Back to School with Mom in the Know

We are back to school and quickly settling into our routines.  Luckily, my kids have not be overwhelmed with homework yet as they ease back into the school year.  I know it is coming   and this year I am going to be prepared.


I want to make sure that my kids are set up for success with a calm and successful routine that may even, at times, include a little fun.  I have some great strategies.

Create a designated work space

Having a designated area for your child to do their homework will help get them into the homework mindset and stay focused. Have this area in a quiet space in your home with no distractions such as TV, video games or computers. Keep in mind that it’s best to find a space that is easily accessible if they need help or guidance.

I did a show on this a few years ago.  Watch the video for inspiration or read the accompanying blog here.




Establish a routine

Kids thrive on routines so establishing a routine from the start of the school year is imperative. Figure out what works best for your children, whether that means doing their homework right after school, having a little downtime and then doing their homework or tackling it after dinner. Try and keep this homework time consistent.

If you find your kids are in the zone right after school, be sure offer them a protein-packed snack to help them stay concentrated until they finish the work.


Use incentives

Incentives are a great strategy to get your children doing their homework without any nagging or fighting. This simple system allows them to look forward to something such as being able to watch TV or use their electronics once their homework is complete. Try to involve your children when creating an incentive system to find things that they would like to work towards.


Communicating with your children and their teachers is the key when it comes to a successful homework routine. Be in the know with your child’s homework assignments and be sure to know the expectations of their teacher at the beginning of the year.  A memo board or work calendar in the homework area can be a key tool for this.

I am really looking forward to this school year and I hope you are too.  If you have an ideas or strategies to help ease the homework issues at your home, share them with me here.

Five Minute Back to School Lunches


Make it a Muffin

Kids love muffins.  Make them bite sized for easier handling.  Try these recipes.

Morning Glory

One Bite Apple

Sandwich Bar

Lay out the lunch fixin’s for the kids to make their own.

  • Bread (buns, wraps, bread)
  • Cold Cuts
  • Cheese
  • Veggies

Tip:  Not big on bread.  Make a lettuce wrap.


Veggie and Fruit Kebobs

Cut up in season fruit and vegetables and allow your children to choose their own. Have them make up their own snacks of veggies and dip or put together a sweet fruit salad. Make it fun by giving them skewers to make a kebob with any of the fruit, veggie or sandwich items.

Super Soups

In a pinch?  Go ahead and use a low sodium canned soup and add some lean meats and in season veggies to that soup.

My kids love this Leek and Potato Soup.  It is great at this time with added sweet corn off the cob.

Pack it Up

Choose the right containers to pack up lunches.  Thermos brand containers are great for keeping things warm or cold.  Bento boxes are ideal.



Feeding minds



Setting up for Success



Study Box

Everyone gets new shoes for back to school. This year we’ve decided to personalize our shoe boxes and use the for our study boxes. All the tools we need to complete homework ar
e in the box: pens, pencils, calculators, French/English dictionaries and thesaurus. We used the school supply list provide from our school to make sure filled our boxes witheverything we would need for the school year.

If my kids find another spot to do homework, their toolbox can go with them.

MITK tip.  Have the kids personalize their duo tangs or decorate their pencils; they take more ownership of it!Save

Visual Aids are great for Your Children and their Workspace

For the youngest grades

  • alphabet letters
  • numbers
  • recognition words that they are learning

For the older grades

  • have a homework duo tang  that could include helpful information that will help build strengths
  • multiplication chart
  • math formulas
  • grammar rules

…just as a few suggestions

MITK tip.  There are many books and workbooks out there that reinforce essential skills and develop critical thinking for children. One of my favourites is 365 Simple Science Experiments with Everyda Materials from Scholastic . We have a blast doing it together. Try to get involved in your Child’s learning.


Have a calendar near by. It will be a perfect tool for recording when assignments are due, field trips as well as all other extra-curricular activities your child might be involved in. The calendar is a perfect organizational tool as well as a keepsake at the end of the year to take a look back at all of your child’s accomplishments.

