The darkness of the night

Night routine
Night
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

For some parents, the night routine is the most important routine of all.

Everyone is tired, children from the busy day of playing and learning and parents from working, whether at a paying job or just keeping the house from falling down.

A routine will help settle things down, keep you from losing patience and give parents time to reconnect with each other.

Setting limits is as important as setting up your nighttime routine.

Setting limits on how much TV a child watches is one thing but we also need to set a limit on the type of show they are watching, especially late afternoon.

Too much stimulation at night?

Overstimulating small children can cause a struggle at bedtime. Where possible avoid shows with lots of activity in, this is usually cartoons where the characters are often hyperkinetic or fighting. This includes games on tablets and pads.

Also, actives where the children get hyped up, this often happens when fathers work long hours and come home to play with the children. Fathers will often roughhouse with the boys or tease and tickle their little princesses!

Depending on the age of your child your night routine can start as early as 4 pm.

Create a routine

To create your routine you need to know how much sleep everybody needs at night to be productive during the day. Remember children and adults with severe ADHD often sleep less than other people.

One of my children has severe ADHD and when she was little even with dark curtains up, she would be up by 4 am! The most we could expect was 6 hours if nothing disturbed her night.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Sleeping child Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

How much sleep does the average person need?

I got this from the blog ‘The Sleep Council’.https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/

0-1 (infants) 14-15 hours’ sleep per day

1-3 yeas (toddlers) 12-14 hours’ sleep per day, this includes one or two naps during their daily routine

3-6 years (preschooler) 10-12 hours’ per day, this may include one nap, some children don’t need to nap at all by 6 years.

7-12 years (tween) 10-11 hours’ per day, with no nap.

13-18 years (teenager) 8-9 hours’ per day.

18+ years 7-9 hours’ sleep per day.

Deciding on bedtime

Deciding on when bedtime is and working backwards to create the rest of your night routine for the children is the easiest and then work forward from bedtime to create your night routine.

How to decide what time is bedtime?

First, what time do the children need to be up, given that the younger they are the longer their morning routine will take.

This means that if you need to leave the house by 7:15, the latest you need to wake your children in 6:15.

South African schools start earlier than most other countries at 7:45 and our working hours are also earlier with most jobs starting by 8:30.

Bedtime therefore in my home with only teenagers and adults is 9 pm and lights out at 10 pm, and sadly for me, my bedtime is later and my waking time is earlier!

Suggested bedtimes for infants would be 4 pm if they slept straight through but for most mom’s that is just a pipe dream. Hopefully, they are sleeping in 3-hour cycles.

Toddlers’ bedtimes would be around 6 pm for 12 hours sleep plus 2 hours during the day, it is suggested that the morning nap be around 2 hours long and the afternoon nap only an hour, bedtime could then be pushed to 7 pm to allow working parents some quality time with their little ones.

Sleep training

I am a fan of sleep training, depending on how it is done of course. Sleep training can be a traumatic experience for parents (and children if done wrong) but if you have more than one child or children on different night routines then it is a lifesaver.

A good bedtime for pre-schoolers is 6-7 pm, if they have had a nap during the day you may find that they are too awake to sleep before 8 pm.

With tweens, it is not really feasible to have bedtime before 8 pm as they usually have homework.

 Teenagers are a little harder to work with and getting them to bed by 9 can be a challenge. Their smartphones interfere with sleep!

Adult children and adults supposedly should be asleep by 10 pm, the only one in my house who does this is my son and that is only because he needs to be at work by 6 am!

The best use of the time leading up to bedtime are baths and reading to/with your child as they are calming activities before sleep.

Now that you know when it is time to sleep, you can decide on things like bath times and supper times.

According to most nutrition specialists, the last time we have something to eat should be 2 hours before going to bed.

Obviously this does not apply to infants whose main source of nutrition is milk; please follow the advice of your paediatrician or infant feeding specialist.

To control the use of cell phones before bedtime and after, we installed something called ‘ScreenTime’ and this locks the phones and allows you to monitor how much time the children spend on their devices.

Once the children are in bed it is time for your routine to begin.

Supper time may be in two stages, one for children who need to eat by 5 or 6 pm and then 7 pm for others. Dinner time at my home is our family time.

With 2 teens, 2 young adult children and a husband who only gets home at 6:30/7 pm, I insist that we eat together almost every night at 7/7:30pm and that there are no electronic devices present at the table.

This is where my children get to know each other again.

With today’s life styles, most families often don’t have time to spend together, this is often because of the extramural activities and sometimes the age gaps, as well as work or university.

Once dinner is over, the shower/bath schedule begins, with 5 people showering at night, time limits and a schedule is needed, this is to avoid running out of hot water! I choose to bath in the mornings before everyone is awake and only wash at night.

This means not only do I have as much hot water as I want but also no one is awake to disturb me.

Once dinner is over and the dishwasher loaded and running, night owls may want to prepare school and work lunches now, to give them extra time to sleep in the morning.

You may want to use this time to tidy up any clutter, pay your bills and sort your mail. Maybe just relax with a book and some tea before bed.

My night routine is usually, watch one episode of a series, write my blog or record a show and then have a cup of tea and read a little. I try to be lights out by midnight!

While setting up times for a night routine and sticking to them would work in an ideal world, life happens and it isn’t always possible.

Remember a routine is supposed to help you stay calm and make life easier, be flexible when you need to be. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/good-mornings-and-good-nights/

Good Mornings and Good Nights

Good Mornings and Good Nights 2

Mornings in most homes is absolute chaos. Mine used to be no different.

Good Mornings and Good Nights 3
create a routine to help kids get ready for school

Change is good

5 years ago I changed jobs and started working more reasonable hours. Mornings for me where a nightmare of disorganisation. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/blog/morning-routine/

Everyone rushing around at the last minute looking for missing books, shoes, lunches, etc. http://kasheringyourlife.co.za/routine-mornings/

For some reason when our children are babies we get a routine going. As they get older and start nursery school or even primary school, the routine we developed dissappears.

Here are some simple tips to help your mornings flow.

Setting up your routine

Set a specific time that each person needs to be up. This is based on how long it takes to get everyone dressed, so it is often age dependent.

Once you have established a time, for example 6:30, make it 15 minutes earlier. The reason for this is that they can then ask for another 5 minutes and you can say yes. Making you a nice parent.

When my brother and I were little, we were terrible at getting dressed for school. Our nanny decided instead of fighting to get us to the table for breakfast, she would bring breakfast to us. I am not sure if it worked or not.

My children come to the kitchen. Not that they actually eat breakfast but occasionally they are hungry enough for a bowl of cereal.

Now that I only have 2 children left in school, mornings are a little easier. Make no mistake, a 15-year-old can be as difficult to get ready as a 3- year -old!

The school my girls go to doesn’t have a uniform. Getting ready in the morning can take up to 4 changes of outfits!

Good Mornings and Good Nights 4
Packing the night before can avoid the mornings filled with anxiety over missing books

Lost baggage

Reminding them to pack or re-pack their bags is often a lost cause. Inevitably something is missing just as it is time to leave for school. The earlier you start incorporating bag checks at night the better luck you will have of getting out of the house on time.

Our school finishes at one thirty, so I have decided that if they leave their lunch boxes at home in the morning, it is too bad!

Later days

We don’t have extra murals at school so they won’t go hungry. For those with children who stay at school longer and who seem to regularly forget there lunch, I solved that problem with my husband’s lunch box. I stick it in the bag myself!

An evening routine is as important as a morning routine. There is nothing worse than ending your day with a shouting match about cellphones (for older children) and bedtimes.

Evening routines

When the children were small, I learnt a neat little tip. The same as you give them that extra 15 minutes in the morning. Give them the 15 minutes at night.

How this worked was 15 minutes before bath time I would go and tell them to start packing up or finishing what they were doing. I would then go back after 5 minutes and give a 10 minute warning and then a 5 minute warning. Occasionally this didn’t always work but my successes out did my failures.

This worked for bed time too. Even now as teenagers they get a 15 minute warning for bed time. This gives them time to say good night to all the friends on social media.

We have a wonderful app for the phones called ‘Screen Time’. One of its features is that you can set bedtimes and lights. You can also choose what time they wake up. The phone then allows limited access between bedtime and lights out. After lights out, it blocks all access to the phone. They can’t even check messages, the phone is ‘frozen’ till morning.

