By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt
Fall is my favorite season, not just because of the crisp, cooler air, the apple festivals and the pumpkin patches, but because the fall always seems like a great chance to start anew. Children start back to school and new activities begin. I always use this season as an opportunity to create new schedules, re-evaluate current commitments and priorities, create new routines, purge old clothing and toys, and find other ways to continue pursuing a more simplified and less-chaotic life.
I love learning of new ideas to help save time and money, to lead a more stream-lined life, and to live more peacefully and simply. Here are some tips and tricks that myself and my friends collected, that we either currently incorporate into our lives or that we hope to try this fall. I hope that some of these ideas could be of benefit to you and your family:
- Download the Wunderlist app to your phone, to keep track of wants and needs as they arise, as well as grocery lists (the lists can be kept private or shared with others.)
- Purchase a 1″ binder notebook, sheet protectors, and divider tabs for each of your children. Have a section for school as well as for each of their extra-curricular activities, and add schedules, forms, and paperwork to the binder throughout the year for easy reference.
- Schedule your children’s medical and dentist appointments at the start of the school year, around the school calendar (on their days off from school.)
- The start of the school year is a great time to update emergency contacts and to replenish first aid kits in the home and vehicles.
- To make school mornings run smoothly, either purchase a hanging shelf or designate a specific area of each child’s closet for weekly school outfits. Every Sunday, pick out clothing for each day of the week, store it or hang it in the designated area, and have it ready to go in the mornings.
- Pack lunches the night before, or have pre-packed sandwiches, meals, and snacks available in clear cubbies in the fridge for quick-grabbing in the mornings. Utilize Bento-style lunch boxes to better organize lunches as well as minimize plastic waste.
- Prepare easy make-ahead breakfasts, like low-carb egg cups: grease a muffin pan, fill each cup with cooked ham or bacon, shredded cheese, and chopped veggies, crack in an egg, bake in a 350 degree oven until set, and heat up a few each morning for a quick meal. Or, create a breakfast station in your kitchen so that children can grab what they want on busy mornings.
- Simplify meal planning. Consider having themes for each night of the week, (ie – “Meatless Monday” or “Taco Tuesday”) and plan your meals a week in advance. I have one friend who avoids making meals with more than five ingredients. Others prep casseroles each week, which can be frozen and eaten when busier times come up later in the season. Try easy sheet pan suppers or Slow Cooker meals (Pinterest has a ton of recipes for both,) or try using a meal delivery service to supplement a few dinners each week. Also, it’s soup season – make a large batch of your favorite soup, serve half and then pour the rest in food storage containers. Freeze them until you’re ready to have the soup again in a few weeks, or do a soup exchange with friends.
- Make use of seasonal ingredients. Use apples in sweet treats (ie – breakfast fritters, dessert dumplings, even something as simple as dipping slices in caramel sauce.) Add pumpkin puree to smoothies, or roast pumpkin seeds for a tasty and healthy snack – after drying them completely, toss them with either seasoning salt or Ranch seasoning, and roast them in the oven until browned (tossing them every so often.)
- Find a weekly routine that works well for your family’s needs. I have one friend whose children do their homework immediately when they come home from school; no exceptions. I have another who only allows one activity per child per semester to avoid chaotic schedules. I have several friends whose children have age-appropriate chore-charts, so that all family members play a role in keeping the home clean and organized.
- As moms, make sure you are carving out time for yourself each week, in whatever way you enjoy spending your time. Wake up 30 minutes early to journal or to read, wait until your little ones are in bed to do a workout DVD or to hit the gym, use a lunch break to pursue a hobby or to take a walk, or buy individual facial masks at a beauty products store to give yourself a little spa treatment on the weekends.
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