard you try, the kitchen often ends up being the unofficial homework area. To help keep kids on task, clear a special spot specifically for homework. If this isn’t possible, try to add storage bins or wall pockets so that items can be easily tucked away when it’s time to do homework.
Add a Board
Communication between family members is important to keeping a household running smoothly. Unfortunately, details get missed when family members are running off in all different directions. Adding some sort of erasable surface in the kitchen helps gets the messages through. Hang a whiteboard or chalkboard on a cabinet or paint a chalkboard wall or section of wall. This way, family members can write down important events, grocery lists, and other pressing information.
The switch from summertime fun to school routine is significant, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Putting in a little prep time ahead of back to school season can greatly reduce the stress. It may even create some excitement about getting back to routine.