Back to School Q&A

Happy Monday, friends!

Let me start by saying that this week is our last official week of summer, so I’m taking just a bit of time off to hang with that family of mine.  I WILL be blogging MWF this week, so come on back every other day please 🙂 .

Today, I’ve decided to start a new series where we do a Q&A over certain topics.  When I did my Q&A Part 1 and Part 2 about two months ago, I loved the interaction and thought it would be even more fun to streamline the topics into one…thus, our first one today!

The topic?

BACK TO SCHOOL!

(Insert me sobbing right here.)

We have one full week left, and as much as I want to deny it…it’s happening. #boohoo

Last week, I posted on Instagram and asked for people to ask me any sort of question related to back to school.  Friends, I was overwhelmed with the response!  Holy cow!  I went through and read them all, and then started screen-shotting certain questions that pertained to certain topics (because so many of the questions fell into the same category as other ones).  I don’t know why, but the weirdo in me loves a Q&A.  I love learning random things about people and especially when it comes to their routines/lifestyle.  So, ready or not, here we go…it’s time for back to school.  #stillsobbing

Sometimes!  My big kids do their homework independently and then I help Ashby with hers, but sometimes, they’ll help too.  Typically, it’s reading together.

During the school year?  I make at least two a week.  Sometimes though, I’ll use the slow cooker to assist me in a meal.  So, instead of the entire meal being prepared in there, I’ll just use it during the day to poach my chicken to be used that night in another meal.  Make sense?  If you count that, then I bet I pull my slow cooker out at least three times a week.

Different things!  I would say that Kensington struggles with “I loved last year, I loved my teacher, I loved my classroom, I loved who was in my class” stuff.  I think she always gets settled into her class/routine and then gets a little melancholy when it’s time for something new.  Of course, she always settles into the new after awhile though.  Smith struggles with waking up.  I love Smith.  Smith is amazing.  Smith is always the easiest, calmest, most easy-going kid.  Unless he has to wake up early.  He is not happy to wake up early in the morning…so that becomes a struggle.  Oh, he comes downstairs when I ask him to…but he isn’t exactly pleasant most mornings about it.  Right now, Ashby is so happy go lucky that I don’t think she struggles with anything.  I attribute that to her age and overall “easy going-ness”.  I’m sure she’ll reach an age when she does have worries/fears/anxieties about starting a new school year, but so far, she hasn’t shown signs of that.

We have altered and changed that over the years based on their ages and what they eat.  Last year, we implemented some new things.  One, I started sending my big three to school every single day with something hot.  They either had leftovers or I would get creative and find things that I could heat up and put in their thermoses.  You guys actually talked me through this, and it really revolutionized our year!  I felt like my kids came home from school every day much less hungry because they ate more for lunch.

Here are the things you taught me about this: First, buy these thermoses.  Then, boil water that morning and place it in each thermos for 10 minutes (I would make breakfast, empty the dishwasher, etc. while it was sitting).  Next, heat food and then place hot food in the hot thermos (it’s hot because you just had boiling water in there).  Finally add to the lunch box.  You guys also encouraged me to use Costco and Trader Joe’s for frozen items that I could heat up and place in there.  For instance, orange chicken and/or fried rice from TJ was a huge hit!  It made enough for each kid to have it twice in one week.  I know that probably sounds like a lot of work, but honestly, I had it down to such a science that I never even noticed I was doing it in the morning as I drank my own coffee and did other chores in the kitchen.  I think the key is being prepared!  I always knew before bed what I would put in there the next day.  And again, it’s great for leftovers!

Now, I added the thermos, but last year, I realized that they needed to be packing everything else.  Even Madeley was able to pack her own lunch.  Immediately, when my kids come in from school, they emptied their backpacks and lunchboxes and then filled them with the “other stuff” for the next day (string cheese, a bag of chips, trail mix, yogurt, etc).  This way, the next morning, all I did was add the thermos and they were ready to go.

The second semester last year, Ashby asked if she could eat what the cafeteria was serving…and SHE LOVED IT!  She ate lunch at school every single day from there on out and can’t wait to do it again this year.  I think it gives her a sense of being independent and a “big girl”.  Plus, she is my most adventurous eater, so she loves the variety each day.

The older they get, the more independent they become.  I get their breakfast ready before they wake up, but then after that, they eat, clean up breakfast, get themselves dressed, pick up their room, do their homework and stuff all on their own.  They know how much time they have and our mornings have such a rhythm that they know when they should be doing what.  Kensington wakes herself up with an alarm…Smith does not.  (See above question about their struggles…)

I feel like that’s us too!!  Everything I make is EASY!  I make a lot of things in my slow cooker or easy skillet-type suppers.  To see all of my slow cooker recipes, click HERE and then to see all of my entree recipes, click HERE.  At this point, we still really try and make an effort to eat dinner together every night…so, sometimes, that means we’re eating at 4:30 and other times, 8:00.  I would say about once a week, that doesn’t work out, so I try and make something in the slow cooker on those nights to make it easier for everyone.

8:00 to 3:00 🙂

I kind of feel like ours is too!  We find out about three days before (the day before our “Meet the Teacher” night).

I have to refocus after summer so that my work hours shift back to ending at 2:50 every day.  In the summer, I take a few hours each day to do something fun with the kids (like go swimming), so I work longer on those days (until 5 or 6), but during the school year, I try realllllllly hard to start my day super early and then be wrapped up by 2:50 (just in time to get them from school).  Now, sometimes, that doesn’t work out, but I really try hard to make it happen.

Oh let’s talk about snacks first.  I have some friends that do amazing, creative, super healthy and filling snacks…I considered it for a hot minute, but then realized that’s probably just not going to work out for us.  Realistically, I have bins in my pantry stocked with things from Costco like trail mix, protein bars, granola bars, gold fish crackers, rice rollers and such.  They grab something from there when they get home.  For breakfast, it’s a variety.  Sometimes, I do waffles (we love Van’s the most!) with Nutella or PB on top, scrambled eggs some mornings, turkey bacon breakfast sandwiches from Costco sometimes, and sometimes, it’s cereal.  It’s random.

I sat here and thought about this for a minute and then realized, Smith is my only kid who wears socks!  Hahaha!  None of my girls wear socks (and neither do I!).  Smith and Andrew wear black “no show” socks that all look the same, so I don’t match them.

They are a great quality, but to me, nothing says “back to school” like a fresh new backpack for the year.  It’s just something nice we do as a family.  They love to pick one out that represents their year, and I love to see how they change.  One year, they want princesses on there and the next, they’re too big for that.

Yes, but I don’t have to think much about it.  Their shorts can’t be too short, no spaghetti straps, etc….it’s not super strict, so I don’t really ever have to think about it.

Let me start by saying, homework at the elementary level in our school district is different with each school.  Some schools in our city have a “no homework” policy and then others, have some or a lot.  I really don’t know where our school stands…probably we would be considered one that has “some”.  All of the homework at every grade level is given on either Friday or Monday and then should be returned one week later.  So, that really gives the kids time to do it at their convenience (since it’s not due the next day).  Typically, it’s enough homework for maybe four (20 minute or so) sessions.  Last year, I got tired of my kids complaining that after school they couldn’t stay and play at the park (we walk home and it’s between the school and our house) or that they had to come right home and do it before their extracurricular activities (so that they didn’t have to do it right before bed), so I told them that we would start doing it in the morning and get it over with.  I used to wake my kids up and let them be a little lazy in the morning.  They lingered over breakfast, watched a minute of TV and then got dressed.  Now, they get up, eat (no TV), get dressed and have a full 30 minutes to do homework.  If they don’t have any (or have already completed it), they can read.  Our mornings MUCH IMPROVED!!!  In fact, our whole day did!  Now, I know that this doesn’t work for most people (because homework is so different) and won’t work for us long (because in middle school, they’ll have daily homework that is due the next day and takes much longer), but for us, for right now, this is working.  My kids fussed at first, but it didn’t take them long to realize that getting it done in the morning was way better then after school.  Now, after I pick them up, we can play at the park or they have some “chill” time between school and activities.

Kensington will be in 5th grade (which is the last year of elementary school here), Smith will be in 4th grade, Ashby will be in 1st grade and Madeley will be in Pre-K.  You have to be five by September 1 to start kinder here and Madeley doesn’t turn five until October 19.

Pottery Barn!!  Last year and this year, Smith bought Under Armour which worked out well too, but other than that, it’s been all Pottery Barn and they’re fantastic!

THEM!!!  I love having them at home.  I love being in the car with them and hearing them all talk.  Now, do we have hard days?  Yes!  Do they drive me nuts sometimes?  Of course!  But one of these days, they’re all going to grow up and leave me, so I really try and cherish every moment I have with them.  It’s always so weird to send them back and hear the silence.  Now, that being said, it’s also so lovely to walk through Hobby Lobby alone in the fall 😉 .

I think having a great relationship with the people at your school is key.  I have loved the administrators and teachers at my kids’ school, and they have helped us as a family tremendously over the years as we’ve handled/faced/dealt with things.

