School Lunch Organiser

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School Lunch Organiser
How do you plan your kids school lunches? Is it impromptu, planned a day in advance? A week? Or monthly?
Ive put up a wipe-clean board for each school-going child on my fridge with a list of their preferences: main, fruit and snack. Under each ive written in what they like and i try to make sure they get 1xmain 2xfruit and 2xsnack or 3xsnack. There arent that many preferences that are common to all 3 of them. So having this list makes it easier to prepare their lunches without asking them each day what they would like and without confusing the one who likes pasta arrabiata with the other 2 who prefer pasta and cheese.
I also aim to pack snacks and fruit portions the night before. And main portion in the morning (unless of course it is somethin that will stay well if packed the night before too)
In an effort to pack a rainbow lunch for them i have kept a pie chart with the food groups right next to lunch menu. I sometimes fail but try to make it up by offering them those foods for after-school lunch or dinner.

Mains:
Pasta arrabiata
Mac and cheese
Baked baby potatoes with cheese
Chicken pita with cheese and lettuce
Chicken sandwhiches or rolls
Buttered bread
Peanut butter sandwhich
Toast with jam and butter
Creamy spaghetti with brocolli and corn
Chicken nuggets
Fish fingers
Kebabs
Cut corn with butter
Chicken salad
Cottage pie

Fruits:
Melon
Pineapple
Grapes
Clementines
Banana
Apple
Kiwi
Strawberries
Mango

Snacks:
Cereal bar
Cream crackers
Muesli/granola
Yoghurt
Macadamia nuts
Pretzels
Cashews
Peanuts
Pistachios
Crunchy corn
Popcorn
Dried mango
Dried apple
Dried banana
Cranberries
Raisins

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Food Group Plate / Pie Chart

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Kids Planner

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How do you prepare for your kids school week?
3 out of my 4 kids are at school so to make sure each of them have what they need for everyday i drew up a simple weekly table for each one. Laminated it so that it functions as a white board and put it up above the homework tables.
It includes everything they need to wear and pack for each school day as well as the time they finish school that day.
3 different grades and 2 different school means everyone finishes at a different time. Their sport choices and extra mural activities change regularly so i just amend the list as we go along.
Its been a wonderful tool to teach them responsibility too. Everynight each one sets out their uniform for the next day and packs whatever they need to carry. Makes mornings a breeze.

Organising My Day (Part 3)

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I manage my time through this daily planner. Its just a guide because when u have a toddler or younger kids home, their needs take priority and u tend to then fall out of the time parameters you have set.
A quick tip : always allocate approx 25% extra time for each entry to account for any unforseen events(in our house- usually a nappy change or at the moment a toddler tantrum)
I lay out this time table for myself and laminated it so it can function as a whiteboard and split it in 30min increments. I worked it out around the times that are constant. Namely:school drop off, pick up and prayer time. Its not often that i need to attend a morning achool function so most mornings are pretty “free” from 9 – 12 and i have made little tabs to slot into this time
✔face mask and puzzles (this happens once a week as part of our activities so i put on my face mask and concurrently build puzzles pr play games with my toddler) thats the only way i can slot in some time for myself
✔grocery shopping happens once a week on a monday and thats a full morning including an eat-out brekkie for me and my tot
✔sorting and packing + tv time(once a week i aim to neaten out cupboards and pack away the bucket of things that we collected over the week that have been lying around. During this time i let my tot get in some tv time-yay for Sophia the first)
✔activity time happens every mornig for my tot and is usually unstructured.
This is what my day looks like
4am Wake up
4:30 shower + coffee
5am prayer
5:30 wake up kids and start preparing school lunches
6am kids brekkie together
6:20 leave for school
8am back home and start cooking while tot plays pr does an activity and snacks
9am completed with cooking for the day including lunch time snacks.
Free till 12 for incidentals
12:30 prayer time
1pm leave for school rounds i carry our lunch and watch the kids play sport
3:30 arrive back home and prep for extra murals
4pm drop kids to extra mural activities
4:30 tot snack time and prayer time
5pm collect kids
Start homework
6:30 dinner and prayer
7pm kids shower
7:30 walk in summer or tv time in winter
8pm kids reading and bedtime
8:30 relax a bit
9:30 prayer and bedtime for me

Organising My Day (Part 2)

