This year, in an attempt to slow that tempo down just a bit (think less salsa and more cha-cha), I have stumbled upon a few key organizational tools and tips to help me put his into practice.
For starters, lunches made in the hustle of the morning make for a stressful start when you're trying to corral everyone out of the door on time. To cut the chaos, I picked up a few plastic organizer bins from Target and organized the fridge and the pantry. I opened up all of our boxes or bags and now have readily available single serving sized options for quick lunch assembly or after school snacking. This is how it breaks down:
Bin 1: Lunch sized chip bags. We usually buy the big variety super pack, so I just unloaded everything into one bin to make it a quick grab.
Bin 2: Single serving fruit cups. We get a variety of these, including pineapple chunks, peaches, tropical fruit mix, etc. I just opened all of those packs up and put them in one bin. It sure beats having 5 stacks of those 4-pack containers!
Bin 3: Protein bars, single serving peanut butter, goldfish (I bought a large container of these and just divvied it out into single servings by using snack size Ziploc bags), Lance peanut butter cracker snack packs (4 per pack/individually sealed).
Bin 4: Single serving boxed raisins, banana chips, trail mix (also divvied out into snack bags), sunflower seeds, and dehydrated fruit. I bought large containers of everything but the raisins and just divvied each out into single serving sized snacks with my Ziploc snack bags.
Bin 5: Breakfast bars and Poptarts (don't judge). We have a large flip top canister next to this bin that holds all of our instant oatmeal packets. This was a much tidier and space saving option!
We also have a large bin on the floor of the pantry that holds all of our bottled water so that it's within easy reach of everyone for adding to their lunch or when packing for after school activities.
Bin 1: Single serving cheese sticks (mozzarella string cheese, colby jack and cheddar sticks, Danimals smoothies and go-tubes of yogurt.
Bin 2: Grapes and baby carrots (washed up and packed as single serving snacks in the Ziploc snack bags).
Bin 3: Chicken salad mini crescent sandwiches and turkey with cheese sandwich wraps. I prepped these all on Sunday and placed two mini crescent sandwiches or two wrap halves into Ziploc sandwich sized bags. This makes for a quick and easy lunch assembly! NOTE: I did not add tomato to the crescent sandwiches to keep them from getting too soggy. Also, I did not add any dressing to the turkey wraps. Instead, I spread some whipped cream cheese on the wrap, sprinkled on a little seasoning, then added the turkey and cheese, rolled it up and sliced that sucker in two. On a few, I added baby spinach (for Zack).
Bin 4: Breakfast bites and sandwiches. The breakfast bites are egg whites with mozz cheese, spinach, salsa and a teensy bit of chicken sausage sprinkled in and then baked in muffin cups. They're perfectly sized and are a big hit! I wrapped them in aluminum foil packets (2 bites per packet) and placed them in the bin in the fridge. In the mornings, they're ready to be opened up, placed on a plate (after discarding the foil, of course) and warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds. A hot and tasty breakfast that's perfect for on the go!
One is Cozi (available on iTunes Google Play Kindle FireWindows Store). Love this app! It's free, and it's a super easy and modern way to stay in sync with all appts, events, and important dates scheduled for each person in the family. I created a family acct, added members, assigned each of us a color, and added our dates.
Because each member of the fam gets assigned their own username, everyone can sign in and update events or appts or set reminders. It even has a separate tab for keeping a running grocery list, chore or to-do list that any of us can add to or update.
The other app I'm loving is Remind. Your teachers have to be signed up for it, but I'm finding many already are (and those that aren't could be perhaps persuaded). With this app, you get direct communication on homework assignments, projects and quizzes so that you're always in the loop. Ha! No more of that last minute "uhh...I forgot I have a project due tomorrow" midnight store run.
We'll see if all of this organization gives us a mid-tempo beat we can work with...and dance to. With ease.