For the morning, they get 15-minute access to catch up. The phone then locks for 30 minutes, this is for getting ready and eating breakfast.

Any chores or tasks that need doing can be added to the screen time schedule. The phone is unlocked by the parent once the task or chore is done.

Introducing a routine into our home even as late as we did has definitely shown benefits. It is not always successful. We do encounter a little resistance but for the most part everyone has gone along.

Do you have a routine for your mornings or evenings?

The back to school rush

The back to school rush 6

The back to school rush is about to begin here in South Africa.

Not only getting the last minutes supplies and textbooks but also checking to see that the uniforms still fit!

Does your child have everything they need for the new school year?
Do you have everything?

If you are like me and have left everything to the last minute, the race and search for second-hand textbooks so that we don’t have to fork out huge amounts of money. If you are looking for second-hand books this is the group to checkout https://www.facebook.com/groups/539750712854478/ 

Lunch boxes and school bags

Do you know where the school bags from last year are? Can they be used this year for school or do you need to get new ones? What about lunch boxes and water bottles? Are they still good, do the lids on the water bottles seal properly?

What’s the book situation?

Books -image by kimberly farmer
Ready to cover those school books?

Where there any books left that the children can use this year? Every so often I get lucky and will find a book all neatly covered and unused.

Are you going to cover the school books yourself, get your child to do it or are you hiring someone to do the covering for you?

At one stage I had 4 children in school and spent 4 or 5 hours covering books, only to discover that the one child had to have her school books covered in certain colours.

Stationery

How much stationery do you still need to get? Have the dictionaries lasted, is the maths set all intact? Do you need more pens, pencils, coloured pencils, scissors, erasers, rulers, and the list goes on.

We did go through a stage here at home where one of my children refused to use anything from the previous year for school. It had to all be new. Thankfully there was only one and the next year we had no problems.

The change!

For the first time moms, this is a time filled with anxiety and excitement in equal parts! It is not only the new moms that experience this, but it is also the moms of children going to new schools, moving from primary school to high school and those moms whose kids are moving into matric.

Are you ready to go back to school?

The task we set ourselves for this week, is to check on all the things that I have mentioned and anything else that you can think of to help make that first day run a little smoother!

Lessons learned from falling off the meal planning wagon!

Lessons learned from falling off the meal planning wagon! 8

Lessons  learned from falling off the meal planning wagon!

Old Meal Plan
This is an old meal plan

I fell off the meal planning wagon!  Over the last 2 months I haven’t been as diligent with meal planning as I should be and it is showing. Here are some of the lessons learned.

Lesson 1

My bills have started to rise a little more, as I am buying food almost daily. While I still have stuck to my basic template and therefore, at least know my main ingredient. I am finding myself at the store almost every day. I don’t know what to make to go with my main ingredient. I stand and stare at the shelves. Lessons learned, a template is good but a meal plan is better.

Meal Plan Template
Available to workshop and FB course participants

Lesson 2

My kids are complaining of having nothing to eat (that’s because anything in the cupboard needs to be cooked still or the can actually opened) so they are making themselves eggs and toast.  We have started to be a little less healthy than we should be. Lesson learned, having set menus written where the family can see them, helps them see what they will be eating with “no food” available.

My very neat pantry
When there’s nothing to eat!

Lesson 3

School lunches are once again a nightmare to think of making. Except thankfully for the template, I at least know what to put on the bread. Lesson learned school and work lunches take more thought than I remember and take longer to prepare.

 

Lesson 4

I get home from work and don’t feel like cooking as I haven’t had anyone do any prep . It used to be that I would be able to assign prep tasks in the morning and I would come home and be able to begin putting my meal together immediately. I have gone from having dinner ready in 45 minutes or less to sometimes taking over an hour to make. Lessons learned.

Lesson 5

We are eating supper much later than normal. I often arrive home from work at around 6 or even later if I have to go to the store and decide what we are having with the main course, once am home I still have to prep before cooking.  I work 5 minutes from home. Lesson remembered, I HATE shopping!

Lesson 6

My children are snacking before their dinner because they can’t wait till 7:30 for food. This is a very bad habit. A habit they learned from …….. (an older family member). Snacking before a meal is extremely unhealthy. Lesson learned, family needs retraining!

It’s time to get back into my good habit of proper meal planning. What are the lessons learned? Meal planning is the tool to making my life easier! It saves me money and it reduces the amount of complaining from the kids!

Planner on my fridge
Menu planning on a magnetic board and stuck on the fridge, so everyone knows what’s for dinner

Follow me in my FB group, Kashering Your Life, Instagram @kasheringyourlife or Twitter @adibog to see how I get back up to speed! My weekly dinner plan is found in my insta-story and I post the meal in my feed once we have eaten. I also post the plan on my FB page.

Do you meal plan?

Children belong in the kitchen

Children belong in the kitchen 10

Children belong in the kitchen 11
Children belong in the kitchen (photo from Epicurious)

Children belong in the kitchen?  ‘RealIy’?, I hear all the moms out there ask, as they imagine the mess and how much longer it will take to prepare dinner. What about the sharp knives and the vegetable peelers and the mess?

I am one of those.  If it takes more than 30 minutes to prepare, I would rather not cook it. So why do I say children belong in the kitchen?

Obese children!

Children belong in the kitchen 12
13% of children under 12 in South Africa are obese!

I am a volunteer ambassador for the ‘Jamie Oliver Food Revolution’: their goal is to reduce childhood obesity 50% by the year 2030!

England has already banned the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16 because of the harm it does to their health.

Sugar tax

South Africa is introducing 11% tax on sugary drinks on April 1, 2018, to become one of only 20 countries to do this. While this may cause some consternation to those of us who are soda drinkers, as this will mean that your average 2l cola will go up by almost R2, it will lead to people buying less sugary drinks for their children. This sugar tax applies to cordials as well as carbonated beverages.https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2017/12/20/Sugar-taxes-The-global-picture-in-2017?utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=OnSite&utm_campaign=copyright

This is a step in the right direction to reducing obesity in children.

Children belong in the kitchen

This still hasn’t explained my statement of ‘children belong in the kitchen’.

On your next school run, get your children to count the fast food outlets that you pass on your way from school to home, then let them count the number of restaurants. How long was your journey, and how many did they count?

Children belong in the kitchen 13
How many fast food places are there?

Now watch for the fast food adverts on TV during their favourite shows. How many were there?

Name that veg!

Here’s a tough one, take them with you on your next vegetable shopping trip. This was probably the worst part about having small children, going to the store with them. The refrains, ‘Can I have’, ‘I want’ and ‘I need’ still echo in my head and my children are all teenagers.

This assignment is for parents and children, so maybe take your partner with. See how many fresh fruits and vegetable you can identify? Obviously the younger they are the less they will be able to name. Parents how many could you name, have you ever tasted them and do you know how to prepare them?

This is why I say children belong in the kitchen. Learning to peel and cut potatoes for mashed potato instead of buying powdered potatoes or ones that come with fried chicken and gravy or as a hash brown on the side of your burger order, will teach them about the vegetable, how to prepare and enjoy it in a way that is healthy and delicious.

Children belong in the kitchen 14
Children belong in the kitchen Photo by Hannah Tasker on Unsplash

Carrot salad, coleslaw, potato salad are easy to make for slightly older children but the younger ones can wash the veg so that they are ready for cooking or peeling.

What do vegies look like?

Having children in the kitchen to learn what vegetables look like in their original state, helps them to learn to identify vegetables as well as fresh herbs used to flavour the cooking.  Having them help with the making of those vegetables encourages them to try out their flavours .

Most of my children eat a variety of vegetables that are often unknown to adults. Things like beetroot, eggplant, parsnips and turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale, Brussel sprouts, celery, rocket. They know the smell of fresh basil and mint, of coriander and thyme, rosemary and oregano.

Meal Prep
Do you know your fruit and veg?

The older ones have even been known to request to try such vegetables as calabash and kohlrabi and even a madumba.  Not all of the requests have turned out successfully and some are definitely an acquired taste.  Edamame beans were a definite ‘no no’

The benefits

Getting children to help in the kitchen also has a few other benefits.

  1. Quality time, for working mom’s, or even individual children assigned to a different night of the week to help.
  2. Basic hand washing and food hygiene. A chance for both of you to learn together on how to prepare and store raw foods safely and how to reduce illness and infection.
  3. Developing the senses, taste, smell and touch. Listening to instructions and reading recipes.

Taking them with to the store and getting them to choose the vegetables required also helps with learning colours and for little ones describing the shapes.

Let children help with meal planning as this will get them excited about the meals ahead. It teaches planning skills. They know what’s for dinner and now can plan what prep is needed to get the meal to the table.

Do your children help in the kitchen? How early do you think it is possible to get them involved?

There’s a vegetarian living in my house!

Prawn citrus salad

There’s a vegetarian living in my house!

One of the members of our home is a vegetarian and the rest are all big meat eaters.  This in itself would not be too much of an issue but she is also not exactly a fan of fruit and vegetables!

Beef Wellington
Renamed Beef Waterloo. 

As a teenager, in the olden days, as the children remind me, I did the same thing! I still, as an adult, don’t eat a lot of fruit and while I do eat my veggies I am still not crazy about them.   I do, however, eat meat, fish and chicken.

Meal planning has become even more important in order to ensure that everyone in the house gets the nutrition and balanced diet they need.

So now we are trying low carbs/no carbs at night, with a vegetarian whose favourite food is rice!

It’s a challenge

I love a good challenge and this is it!  New recipes have to be found and tried and new flavours tested!

While it is still cold here in South Africa (anything below 22C for me is cold), thick soups are on the menu for ‘after school’ lunches. Minestrone, butternut, French onion and tomato soups are some of the choices. Vegetable lasagna and spaghetti with cheese and tomato are some of my other menu choices.

Deconstruction

Deconstructed dishes for dinner are needed to cover everyone’s tastes and preferences. Since I do not run a restaurant and do not want to cook 3 different meals, deconstructed works best.

A deconstructed dish is typically a dish that has been broken down into individual ingredients. For example, cottage pie would be served as mince and mash potato and bolognaise would then be spaghetti and mince. Some meals are easier to deconstruct than others.

The fun is in creating the concept. It is easy to deconstruct a burger where each person can create their own by having all the toppings separately, however a lasagna would present a challenge.

The way I do this is to look at a recipe and then see if you can divide and cook the ingredients into individual components that still have the taste and flavor of the original. Thank you to my favourite TV show, ‘Master Chef Australia’, for showing me how.

If you enjoy cooking like I do, then half the fun is in inventing the ‘revised’ recipe. If you don’t enjoy cooking, then it is better to find recipes that have clear and easy layers that can be served separately.

I would love to hear from you about any recipes you have served deconstructed and why.  I would also love to make any of your tried and tested vegetarian recipes!

Why you need a calendar?

Family Calendar

Organised Chaos Calendars

Creating a calendar for the family, helps avoid the clashing of schedules. I know in our house we often seem to go for ages with nothing and then 5 events on one day.

How many do you have?

If your school has 20 children in a class and you have 3 children that could potentially be 60 birthday parties! There are only 52 weeks in a year. This is bound to result in clashes. We haven’t even started with the adults yet.

Let’s cut down to a family with only two children, plus two parents who each have one sibling and two parents. The parents’ siblings also have two children this now takes family birthdays to 16 birthdays for family alone. Granted not everyone is going to have a party, but you still need to keep track of milestones. Things like anniversaries and major birthdays.

Extra Murals

Now add in extra murals, and possibly concerts or competitions that go with the extra murals. School sports days and exhibitions that need to be attended, work functions or training that you need to be at and you can begin to see the importance of a family calendar.

Remember you need to add in dentist, doctor and other appointments to the calendar as well and suddenly your calendar is full.

My family calendar not only has birthdays and anniversaries on it, it also includes Jewish holidays and the getting sorted plan, plus my meal planning blog ideas. School holidays add vacations need to be written on so that you don’t double bookings.

Colour Coding

To keep track I use different colours for different events. As all my children are teenagers, we have fewer parties but more social events. I use a write and wipe wall calendar and use a permanent marker for events that are not going to change. Birthdays, anniversaries, Jewish Holidays and school terms are all in permanent marker. I use a second colour for meal planning (blog ideas and clients planning), and for Getting Sorted, and another for parties and special events.

Family Calendar
The family calendar has all the important information on it.

One of the most important aspects of this calendar is to update it regularly. Put it in a place where everyone in the household can see it.

NB

I also have emergency and important phone numbers in permanent marker on my calendar.

Are you on the Facebook group, why not join us if you haven’t yet? https://www.facebook.com/groups/gettingsorted/

Do you have a family calendar? I would love for you to share your ideas with us.

Never Ever Again!

Never Ever Again! 16

Never again! Never again will I try to do anything but monthly planning and shopping!

My trial!

Over the last two months I decided to try out weekly and fortnightly meal planning and shopping and I hated it and so did my family.

I forgot to plan the meals; I forgot to load the shopping onto the online site and I had to do a week’s worth of shopping either on a Sunday, or worse, after work.

Monthly menu plan

I have said this over and over and people who know me, know that I HATE the COLD!!!

Weekly or Monthly?

This weekly shopping thing was a nightmare! I either had to shop after work or on a Sunday morning, when all I wanted to do was go home and get warm.

The result of this was that half the time whatever meal I had planned, I didn’t have the ingredients needed because I hadn’t yet been to the shops. Now I had to go digging in the cupboard where I barely had any ingredients because I hadn’t been shopping; now I had to find something nutritious to cook for my family to eat.

When the cupboard is bare
When the cupboard is bare

In between all of this cold and chaos, my mom got very ill and, just as she got better, I hurt my knee and was on crutches for a week. I was stressed out, in pain and cold and then was still expected to go shopping!

Reluctant cooks

I do have children old enough to actually cook something but, let’s be realistic – getting a reluctant teenager to do anything is a ‘mission impossible’.

One almost set fire to my kitchen after leaving the kitchen to do something else and forgot the food on the stove. I blew the budget by getting take out twice in one month, just to avoid the irritation of it all.

Getting distracted while cooking-reluctant chef
Getting distracted while cooking-reluctant chef

School lunches were interesting, with one lunch being bread with homemade mayonnaise and homemade pickles; the real surprise was that they actually liked it.

Sanity is bound to return

Everything is back to normal at last.  So now I want to know how often do you shop? How often would you like to shop? I would love to hear from you as to what meal planning and shopping tips you would like to learn about and what tips you have to share with us?

Dining time or is it?

Dining in

For many of us, the dining room is a multi-purpose area, it is used for homework and in my case it is also used for teaching a jewellery class and occasionally an office, and this is especially true when I need to spread out.

I previously wrote in January, about creating homework space in your dining room. The morning launch!

My dining room table is the first large, flat surface handy when you get into the house, so my family has a habit of dumping their bags there and then having to clear them off when it is time for supper.

Eating together

As a rule we all have supper together every night, except Saturday and Sunday nights, no cell phones or other electronic devices are allowed and you have to spend at least 30 minutes at the table, this is a new concept I introduced a 18 months ago and was a little difficult to enforce in the beginning but they have all learnt, my kids are older so this is a reasonable expectation, my children also discovered that they actually like each other a little!

If your dining room is the catch area for just about everything, then it is important that it be easy to clear or at least well organised. The hardest part will be training your family.

Recently when we were redoing the floors in the lounge, my dining room became the storage area for the lounge furniture and everything else we had in it and we had to eat in the kitchen on a trestle table. It was a little bit of a tight squeeze, but a fun adventure none the less and thankfully only for a few days.

What my dining room looked like during the floor upgrade
What my dining room looked like during the floor upgrade

What’s the purpose?

As I said,  I use the dining room table for teaching my jewellery class, as the room where I keep all the beads is also part of my son’s room and privacy aside, it is too small an area to fit more than 1 person at a time (also I am embarrassed to say, it is very overcrowded and looks like a hoarders nest, so now not even one person can fit in it), I have a box to put the tools and beads that are needed for  whatever project my class is currently working on, and after each class everything goes in to the box till the next class.

Teaching a jewellery class
Teaching a jewellery class

The spread

When I am planning the meals for my clients and for my family, I need to spread myself out; I just have to pack everything up in time for supper, so it is important that you have something to put everything into to make it easier when you need to tidy up.

If you need to keep things in the dining room, and this may be especially true for moms that home-school or in a home with limited rooms and space, I would suggest some storage that either has a door or a cover, so that when you want to use your dining room for entertaining, all the books are out of sight.

under counter storage and baskets
under counter storage and baskets

My dining room set has a matching dresser/sideboard, where I store my smart dinner service (I use a separated dinner service for Sabbath).  Some people are able to store their table cloths there; others have them stored in a linen cupboard.

The cover up

When was the last time you counted your smart cutlery and crockery? Over the years I have lost a few pieces, some forks to the dustbin I am sure and plates have been broken, but what about those table cloths? Do you know how many you have? I have a few in different sizes as I have a table that can be closed down to seat 4 or opened to seat 16, I only have 12 chairs though.

Use your fifteen minutes to sort out the different sizes, to check for stains and tears that can be repaired and those that can’t.

Do you have any tablecloths for tables you no longer own? I do, so I will use my 15 minutes for that.

What you got?

Your dinner service needs looking after too, as I said, I have one service that I use only on Sabbath and then another that I use for every day, a lot of plates have chips or cracks, that make them no longer safe to use. Inspect your crockery and your drinking glasses, cups and mugs for cracks and chips, even your oven ware, a crack weakens the ceramic/porcelain and poses a risk of shattering if you pour something hot into it. I also have never bought a set of crockery for myself, I was given one set as a wedding present and I have been given my other sets by my mother in law, who no longer needs or uses  them.

Do you have antique plates or cups, are they ever used or are they on display?

A template for school

A template for school 18

One of my life saving tools for planning my menus is my template. I always mention this when I talk about drawing up your menu plan.

To me this is the first step; it has helped me in numerous ways as I do meal plans for four families, all with different likes and dislikes, allergies and age differences.

How do you go about drawing up your template? The first thing you need to consider is what meals your template has to cover. For me it is school lunches and dinner. Today I am discussing how I came up with my school lunch template.

This menu plan has breakfast, lunch and supper on
This menu plan has breakfast, lunch and supper on

Why a template for school?

The reason for a school lunch template is that my girls all eat different things.  However, it started with the previous school where they were in, as it had rules about what foods you were allowed to send to school.

School lunch is now a little easier as there are no restrictions and they finish reasonably early.  My oldest daughter is home before 2pm and the two younger ones are home before 3pm where they previously only finished school at 3pm.

Other things you need to take into consideration are what kind of day they are having at school.  Is there physical training during school, do they have after school sports, do they have a sports match, do they come home between extra murals? All these things must play a part in creating your template.  For example, on days where they have sports matches, you want to try and give them healthy carbohydrates which will turn to energy not sugar. I am personally against energy drinks for young children but I know kids like them especially with the bright colours they come in.

Choosing the right carbs makes all the difference
Choosing the right carbs makes all the difference

On days when there is going to be sport, foods with legumes such as chickpeas (this is humus, when not in whole kernel form) should be added as well as dairy and whole grain pastas.  Wholegrain bread, like rye bread, should be used for sandwiches. If the physical training during school is on different days for different children, you can see why a template would be necessary.

Options for school lunches vary:

Monday – I usually have vegetarian sausages, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber sticks and snap peas with a dipping sauce such as 1000 Island dressing, curried mayonnaise. I add pretzels as their snack, plus a fruit.

Tuesday – One has cream cheese on rye, one has peanut butter on a seed bagel and one has chocolate spread on brown bread, fruit and a very small salad.

Wednesday – Pasta salad, I send with fruit and usually a small chocolate or biscuit

Thursday – cold meat sandwiches or cold meat and salad, with popcorn and fruit bites (either nuggets or Safari)

Friday – Cheese and tomato sandwiches, as they do a little sport on Friday’s.

It is sometimes difficult to find a good balance as not all the children eat the same fruit and one of my daughters pretty much only eats grapes and strawberries! One only eats green apples and the other only pink apples!

Having a template definitely helps as this way they will have a say in what they get for school.  My husband gets the same lunch as the kids, but he is much easier as he eats anything you put in front of him!

Branded magnetic menu board

Do you have a plan for school lunches? Who packs the lunches? Do the lunch boxes have a well balanced meal every day? Do your kids get tuck shop/ cafeteria food instead of a lunch box and what are they eating from the tuck shop/cafeteria? I would love to hear from you.