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The next part of how i organise my day / days📔🎀📔
I have always been a lover of folios/planners/momagendas/diaries. In fact i consider myself the first customer when the next years diaries are launched 😂
But more recently i have moved away from having a diary and i have moved on exclusively to keeping a monthly planner, when i did keep a diary i preferred a week-view diary so that i could see everythin for that week at first glance and not have any surprises when i turn the page.
My month planner Is not fancy or pretty, and it cant compare to some of the beautiful planners you can download off the internet but its the right size and its super practical. Its originally designed to be a desk pad and its in A3 size available at most stationers. I tear out the pages and keep 2 months on my kitchen wall. (Will post a version next). I usually dont make my own plans 2 months in advance but i do fill in important dates that are sent out with my kids term calendars. That way we work all other activities around those days and it helps me to ensure that i dont do any double entries on the same day.
Another tip i can add is that its important to do your diary entries immediately so that you dont risk forgetting an event or realise too close to the time that an event is coming up.
I include in my 2 month planner:
✔Birthdates
✔School events
✔Tests
✔Term dates
✔Appointments
I also use semi transparent, color coordinated tabs if a particular event is for a particular child so at first glance i can see who has somethin coming up next.
On the right hand side is a space for notes. In this section i usually fill in things i need to do/reminders for that month that dont need to be done in any particular order. Examples: remebering to make a dentist appointment, remembering to buy next seasons school uniforms etc (and when i am ready then i allocate a day that has time to do it and that usually depends on my day planner)

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This is what my monthly planner in action looks like. I put 2 months up on my wall in my kitchen in a space that is convenient and easy to access but also not noisy to look at 😂
I keep my semi-transparent repositionable sticky tabs there too for easy of use. Pink for my 10 year old, green and purple for my 7 & 6 year old. That way i know at first glance when an event is coming up for either or all of them.
I put a line through days that have past – it just gives a feeling of accomplishment to planner addicts like me 😉
I like doing 2 months that way it gives me a broader view of blank spaces if i want to plan anything for those days. I also put a huge “H” to indicate holidays.
In the notes section i fill in reminders of general things i need to do or want to buy during the month that have no particular order.
Tell me if you like this method and if you have any tips of your own to make planning for your family easier?

Organising My Day (Part 1)

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I was inspired to start writing this post (or i should say one of a string of posts) on how i organise my day by my friend @laylahs_
She asked me yesterday how i manage all the hectic-ness of my day. And honestly i had no easy answer to that question. But there is method to the madness. And each family or individual need to find a method to suit their lifestyle. I would need to post this in parts and hope its helpful.
I spend a big part of my day (3 hours almost) driving and being a mom taxi 🙅🙋🙇🙏 so having everything i need to go with me in the car is mandatory. I dont want to spend time just before i need to leave home trying to gather things i will need for our daily “roadtrip”. So i have printed out everything that needs to go with me on small cards. In this picture is my nappy bag list which ive attached with ribbon to my nappy bag-this list has changed over time according to what we need. Sometimes i ask my helper or my daughter to prepare the bag for me so having a list attached really helps to make sure nothing is forgotten. I try to repack this bag every night so the next day is a breeze. This is my toddlers bag and th list includes:
1. 6xnappies
2. 1 “full” or at leasf half full wetwipes
3. Wrist band (i like having this for the unexpected trip to the mall to make sure shes attached to me all the time when shes out of her stroller)
4. A set of clothes just in case
5. A hoodie if its cold
6. A box of juice and pkt of crisp in case she gets hungry (i usually pack her some wholesome fresh food too, but i keep this always packed in case our outing tends to be longer than expected)
7. Snack tin with dry snacks like pretzels, muesli, dried cranberries etc
8. Warm blanket for winter/ cool one for summer for car naps
9. Small pillow for comfort
10. Hand sanitiser for the on the go nappy changes or eating on the run.

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These are 2 other lists that are important for my day-to-day. One goes on my emergency bag (this bag stays in the boot of my car ALL the time and has just a few important items in it)
✔Nappies
✔Wetwipes
✔an extra set of clothes for each child
✔hoodie for each child (in case we go out and the weather turns) – happened to me tons of times
✔peak cap for each child
✔2 sealed bottled water
✔Towel (in case)
✔blanket
✔mini first aid kit (antibacterial spray, ointment, plasters and paracetamol)
✔small amount of cash money

I repack this bag only when i know we have used somethin from it otherwise it just stays in the boot.
The second list pictures here is what needs to go into my car and is wonderful when i ask someone else to put things in for me.
1. Pink nappie bag
2. Emergency bag
3. 2xneck pillows if kids fall asleep
4. DVD Player box which has 4-6 kid dvds, remote control, player and plugs
5. Kid crate which has our books and cd’s and travel games
6. Pram
7. Phone charger
8. Bin/plastic bag

I pasted this inside my car on the dashboard.
I know its alot of lists but they have truly made things easier. Hope can help you too.

Reward Systems

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Reward Systems Part 1-Preparation
The new reward system that i am Introducing to my 6, 7 & 10 year old is based on a token system.
You can earn, lose and spend tokens.
I bought these clear pvc jars (+-500ml size) with wide opening(see pic)
The tokens i will be using are wooden beads about the diameter of a coin(see pic)
The jar holds about 50-60 of these beads which is a perfect size for our system.
I stuck on some vinyl chalkboard labels and labelled each childs bottle with a paint marker.
You can use buttons, beads, pom poms or anything you can think of that will work.

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The second part of our reward system establishes how to earn, lose and spend tokens. I sat my kids down after preparing the system itself to explain to them how we were goin to go about it. Now that they’re 6, 7 & 10 i was truly amazed at their input. In fact my 10year old truly impressed me how she pointed out flaws in the system and cleared out a few uncertainties. My 7 year old made sure about what each item in our treat box costed. And my 6 year old was entirely nonchalant. As long as she was earning with minimal effort-that is good enough for her 😂
As a parent you would know what behaviours you need to concentrate on in your kids. I feel that moulding a childs behaviour is not always a direct result of giving them an instruction. And sometimes that extra motivation just helps. Knowing they are going to receive a token or two just coax their efforts.

Here is our earn chart:

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EARN
I printed out an Earn, Lose and Spend chart indicating to my kids how they could earn tokens as part of our rewards system. It is important that children have a clear indication of what they are earning. It is almost like a routine. Children thrive on routine knowing what to expect or what comes next. And knowing what they will receive after a task provides for them that security. It is also very important to reward them on completion of the respective task. That way the sense of accomplishment is more real. I have kept our jars and beads in a central spot so that when they have completed a task they receive their tokens.
For our household the above are areas we need to work on and new behaviours i think are important to mold.
Eg. In almost all cases my children are obedient. However often my son will groan when instructed. Or delay. So our goal now is to obey cheerfully and on time.
Cleaning up after yourself without being reminded(more than once) is an area that needs extra attention in our home. Hence they can earn 3 tokens for this one to motivate them to hopefully achieve that behaviour sooner.

Here is our LOSE chart. It depicts behaviours that would cause you to lose tokens.

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Certain behaviours result in losing a token immediately- they are non negotiable.
There are also those behaviours that deserve a warning first. And if they continue they will then lose a token.

Om a Sunday we sit together and then count out the tokens and everyone gets to decide how to spend them. Here is our SPEND chart.

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Rewars Systems – Part 3
Spending your earnings.
This is of course the most exciting part of a reward system – THE REWARD 😆😆😆
I have given my kids options on how they would like to spend their tokens. Every sunday we count out how many tokens each child has and then decided how they would like to spend it.
1. On 30min of mummy and me time (that means just the 2 of us) – i dont do this because i feel that they need to earn time spent with me or because they need to pay me back for time spent with me, but it is merely to encourage the good behaviours. I explained to them that if i spent less time giving them instructions i would have more time to spend alone with each one. So everytime they earned a token for completing a task without difficulty- they are getting closer to their 30minutes.
In this time we could take a walk, read a chapter of their favourite book, play a board game, ride our bikes or bake (and im open to any other suggestions)
2. 30min wifi purely for gameplay
3. Extra tv time (i allow them 30 min a day anyway provided they have completed ALL homework)
4. Convert tokens to cash eg 1 token = 1 rand so that they have the option of saving their money.
5. Treat from the treatbox ( so to achieve this and make sure i filled the treatbox with items they would want to earn we went for milkshakes the other day and walked around the mall. I tried to gauge what they like by seeing things they picked up to look at or things they asked me for. I then went back the next day to buy them. I individually marked each item based on how much they costed so R10 toy = 10 tokens.) Out treatbox contains all little items. And ive made it clear to them that should i find toys on the floor those would also go into the treatbox to be earned again. I noticed too that they have more value for items they have earned and they are less likely to be careless about it.
It is also important to ensure that earning their rewards takes effort but not so much that they would rather leave it. For eg earning 100 tokens to go on an outing would take all month-younger kids can not envision this and they will then lose interest

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Everythin you see in this picture is in our treatbox plus a few extra items
6year old –
White tutu = 30 tokens
Playing cards = 25 tokens
Slime = 7 tokens
Stylus pen for her iPad = 30 tokens
New glitter to add to her craft box = 5 tokens
Cartridges for her leappad = 15 tokens (these cost R250 each and she has around 20 cartridges – she is only allowed 6 in her bag so when she decides she wants to play with  one that stays with me she has to swap 15 tokens and 1 cartridge to get a new one)
Lego reading light = 30 tokens
Little cupcake shaped erasers for her collection = 5 tokens

7 year old –
Bubble gun = 30 tokens
Extra bubbles = 7 tokens
Slime = 7 tokens
Laser light = 15 tokens
Balloon pump = 15 tokens
Balloons = 5 tokens
Stylus pen = 30 tokens
Scratch paper = 5 tokens

10 year old –
She generally prefers to convert to cash and save her money. She gets an allowance already every week. So this is an opportunity to earn extra cash.
However i have a few items for her too:
Craft stickers = 10 tokens
Books = 30 tokens (her books are always R100 or more but i feel reading is so good for them that the sooner they earn the book the better)
Selfie stick = 25 tokens
Tinted lipbalms = 10 tokens
Nail polish = 15 tokens
Bracelets = 10 tokens

Hope this helps !!!!!

Toy Organising

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Every 3 months i rotate the toys in our home that are open and available for the kids to play with. Over the years i have come to notice that if there were too many options available the kids would easily become bored with seeing all of it. Often the floor would be strewn with toys because they were not captured and interested enough because there was just too much to play with. So i started keeping just one set of shelves with toys that are easily accessible to them. The balance would go into already packed toy boxes right at the top of some storage cupboards. Im my mom organiser folio (which i will post seperately) i keep a list of which toys will be found in which boxes. Of course i would go along with their interests too and if they were particularly attached to something i would keep that out. When i see they are losing interest in a toy i would then pack it away. If i thought certain toys were not age appropriate i then too would keep them aside from our rotation. I photocopy the list and stick it onto the respective boxes making the toys easier to locate.
Often i would surprise them by leaving some “new” toys out (from our packed away goodies) and the interest and excitement would be overwhelming.

With our sensory bins i keep them in a closed cupboard. That is easily accessible for me but not for my toddler. Most of the time the sensory bins and trays are a supervised activity so i dont want her taking them out freely. I have a monthly planner where i jot down the activities we would be doing thay day and almost 5 out of 7 days of the week it would include a sensory box.

School Lunchbox Organising

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Lunchboxes and organising
So having 4 kids means i have to be super organised when it comes to lunchbox preparation and organising. For me the best way to do this is to color co-ordinate lunchboxes and keep a variety of sizes to fit all the yummies.

I let the kids choose their own color, my son being undecided between blue and green ended up with both. And my toddler gets away using any small little lunchbox thats left over from the rest (soon we’ll have to go lunchbox shopping for her).

I prefer to pack their snacks in individual or stacking containers and the size of container will depend on the type of snack. I try to use what fits together nicely to save space and avoid an overcrowded overflowing lunchbox.

Some of the dry snacks i include are:
Biltong
Dried apricots
Dried mango (cut smaller)
Pretzels
Macadamia nuts
Dried cranberries
Muesli
Almonds
Peanuts
Raisins
Dried banana
Dried apples

Fresh snacks:
Cubed fruit (usually 2-3 / seperately packed)
Cream cheese cubes
Baby cucumber
Baby tomatoes
Finger carrots
Grilled mushrooms
Cherries
A banana
Mini salad (cucumber, feta cheese and mini tomatoes – for those who like tomatoes)

Main lunch meal:
Arrabbiata/napoletana with penne/fusili
Chiproll
Finshfingers, half slice buttered bread
Chicken and mayo sandwhich
Chicken nuggets with half seeded roll
Sweetcorn and butter as a side
Baby baked potatoes, peas or corn and a small slice of chicken
Chicken burgers
Mac and cheese
Cheese sandwhich
Cream cheese and cucumber sandwhich
Peanut butter bread
Chicken pitas
Tuna and mayo sandwhich

Dessert (Fridays only to avoid too much sweeties)
Custard
Popping candy filled biscuits available at Woolworths
Marshmallows

I try not to cut the sandwhiches using the shape sandwhich cutters to avoid waste. But what i do like to do is cut the bread into longer strips or wedges or pieces that almost fit together like a tangram or puzzle.

I try to make sure i pack somethin from each list for everyday so they get a decent balance.

Ive also drawn up list of each childs lunch preferences so that prep time is a breeze. At times choices coincide and sometimes they dont. But the list helps me to prepare somethin different each time without having to ask them every night what they would like for the next day.