Our Top Three Back to School Tips for Stepping out of Summer and Into the Classroom

A family making dinner together in their kitchen.

As Summer is making its way out the door, it means that the school year is just around the corner, so let’s take stock of our perceptions about what back to school could mean for your family. Do you remember in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when the students are all sitting in their High School classroom, eyes glazed over, mouths open in boredom, everyone clearly not wanting to be there? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your kids will be just like that! The start of the school year doesn’t have to be a chore or a dread. It can be a transition full of ease, flow, and even excitement. If you’re a little skeptical of this concept, let us help you see the possibility more clearly by offering our top three back to school tips for how to help smooth over this sometimes rocky annual transition. 

Start the school routine early

One key component of the back to school transition is the actual change in routine. Many kids have a fairly free schedule during the summer, or a shortened, more flexible schedule, at least. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that it can be a pretty jarring switch to all of a sudden have to wake up early and spend all day in a classroom. Furthermore, if your child has any additional needs, or if you’re a dual home family and your parenting plan is changing at the start of the school year, it can become an even higher stress situation for them. One way to limit this stress for the kiddos is to start their school schedule early! Begin the school year wake-up and bedtime routine a week or two before school begins, to get them back into the habit and to make it less of a big deal on the first day of school. 

Table Talk 

With a significant transition like going back to school, our mental health can be affected, and understandably so. However, we can reduce the negative impact it has on us by processing the transition ahead of time and mentally preparing for it. You can lend a hand in this, just by sparking some good conversation. Remember us encouraging “table talk” topics for your family meals? You can use that ritual as an opportunity to talk with your family about the upcoming school year. Some ideas for table talk questions: what was your favorite part about your experience at school last year? What’s one thing you’re really excited about for this school year? Questions like those will get them thinking about the upcoming school year in a positive light, and might also bring up some of their concerns, which can be good to discuss as well. 

Meal planning

Let us help you! Make dinner time something that doesn’t stress you out this time of the year. Plan ahead to have Dream Dinners and/or other quick and easy meal options for your family in the week leading up to the beginning of school, as well as during the first week of classes. Schedule time a couple of weeks before the school year to do some meal planning and buy any groceries you’ll need, then put the meal list of what you have planned up in your house so your family can see what’s coming and when. Plan some of your family’s favorites too, to help everyone have some comfort foods to look forward to during this potentially chaotic time of year. 

 

One common thread with all three tips? The three P’s: Prepare, Plan, and Prepare some more! Be intentional about your back to school transition. A little planning can go a long way to keeping your whole family happy, amidst the change of pace and schedule. The bottom line is, you got this! 

Spring Cleaning: More than Just Windex and Disinfectants

When most of us hear “spring cleaning” we think it’s about opening the windows, letting fresh air in and then heading into the deepest darkest crevices of our closets and drawers. The pantry? Oh my. That’s a scary place.

We’re going to leave you to those nooks and crannies, and instead focus on some other spring cleaning tips. Sure, a clean, almost-dust-free house is the first step to clarity and stress relief, however we’re thinking it’s time to go deeper.

  • Now’s the time for some self-care. Shed winter’s layer on your body by sloughing off dead skin with masks or exfoliants. When your skin is glowing and wonderful, apply a layer of light moisturizer.
  • Enjoy the change of seasons and get outside as a family to enjoy nature. Pick an activity like walking, hiking or bicycling and simply move about in the fresh air. Enjoy some fun conversation, and take the time to plan some summer fun.
  • Detox from social media by unplugging from your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram for as long as it takes to simply feel better when you re-engage. Social media can wreak havoc on our sanity when we compare our lives to the escapades, dinners, children and adventures of all those people with whom we are connected. Unplugging quiets that urge to compare ourselves to others on a seemingly endless stream of images and stories.
  • Start journaling to reflect and find gratitude. You can journal mornings or evenings, or both. Just take a few minutes to express how you feel and relax knowing this is probably one of the healthiest steps you can take to cleanse your soul.
  • Try drinking tea instead of coffee, or at least sit down for a cup of tea in the afternoon. Tea has many health benefits, from the type of tea and herbs you use to the calming effect it has on your nervous system. One cup of chamomile, a good view and quiet is just what your busy body needs to calm itself.
  • Tap into your creativity. Creativity can extend into so many different aspects of your life. From gardening to painting, building or playing music. Reach deep to find your creative passion and let your heart and mind sing.

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The Power of the Dinner Table

Family enjoying dinner together

If Jeff Bezos, the billionaire Amazon mogul, can find time to eat with his family, we’re thinking there’s really nothing holding us back from doing the same.

We are all making a pact here at Dream Dinners to slow down in 2019. Sure, it’s easy to pack granola bars for breakfast in the car or throw an extra pack of snacks in the kids’ soccer bag. Really, at the end of the day, we just need to carve out some time to reconnect.

