Another year, another back to school night (for some of us, and for others, not yet). Somehow, this makes it more real for me as a parent, even more than that mad rush to buy school supplies (some more on that later in the post) on that one day in the year when the store is full (of parents and children joining in that same mad rush, of course!) and when it seems that all the parents and children have already been there (or many of the shelves have emptied themselves by magic).. but then again, what are all these people doing with us in the store? 🙂
Well, setting that aside and coming back to my point, we had my DD’s back to school night yesterday. I was just a few minutes later than I planned heading out of home, and well, of course, I had to wait at that signal for two rounds, which meant I found parking waaay-over-there, which meant I missed the zeroth period session completely (imagine if it was my daughter, she would have been marked absent for that already, my consolation: it was PE and we have done the back to school for PE many times already!). Another realization dawned as I raced from class to class (as it does every time we attend these sessions at the kids’ schools): they do a lot of (speed)walking everyday.
If you have to attend your kids’ back to school events yet, here are a few tips (learned from experience years ago, but do fail to implement them myself sometimes, like yesterday):
- Arrive with time to spare (so you find parking close enough or at the least, with time to walk to school if you park at a distance; or if only one parent plans to attend, you could arrange to have yourself dropped off and picked up, just like your kids!)
- If your kids are younger and you need to ensure care for them, plan beforehand – in our case, it is mostly friends who have a parent staying home and our kids love that play-date on a weekend evening, or friends whose kids go to a different school and have their back to school on different days
- Pack a snack for yourself : I am sure you will have ensured your family at home is taken care of – dinner all ready and waiting for them; but what about yourself? I end up finding myself hungry sometimes halfway through these mostly two-hour sessions; and yes it is dinnertime; so I learned to take a bottle of water and a snack with me; preferably one that does not make too much noise while I reach for it and eat it – maybe a soft granola bar opened and in a ziploc.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Remember the speed-walking I mentioned!
What else have I learned from this? Ensure they have the energy for their school day, not just for all that wonderful mental stimulation for their brain but also for that physical energy they have to expend during and between classes too. I do believe I have learned a trick or two over the years to help them (as have you). By checking with them on what is sustaining (and also at least passable on the good-to-eat scale), I have been upping my lunch-packing skills over the years (and as they progressed from pre-school to the older one now in high-school as well)!
So here are a few tips I have for you from my years of packing lunches (it is over a dozen years now, wow, time does fly). Using some keywords from back to school night yesterday, here they are:
- Collaborate: Check with your kids on what foods stay eatable (all foods definitely are edible, but I do not want them to look at the box and go, oh that is so soggy now, or the likes of it; and I speak from experience), what sustains, and of course, what they love,as well as what they found interesting in their friends’ lunchboxes that they might want to try out. It also helps if it is something they can help make/pack!
- Be Responsible (to your body): Ensure healthy and sustaining lunches with a mix of protein, carbs, fruits, and veggies. And I need to now remember that I have teens (and have learned over the past year or so to pack more of the food than before!)
- Be Kind/Caring (to your tastebuds): Mix it up so lunches don’t get boring and add twists to the same-old to transform them to wow-news (for example,
- Presentation Matters: Pack it all up pretty – while your teens have outgrown the cute stage and definitely might not want to see sandwiches in the shape of hearts or critter carrots, kids (and adults) of all ages will love a neatly packed lunch that looks good and stays good as well. That is, if you need an ice pack to keep the lunch fresh, don’t forget it; have containers and separate sections for food as needed.
- Some Lunch/Snack Ideas For You: Wraps are a hit always, summer pasta salads are a warm-weather favorite, while mac and cheese and the like are winter-loves. Make this the main part of the meal and include fruits, a fun snack on the side for lunching (chips, pretzels, etc), add a sweet treat every once in a while. And don’t forget to include an additional(or more) nutritional snack for those other times when hunger can hit them – granola bars (homemade or store bought, either works), fruits, cheese sticks, homemade trail mixes, and crackers with cheese/peanut butter sides are some examples.
And last but not least, school supplies: While it was a mad rush and we had to move back and forth to find some of the supplies (but found them thanks to the helpful staff at our local Staples – in spite of that mad rush), that trip was a success. And economical as well – of course, we cannot go wrong with spiral notebooks for less than a dollar (75 cents), a pack of 60 ballpoint pens in assorted colors for less than $7 (well, my DD needed a few black, a few red, and a few blue; and one can never have too few pens, not in our household, at least!; and our price point on that day was $5), and so many more (paper folders, composition notebooks for half a dollar, and etc.)
- If possible at all, wait a while to ensure that the items on your kids’ lists are really needed. Sometimes, they already have it or they are just recommended, not required. The items I already bought were ones from their list that they really would need anyway sooner or later. For the others, I plan to wait a few weeks into school and then walk into a calmer store (granted I might not find these deals, but hey, I just got a $10 coupon off $20 for school supplies today from my local Staples store – thank you!).
- Look for those deals and pair them up with saving apps like Swagbucks, eBates, ReceiptHog, CouponCabin, iBotta and more, as applicable to get the maximum out of the deal. Click on the links for these above to register for them if you are not a member already. (Note: a couple of them offer referral bonuses; hint,hint : I will be so ever grateful for those referral bonuses). For all of them, they will gain you some moolah, slowly but surely – I can attest to all these myself as I have, and still do, actively use(d) them).
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What’s Online at Swagbucks.com
A look at part of our receipt that day: