We’ve made some great progress. It took a little while to iron out the wrinkles and get my bearings. I purchased some new curriculum, spent every waking moment for a month reading about homeschooling, and generally put family stuff as top priority. You should have seen my inbox! I ignored everything until I knew we were on a better track.
(And it felt really good to make sure that my day job got the best of me.)
One of the best things I’ve figured out was that I’m not very good at multi-tasking during the school day. If I try to do anything else, I’m liable to get distracted (at best) or completely derailed (at worst). So I developed a time budget for our school days that is really helping me feel a little more on top of my game.
I’ve got a set block of time in each day devoted to each child. It’s a wonderful time for me to reconnect with each of these sweet people without distractions. And the days are flowing so much more smoothly! Everyone is productive and feeling good about their accomplishments.
One of the things that seems to come up every single day, however, the one thing that has the potential to derail our days is, well, that thing about eating. Ya just gotta eat, dontcha?
Now, as a food blogger, you’d think that I’d be all over this eating and cooking thing. And I am. But, at the same time, I’ve realized that to put my family and our school first, sometimes that means I need to be out of the kitchen. In fact, if I start getting all creative and start cooking up a storm, well, I might not come out for hours on end.
So, big cooking sessions are relegated to nights and weekends, while school day meals have become more simplified. Here’s how:
1. Provide a breakfast bar.
The mornings that go the smoothest are those when I’ve laid out a breakfast bar. Typically this might include bread, bagels, or crumpets for toasting, fresh fruit, applesauce, yogurt, baked goods, juice, milk, and homemade granola. These are mostly non-perishable items that I can set out in the morning and as my kids start rolling into the kitchen at staggered times, each of them can prepare his own breakfast. I keep the cold stuff in the fridge until needed, but everything else is readily available. About once a week I make eggs or some other hot breakfast item.
Overall, the breakfast bar allows for a variety of tastes as well as a fluctuation in wake-up times.
2. Include a snack time.
It seems that kids (and moms) really do need a nutrition break mid-morning. Despite my best efforts to serve a big breakfast, inevitably tummies start to rumble around 10 am and we all need a “second breakfast.” Since every minute of my day is pretty much spoken for, one of my older boys has graciously agreed to prepare a snack for everyone each day.
Easy food items like popcorn, dried fruit, fruit leather, fruit slices, cheese slices, and sunbutter crackers, are all things that he can very easily pull together without a lot of help from me. And he enjoys doing it!
3. Get help at lunch, too.
Last year we prepacked out lunches each night, and the kids really enjoyed that. However, for some reason, this year I just don’t have the space in the fridge for six lunch boxes. Instead, I enlist the aid of my other older son to prepare lunch. He enjoys having a voice in the menu planning and doesn’t mind kitchen patrol.
Again, we use easy meal ideas like sandwiches, pasta salad, “snacky lunch” and leftovers to get us through the midday.
4. Don’t forget tea time.
Right about the time that our little one heads to her nap, the rest of us are ready for a little pick-me-up. That’s the perfect time to brew mom a cuppa as well as pour out hot chocolate or milk for the kids. And a little sweet goes pretty well with the afternoon math lesson, if I do say so myself.
Once our afternoon routine is through, we’re ready to tidy up and disperse until dinnertime. But, with a few simple tricks, I know that my kids have had good nourishing meals throughout the day that haven’t got in the way of other activities we might be pursuing.
How do you handle school meals?