There have been myriad studies about the importance of nightly – or as close to nightly as possible – family dinners. Not only are they a way to unwind, relax and share stories, they have some substantial effects on the social and emotional development of children and lasting positive effects on adult relationships, as well.

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November #DinnerEffect

dinner-effect-open-logo-750x250

At Dream Dinners, our mission is to grow great kids by promoting the family dinner. We are working continuously to strengthen American families by bringing the homemade meal back to the dinner table. For more than a decade, we have work to change the lives of our guests with our Homemade, Made Easy offerings. 

Throughout the years we have heard many stories of sadness and hardship, but we continue to hear stories of joy, triumph and reasons to be thankful.

 

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Fill up your Summer Season with Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is the perfect time to focus on eating plenty of delicious, ripe seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with disease defying vitamins, minerals and fiber.  An adequate intake is good for your skin, immune system, digestion, and will help ward off high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Often our lifestyle goals focus on what not to eat; what if we tried the opposite? How about increasing our produce intake?

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Making Time for your Spouse

Men and women are a great mix aren’t we? We fall in love and want to be together every possible chance and then later we notice our differing interests take us apart. Being together often takes a compromise.

stephanie-vern-big-wheel-nightHere’s some ways I enjoy time with my spouse:

  •  If he’s doing a project, like working on the boat, I grab a book and just hang out by him.
  •  He loves the news more than I do, yet, we’ve made it a habit to record it on DVR and watch it together when we both get home. It always stirs up interesting conversation.
  • Even if I’m not interested in the sports he prefers, I make it a point to watch the last quarter of a game or the last 20 laps of Nascar. I’m learning to enjoy them too!
  • The best way we connect is by praying together regularly. We’re more vulnerable that way and it helps us feel supported by each other throughout the day.

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Go Green!

Family Wellness | March 14, 2014 | By

green vegetablesWe wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, why not eat green?

Dark green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that have the ability to boost immune function, support healthy eyes, skin and bones and fight conditions such as cancer, and heart disease. They’re low in calories and packed with nutrients. What’s not to like?

Here are some green vegetables that are great additions to your dinners.  All have something in common – they are all cruciferous vegetables (members of the cabbage family).

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Top Five Energy Boosters for Dreary Days

Family Wellness | February 21, 2014 | By

1. Be intentional about getting a good night’s sleep and, if needed during the day, take a short power nap.That coffee with dessert might have boosted your mood after dinner, but the caffeine likely disrupted your sleep. Lack of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep can make you feel sluggish and less motivated while decreasing your ability to focus. Try to maintain a regular sleep cycle and if your eyelids are dropping during the day, take a short nap. You’ll be energized and ready to concentrate after your zzzzzzs!

2. Eat a healthy diet and avoid skipping meals. Missed meals cause our bodies to crave sugar and eat more to resolve our slump than to prevent it. Don’t rely on excessive caffeine (over 500mg) and sugar to treat this problem. Their promising energy surge guarantees an energy drop later and you’re back where you started. To avoid this crazy cycle, choose nutritious snacks full of fiber and nutrients such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and granola bars such as ‘Kind’ or ‘Larabar’.

3. Fill up on water. Even mild dehydration can alter your energy level, mood, and mental well-being. Have a water bottle handy where ever you go. To keep it interesting, add fresh squeezed lemon, lime, or other fresh ingredients.

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2 Foundational Principles for Defeating Childhood Obesity

Are you Worried that your Kids are Headed Toward Obesity … before they Grow Up?

We’re a culture obsessed with media-glorified body images and yet our lifestyles are mostly sedentary with a high caloric intake. We live in a contradiction that’s challenging to win.  The grocery check-out highlights our dilemma with these two messages: (1) Follow these recipes and indulge, and (2) look like these super-skinny models. Research shows our health is the loser. Both children and adults are experiencing an obesity epidemic. 30% of American children are overweight or obese [i] and 35.7% of adults are obese [ii]. On top of that, our self-esteem wanes as we don’t meet the size and shape expectations we’ve accepted.

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Healthy Snacking

Family Wellness | January 3, 2014 | By

boy_peeling_orangeDream Dinners has you eating homemade meals at dinner time, but we want to help you avoid ‘famished-overeating’ by incorporating healthy snacks into your diet.

Why healthy snacks?  Because sugary snacks make you crave more sugar causing your blood sugar levels to vacillate like a yoyo.  Low blood sugar makes you feel hungry and therefore eat more.  That’s why you can eat a muffin and feel so hungry in only a couple of hours.

Fiber, protein, and unsaturated oils will slow digestion and help keep your metabolism stable. Fiber rich foods include whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, and lentils. You can find protein in lean meats, fish, jerky, low fat cheeses, nuts, eggs, and beans. If you eat something sweet, pair it with these other food that will slow its digestion.

You can stop the yo-yoing cycle by wisely choosing healthy snacks. Here are some of favorites from our Dream Dinners Home Office staff.

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