Kensington has been the only kiddo who, at a younger age, got really nervous and shy about starting school.  I’m hoping we handled it okay (it doesn’t bother her now), but we always reassured her that her teachers were excited about her being in their class, that she was going to have so much fun, that every year she gets nervous and that every year, she loves it.  And of course, we prayed for her.  Praying with her and for her really help too.

They do!  I don’t remember exactly when I stopped picking it for them…but at some point, they just started picking it out, and we go with it.  The only time I chime in is when it’s 90 degrees outside and someone walks down dressed for winter…or when it’s 35 outside and someone comes down in shorts and flip flops.  Why oh why do they do that?

That’s hard, mama!!!  I would say that you should let the teachers lead the way.  If the teacher is taking kiddos at the door and wanting you to head back to the car, then do it.  I think those teachers are brilliant when it comes to stuff like this and know exactly what to do on the first day, so trust their judgement.

Madeley started a new school in January that is nut-free (a first for us), so that changed up her routine just a little.  M loves to make her own lunch.  She almost always includes a bag of gold fish, yogurt, a cheese stick, applesauce and then some sort of turkey/ham thing (sometimes, a sandwich, a wrap or even by itself).  I help her with the protein part, but she loves assembling the rest.

YES!!  I think this helps us all transition into the school routine.  I won’t put the pumpkins out in my house until Labor Day weekend, but I sure will start burning apple spice candles, making “heartier” foods instead of everything being off the grill, and we’ll swim less (mostly because our activities all start back up!).

I love changing what we eat, what our house smells like and of course, adding pumpkins and making the place look like “fall”.  My mom always did this growing up, and it really does transition you from one season to the next.  We’ll eat soups and heartier meals, I’ll burn pumpkin or apple spice candles and life will just feel like “back to school”.

Realistically, my kids can wear their summer clothes through September.  Smith doesn’t like me to back to school shop for him until the weather changes, so I won’t.  We’ll do that sometime in October, so that he can have new jeans and long sleeve shirts.  The girls all like to get a few things to kick off the year.  I try and keep things transitional…so lighter fabrics but in “fall” colors that they can continue wearing with layers as the weather turns.  Kensington loves sweaters.  She’ll wear one in August.  Ha!

I have a post on our morning routine!  You can see it HERE.  My secret?  Prep, prep, prep!

We leave to take the kids to school at 7:45, so I wake them up at 6:30.  They eat from 6:30 to about 6:50 and then they have until 7:15 to get ready.  At 7:15, I like them all back in the kitchen doing their homework or reading until we leave at 7:45.  Sometimes, this works beautifully.  Sometimes, we’re a hot, screaming mess.

I am not good at this.  I basically throw away everything.  I hate having papers lying around.  Each year, we take 3 to 4 special art projects and frame them to hang upstairs in our living room.  We take lots of pictures of artwork that comes home so that it’s on our phone and then we hang up on the fridge, my office, their rooms other sentimental things…but I don’t have a great system.

Public!

Old Navy is my fave!

I try and do as much as I can before they get home!  I use my slow cooker all.the.time., I have the ingredients washed, sitting out, ready to go…I have a plan.  So, if I prep beforehand, and have their schedule in mind, I can make dinner and we can eat somewhere in the mix.  After school time can either be really easy or super crazy…I feel like it’s always one of the two.

Our school loves volunteers!  Last year, I volunteered in Ashby’s classroom once a week and I also had weekly “lunch duty” (where parents are there to help the teachers open packages, manage the kids, keep things as easy as possible, etc.).  I also helped with one field trip and then a handful of other things (parties, the carnival, Field Day, etc.).  Our school and principal ask for parent participation all the time, so Andrew and I jump in when possible.  As far as lunch guests go, kids can have them any day after the first two weeks of school (because they want kids to get settled into the routine) and on state testing days.  Other than that, parents are always welcome to come have lunch.

Prep as much as I can the night before.  It really does make a huge difference for us.

Cold turkey.

Ha!

I always have good intentions about getting them back into their bedtime routine for school, but I typically fail.

Whew!  I could have kept going, but I think I’ll stop right there for now.

Okay, I want to hear all your thoughts on back to school!  Now that you’ve had a peek into our life, give me a little look at yours too!  Happy Monday, friends!

 

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  • Erika Slaughter August 5, 2019 at 4:53 am

    You know what we’re trying cold turkey this year? Homework in the morning. If you hear screams the first week of school, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the Slaughter kids. 🤣🤣🤣

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog August 5, 2019 at 4:59 am

    You get so many questions, Shay! Thanks for answering them all – it was fun reading this post. ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Stephanie August 5, 2019 at 5:03 am

    I love hearing about routines and systems that work! Thank you for sharing! Something that has worked for us is hanging sweater storage cubes in their closets. We use one for each day’s outfit. I have both of my kids fill them with their clothes for the week on Sunday night. (They are both six so this allows me to review their choices and edit as necessary. 😉

  • Elizabeth August 5, 2019 at 5:26 am

    You have mentioned a few times recently that you don’t like back to school time! Why is that? (I’m a teacher so I love this time of year! Getting back into routine, finding out who will be in my class, shopping for school supplies-I love it all!) How are your kids feeling about the new school year?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

      It’s not that I don’t like back to school time (I live for fall!), I don’t love the end of summer. I love being home with my fam and the end of summer makes me a little sad.

  • Jamie Lynn August 5, 2019 at 5:42 am

    What size Pottery Barn backpack did you buy for your kids when they started Kinder?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

      Small (not the preschool size, the one bigger!)

      • Jamie Lynn August 5, 2019 at 9:03 pm

        Thank you 🙂

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt August 5, 2019 at 6:12 am

    Love this!!! I’m a teacher and will be dropping a baby off at “preschool” for the first time, so I know prepping the night before is going to be my lifesaver. I love the thought of burning fall candles to handle the transition back to school.MeetTheShaneyfelts

  • Elspeth August 5, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Thanks so much for answering my question, crazy to think back to school s almost here! Enjoy the last week of summer!
    http://www.elspethsdaybyday.com

  • Narci August 5, 2019 at 6:32 am

    How fun! I loved reading about your back to school routines. 🙂

  • Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs August 5, 2019 at 6:49 am

    “I throw everything out.” <———– YESSSS!!!!!!! I hate clutter and having a million papers lying on my kitchen table, kitchen island, under the table, on the stove, in the sofa cushions drives me nuts. SO MANY PAPERS that I will read again . . . never. It's a running joke in our house that I am notorious for throwing everything out, but otherwise we wouldn't see the floor! Keep one or two super cute things and then throw it out. Glad to know I am not the only one with this motto. Ha!

  • Lisa August 5, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I know you have an Apple 4 watch. Have you had trouble with scratches on the face? It isn’t like I do heavy work yet have some scratches that have not happened with my other big face watches. I have ordered some thin covers – like on a phone so I am hoping that works. It is just disappointing for such an expensive watch.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 7:12 am

      I do not have any scratches on mine (and I’ve never used a cover). Maybe you have a bad one??? I don’t know?

  • Colleen T August 5, 2019 at 6:59 am

    For children’s art work, I gather a stack and then we mail it out to grandparents who live out of state, great aunts, aunts and uncles about once a month….they love receiving the packages and they “recycle” it for me. We went to visit a great aunt once and she had art work from children from church hanging up and I thought “I have plenty of art work for her!”

  • Sarah August 5, 2019 at 7:05 am

    I loved reading this!!! I have three girls – oldest going into 2nd grade, middle starting kindergarten, and youngest will be in preschool three days per week. I will admit that usually I’m “ready” for them to be back in school haha; but this year I’m mourning the start of it!!! I don’t know if it’s because the summer FLEW by, they had a decent amount of camps or what but I am really going to miss having them home with me! You are right – there is absolutely nothing better than spending our days with our precious kiddos 🙂

    Loved reading this! Thank you for sharing!! What activities / sports are your kids involved in??!

    Warm regards,
    Sarah
    http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 7:11 am

      Our summer flew by too!!! All three of my girls take dance, Smith plays flag football and baseball, Kensington plays volleyball and then also takes a 30 minute tumbling class once a week and then this year, Ashby is playing soccer. Whew!

  • Anna August 5, 2019 at 7:38 am

    You don’t wear socks with your tennis shoes?!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 8:36 am

      I am so weird. I don’t wear them with boots either.

      • Debbie Ricks August 5, 2019 at 12:17 pm

        Okay… so this is the one thing that stuck out to me the most! haha! Not sure if it’s because all of my kids are out of school or what… but man did you have a TON of great tips!!! It makes me miss those back to school days, this will be my first year without one! I’m going to try the no sock thing tomorrow. One less thing to do in the morning before I exercise… maybe it will make it easier getting up and going to the gym, haha!! Thanks again!!

        • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:06 pm

          Hahaha! Let me know what you think, Debbie!

  • Jenn August 5, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I got really stuck on the no socks thing for your girls! At our school they have to wear tennis shoes every. single. day. because of PE. Do your girls not have to? I’m so jealous!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 8:36 am

      My girls wear those Sketcher Go Walks! No socks required in those sneakers!!

  • Kasie Miller August 5, 2019 at 8:22 am

    I loved this! Thanks for sharing all of your tips. We start back up again next week, too so this gave me a little motivation to tweak our routine a bit!

  • Bobbie August 5, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for sharing! As a 1st grade teacher and a mom who is taking my oldest to TK next week, this was full of great ideas. I know it will be an adjustment but always good to have some ideas to settle into a “routine”.

  • Lesli August 5, 2019 at 8:32 am

    How do you keep the cold items cold in their lunch when they also have a hot thermos? Wouldn’t an ice pack cool the thermos down or the thermos warm up the cold food? Am I missing something?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 8:35 am

      I use their napkin and chips and stuff as a buffer between the cold and the hot.

      • Sarah August 6, 2019 at 7:22 am

        This was my question too. We use PB lunch box, so you still stick the thermos in there? And basically ice pack under cold stuff on one side? Thermos on other?

        • Mix and Match Mama August 6, 2019 at 10:02 am

          I don’t use an ice pack. I put the thermos on one side, put things like chips (that aren’t cold or hot) in the middle and then cold stuff (string cheese, yogurt) on the other side.

  • Julia August 5, 2019 at 8:42 am

    For artwork, I take a photo of it and then toss it! At the end of the year, I make a Shutterfly photobook of all their artwork for the year. The kids love looking through it and I have zero clutter!

    Love all the rest of your tips. I do the thermos a couple days a week but my kids love hot lunches at their school cafeteria – the $$ adds up though so I try to pack when I can!

  • Alison Martinich August 5, 2019 at 8:52 am

    We get new backpacks from pottery barn each year as well! We love them! What do you do with the old ones? Im compiling a pile of them and cannot figure out what to do with them!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Same here. We use them for traveling/spending the night/sports…but same.

      • Carrie August 5, 2019 at 10:46 am

        You all should ask your schools and churches to see if they have a “back to school” donation program that ties in with school supplies – if the backpacks are clean and in good shape I’m sure another less fortunate child would love to have a fun “new” backpack for school. So many children in the US are in need of basic supplies!

      • Jayne August 6, 2019 at 4:14 pm

        Ours go to a teacher friend who can pass them along to kids that don’t have one or to agencies that work with homeless families or children’s emergency shelters.

    • Susan August 5, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      You could always donate them. 🙂

  • Maggie August 5, 2019 at 9:12 am

    You mentioned friends who do hearty/ bigger snacks after school. Would one or two of them mind if you shared their ideas as a snack post sometime in the near future. I would love to try this with my people but am in need of ideas!!

  • Julie August 5, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Hi Shay! First, help! I have the Nantucket blues. We just got back from a weekend trip and I’m wondering why I don’t live there? Missing the pristine beaches, the beautiful bike paths, the flowers, the family time and the wonderful food! (Bartlett’s farm! The Juice Bar!). Waaah!

    I love this post-thanks for answering all our questions. You always inspire me to get excited for back to school as I too, dread the end of my beloved summer.

    The only tip I have is years ago, I started a dedicated work space for each of my three (9,11,13). For us this means a desk and bookshelf in the family room but it really could be a corner of the dining room table, whatever works! It helps the kids to have a place they go to do their homework, concentrate, and keep all their stuff. That has really helped them motivate to do their own homework and keep track of their stuff!

    I hope you have the BEST last week of summer. Look forward to your next fall posts!

  • Patty Anderson August 5, 2019 at 9:37 am

    My girls are way older than school age now, but I used to keep special artwork or papers in a folder for each school year. Every couple of years I would weed it out, but as a grandmother now, I get a kick out of looking back at the special ones. My favorites are the ones where they fill in the blank about their mom or dad…”My mom’s eyes are black” or “My dad’s favorite food is beer nuts.” The answers still make me laugh!

  • Laci August 5, 2019 at 10:17 am

    My kids started back to school today and I just feel like the older they get the faster summer is going by! They love school so it was hard to be sad, but I also get emotional thinking how fast it’s slipping by. I will be burning my fall candles to help get my mind off the fact summer is gone! Yes, the more we get done the night before the better our morning is!

  • Jordan August 5, 2019 at 10:27 am

    This no sock thing is hilarious and fascinating! I would love if you would do a whole post on it :). I mean, now I’ve got a million questions for you. Did you grow up wearing socks? Did your parents wear socks? Stop at some point? do your feet smell? blisters? what about when your girls were babies/toddlers…socks? Do your friends wear socks? Do you own any socks? I think I could keep going….ha! Anyways, this definitely goes on your top 10 list of fascinating things about you :)!!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      Bahahahaha! I love every bit of this comment 🙂 .

      • Jill August 6, 2019 at 3:29 pm

        This is so funny! I’m with you Shay…I am anti socks too. I hate them with a passion. I do wear them sometimes in the winter with my heavier boots because I live in Michigan and we have tons of snow, but once I’m home they are off.

    • Jenn August 5, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      I felt exactly the same way! I got super fixated on the sock thing! Your comment is my brain when i read this post! 😂😂

  • amanda Wilson August 5, 2019 at 10:31 am

    I feel for you….we don’t go back untill after Sept long. Getting dressed really isn’t a n issue for you…..like when they come down in mismatched clothes it doesn’t make you cray cray??
    We HAVE to pick the night before or it’s a nightmare here!!
    I have 5 kids and my baby hits Kinder this year….the years fly by and I am mourning all the fun day time things I have done with all of them over the last 14 years!

  • Megan August 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Loved this….thank you for sharing. For the kids artwork this year I am going to take pictures of it and then create a chatbook that they can keep. I do a monthly chatbook and we love looking through them as a family 🙂

  • Ella August 5, 2019 at 11:05 am

    I love how you enjoy having your kids home with you.
    I’ve heard so much from parents who don’t enjoy summer vacation and having their kids off, so you are so impressive.

  • Fenny August 5, 2019 at 11:57 am

    You sound super organized! Something I need to work on, haha. Quick question, do your kids not snack on any fresh fruits and vegetables? My oldest loves her veggies, my youngest not so much.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      Yes! Bananas, apples, grapes and strawberries are the staples. They like peaches when they’re in season too. We also dip stuff in hummus and those individual guacamoles from Costco. All of that stuff makes great lunchbox food too!

  • Kristy Moore August 5, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    I love back to school (duh, I’m a teacher! LOL), but find August hard. It’s the Sunday of summer! Good luck and enjoy your last full week. I can’t believe Kensington is in her last year of elementary. Slow down!

  • Diana August 5, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Maybe it’s a Texas/southern thing not to wear socks? I live in Illinois and it’s so cold in the winter we have to wear socks! And I love warm cozy socks 😊

  • Nicole August 5, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    So fun!! I have a random question. What’s your go to order when you go out for breakfast? 😊

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Something spicy! I like breakfast tacos, anything with jalapenos, sausage…eggs with some heat is my fave 🙂 .

  • Jen August 5, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Have you used an air fryer yet? I know it might not work great with a larger family but I am curious. I don’t remember seeing anything posted by you. My kids do not really like anything made in a crock pot. They like their food more separate. They will eat a protein, veggie and carb but not all combined. I was thinking the air fryer might be a good way to cook up protein fast.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Andrew uses one every single day for his lunch. He puts in two chicken breasts with a little EVOO, salt and pepper and “fries” it for 22 minutes. Every. Day.

  • Barbara August 5, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Regarding the old backpacks, consider donating them to a school in your district that has children in need.

  • Sheaffer Sims August 5, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    We’re cold turkey it for the most part too. But I’ll wake him up really early the day before school starts, hoping that he’ll be really tired that night! Man, those first couple of days are tough! 🙂

  • Kelli August 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I couldn’t help but get sidetracked by your no-socks comment. You don’t ever wear socks?? With tennis shoes working out? Or in winter with boots? I’m so intrigued!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 5, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Bahahaha! Clearly, I need to talk about this more. I sometimes wear them when I’m working out…but for the most part, no. I like never wear them with shoes or boots. They make me feel a little claustrophobic, maybe?

      • Laura August 5, 2019 at 5:26 pm

        Boots without socks sounds so painful!!! And……the smell??

        I’ve always been a sock lover but you should try the aromatherapy fuzzy socks from Bath and Body Works. I couldn’t get through fall and winter without them!

  • Carrie August 5, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    So I have those thermoses and they absolutely fail us but our Stanley thermos is a hot work horse!!! Sometimes my daughter says it was nearly too hot too eat.
    My youngest has an anxiety disorder called selective mutism ( she can not talk in certain situations but with treatment is doing so well). We do a lot to prep for the school year but I never thought about changing the meals, etc. Getting our house in school mode but be so helpful!!
    I am a preschool special ed teacher and my biggest advice to Moms is to make drop off as quick as possible. The key to overcoming anxiety is to practice what makes you anxious in small doses over and over until it no longer makes you anxious. So for our little guys, often that first experience with anxiety is separation.

  • Katy T August 5, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks for answering my question and sharing!!!! This makes me a little more excited about getting back to school! Also, yes to totally going cold turkey on bed times!!

  • Bethany Skobel August 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Shay, I love today’s post!! And all of these posts where you answer questions!! Keeping my fingers crossed for another “day in the life” post! Those are the best too! 😊 here’s to the countdown to Fall!!!! 🙂

  • Leticia August 5, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I had my kids switch to practicing music (piano, violin) in the morning for the same reason. No one wanted to practice after school!! And trying to schedule them on two different instruments when they both had afterschool activities was a source of many arguments… But since my daughter is the early riser, she practiced first in the morning and that left time for my son to practice after breakfast!

  • Kacy M August 5, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    I love reading Q&A’s! Also I’m a preschool teacher and liked the back to school edition haha. For the parent that had the preschool question, I allow parents to drop off inside the room but as far as lingering or loitering, I’d say drop off as quickly as possible and go! The more you stay the more you get your child anxious and stressed and they start crying, throwing a tantrum, and upsetting the rest of the class (and teacher LOL), and then the whole day is off to a bad start. I know it can be hard for a parent to leave their kid at school for the first time ever, but like you said, we know best! And we’re with them all day, every day so they’ll get the hang of it!

  • Nicole August 5, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    What color watch band will you wear for the fall? 😊

  • Rachel August 6, 2019 at 5:35 am

    My tip is here
    https://www.amazon.com/Planet-Wise-Reusable-Zipper-Sandwich/dp/B00JZXFVJS/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?keywords=reusable+sandwich+bags+zipper&qid=1565087557&s=gateway&sr=8-3
    A few years ago our family went plastic-free and made the switch to reusable sandwich bags. No more ziplock bags! They are easy to clean and the kids love them. I recommend buying the kind with a zipper. In my experience they last longer.

  • Megan August 6, 2019 at 6:33 am

    Will you be publishing a back to school outfit post? I need ideas for my long-legged tween. She’s close to 5 feet now and it’s getting tough to find things that are appropriate for 5th grade, but aren’t too short on her long limbs 🙂

  • Kim August 6, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Perfect timing for this post. I’m reading it on the last morning of summer here before my kids head back to school tomorrow. The summer went so fast! I feel like I say that every year, but I really love having them home all summer, and, like you, get a little sad when they go back. It is just a big reminder of how fast the years are going by. I also have one who sounds so much like Kensington – loved last year’s teacher and class so much, she gets a little anxious/sad about the changes, even though overall she is excited to go back. Good luck to all the kids, parents, and teachers heading back this week (or soon)!

  • Sarah August 6, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Tip for the thermos lunches that saved me – use a canning funnel to get the food INTO the prepped thermos! Maybe I am just not talented, but some foods go everywhere and this makes it so easy. I also use an electric kettle to heat up the water to prep the thermos. Again – easy pour!

  • Dana August 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Hi Shay! Public schools get such a bad rap these days. What have you found to be the best things about them as your kids have gone through each grade?

    If you asked each of your kids, what would they say are their favorite things about school?

    Thanks!!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 7, 2019 at 8:07 am

      Our school district is fantastic! We’ve been nothing but thrilled with our public schools. I can’t say that’s the same for all public schools in our area, but the ones in McKinney are excellent. I think all of my kids would say their teachers have been their favorite parts 🙂 .

  • Tricia August 6, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Shay,
    Wow! I LOVED this post! As both a mom and a teacher this was right up my alley! I have to start by saying that I am both jealous and fascinated by the “open door” policy at your kids’ school! We live in Canada and in the city we live in the Catholic School Board has their schools on a pretty tight lock down! All exterior doors are locked at ALL times and you need to be “buzzed” in from the ladies in the office. Parents wandering around the hallways, dropping things off, coming to see their kids is highly discouraged. If it is your child’s birthday, for example, and you want to drop off cupcakes, you need to leave them in the office and your child will be called down to come and get them, you are not allowed to deliver them to the classroom. I have mixed feelings about this policy, but in the end, knowing that my children are safe and that “randoms” (ha ha) aren’t allowed in the school makes me feel that much better. Having said that, I am extremely fortunate as I teach at the same school that my children go to so I can pop my head into their classrooms at lunch or recess for a quick hello, hug or kiss. 🙂
    School doesn’t start for us until after Labour Day so I’m still soaking up all the time I can get with my children! The first day of school always hits me so much harder than it does my children. I’m a sap through and through and no matter how old my children are, they will always be my babies and I miss them and think about them constantly throughout the school day…sigh…
    Back to school traditions… Reading “The Kissing Hand” by Audrey Penn is always a great first day of school book to read to your students if you’re a teacher. It wasn’t until I became a mom and read the book to my oldest daughter the night before her first day of preschool (7 years ago) that his book took on a whole other meaning! It has now become a tradition that I read this book to my children every year on the night before the first day of school. You’d think that after reading it for so many years that I’d be able to read it without crying… Not the case! My children now know to bring me Kleenex before we snuggle down and start reading…
    Enjoy these last few days of summer with your kiddos! 🙂

    PS – When I asked you about your Kindle overheating/battery draining fast the other day, I should clarify that it happens on my iPad when I’m outside in the sun/on a hot day. Thanks!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 7, 2019 at 8:06 am

      I love the Kissing Hand!! We read that one too! I want to clarify though, I never said we have an open door policy. Our school is locked down and you also must be buzzed in and your ID scanned before you can enter the building. No one is wandering the hallways. When you get buzzed in, you say “I’m here because it’s my day to volunteer in the cafeteria” and they look that up, confirm it and you’re allowed inside.

  • Emily August 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Ok another sock question (sorry but I too am fascinated haha!), I love being cozy like you. I hate being cold. Don’t your feet get cold in the winter?!? I know you live in Texas so probably not as cold as my Chicago feet lol. What about when you wear hunter boots?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 7, 2019 at 8:05 am

      Oh you MUST wear them with Hunter boots or those things will NEVER come off! That is a must!! When I get home, I wear my ugg slippers, so my feet stay warm.

  • Kara August 6, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    How do you handle teacher gifts, beginning or end of the year? Christmas? Thanks!!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 7, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Our school always provides a fun list of all of their “favorite” things, so I typically pick something off of that. I also like to give them the cups my friend Amanda makes! That’s what my kids took on the first day last year, cups with their names on the side.

  • Mother of 3 August 6, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Our schools won’t start back up here for another 3 weeks or so but it sounds like you all have a much more relaxed district down there. I can remember my kids coming home with homework each night starting in 1st or 2nd grade and by 5th (which is middle school up here) they easily had a good hours worth of work. It’s nuts!

  • LisaD August 6, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    It’s been many years since I have had little ones going off to elementary school. I am a Mom of three and worked in the public school for years. My advice is to plan, plan and plan some more! Practice going through your morning routine with your kids. Let them pick out their clothes, lunches, school supplies, etc. Talk and talk with your children about expectations, rules, kindness, choices, about how fun it is to learn new thing, how great their teachers are. The more you practice these things the easier and more natural it becomes for them. Prep in the evenings as much as possible. Change can be hard for children (and parents!). Then cross your fingers, say a prayer, give them a hug and a smile…. and let them grow!

  • Amy Faulkner August 6, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    My number one sock tip – and I give this tip to new moms too – pick one style and color and buy in bulk. I’m a mom of three boys and we’re in a sweet spot right now where they are all three wearing the same size sock. So I bought dozens and dozens of pairs! No more matching for me!

  • Katherine August 7, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I feel like Kensington’s back to school nervousness is such a first child thing! I always felt the same way as the first child and would be nervous/sad about changing up a good
    thing while my younger siblings were so much more go with the flow…but then I would always adjust quickly and be just as happy! Good for her for getting the hang of it!

  • Eunice August 8, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Do you use an ice pack when you pack a cheese stick or yogurt (or something else cold) with the thermos? I’ve used the thermos many times for my kids but always thought it wouldn’t work with something cold!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 9, 2019 at 7:22 am

      I don’t use an icepack. I think those PB lunchboxes keep them really nice and cold.

  • Lisa August 8, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Oooooh I also got the open door policy impression since you have said Andrew eats with the kids or brings them drinks on an almost daily basis. Does he just sign up as a volunteer then?

    Also, I live in MD and schools go back after Labor Day but they don’t let out until mid June. I feel like it’s probably only colleges that have that Memorial through Labor Day stretch.

  • jennibell August 9, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Socks. . .what a funny thing to focus on in this post 🙂
    We have so.many.socks.!!! When they were LITTLE I started using plastic clothes pins to “pinch” the socks together — they go through the washer and dryer like that. I rarely “lose” socks now. Just a thought for all those moms looking for sock tips 😉
    I miss the days of prepping my kids for school, for sure. (I have 4 also.) Like you said, some days are harder than others, but there is a sweetness to it all too. . .now they “drive off” in the mornings. Sigh.