MITK tip. Most schools have a newsletter with important dates, add them to your calendar as soon as you receive them. Get rid of the paper trail!






Label It

Mabels Labels has all the labels needed to identify kids belongings and keep their things out of the lost and found.

Art Portfolio

We can now keep all of our little artists artwork! Take two prices of Bristol board and staple them together keeping the top open. I have been collecting the artwork and reusing it as wrapping paper, cards, and giving out pieces to family. The ‘great works of art’ I frame it.

Backpacks – It is worth the search for a good one

A few of my favourites:

JWorld New York have a great line of backpacks on wheels. Some models have the wheels light up.

Heys Plaid Backpack, featured in the Ottawa Citizen, has a distinct plaid fabric. The curved shoulder straps wrap around your shoulders securely and the foam padding cushion the weight of the pack on your shoulders. There is an interior organizer for your cell phone, pens, and accessories.

The OBUS FORME is another great choice. It is one of the few backpacks that offer a waist strap.
All are available at Capital City Luggage



Back to school, back to our routines and back to the neighbourhoods we call home.


There is no time like the fall to remind us of home – the streets we live on, the shops we frequent and the places we meet.  Fall is brimming with tradition and this urban Mom is eager to get her family in full swing.

A recent trip around my neighbourhood brought me to the Field House at Parkdale Market.  This is an amazing food boutique where everything is grown and produced locally.  Fall comfort cooking with my kids is a wonderful tradition, especially with fresh local products.  Have a look at my tip sheet for cooking with kids for ideas.

The red and orange hues of the season warm the windows of shops and eateries.  As we pass The Collected Works, I notice friends gathering over coffee and families looking over the collection of new fall books.   My current Raise a Reader campaign is supported by The Collected Works.  My kids and I love to read together and I look forward to those cold fall days curled up with them around a book.

Here are some books we love:

How do Apples Grow ~ Betsy Maestro

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf ~ Lois Ehlert

Too Many Pumpkins ~ Linda White

Johnny Appleseed ~ Reeve Lindbergh

The window at Thyme and Again is eye-catching.  Stepping inside, we are greeted by a wide array of fall decorations for the home and table.  I am tempted by a poster of their fall Thanksgiving catering menu – mouthwatering.  The kids picked out festive candles and napkins for our Thanksgiving table.  We will work on some crafts over the next few weeks to complete the look.  Here are some fall craft ideas.

Summer is gone for another year.  Camps and cottages, holidays and travels are over for another year.  Fall is upon us and it is good to be home!


Fall into Freshness


Prepare for back to school with fresh food ideas




Stuffed Tomatoes

Combine cooked Ontario corn kernels with diced Ontario tomato, sweet green pepper, green onion and minced fresh parsley. Split fresh Ontario tomatoes in half, hollow out and fill with mixed ingredients.  Add a splash of your favourite vinaigrette dressing.


Veggie Fried Rice

Sauté cooked rice with diced Ontario onion, carrot, sweet pepper and zucchini, season with soy sauce.

Variation: You can add a any of these delicious ingredients to to Cous-cous, curly pasta or Ontario romaine lettuce


Bagels ‘n More Ontario

Top bagel halves with cream cheese and thinly sliced Ontario apples, pears, or cucumbers.


Cucumber Round

Top thick slices of Ontario cucumber with tuna salad.


Rice is Nice

(for those who are gluten intolerant)

Top rice cakes with sweetened cream cheese and thin slices of Ontario muskmelon, apple or pear. Add a dash of cinnamon if you like.


Pepper Wedge Ole

Combine softened cream cheese with some drained salsa sauce to taste. Fill wedges of Ontario sweet red or green peppers with the mixture.



Instant Corn Chowder

Add fresh Ontario corn kernels to cream of potato soup. Simmer 4 – 5 minutes.


Soup’s On

Add shredded Ontario Carrot and finely chopped Broccoli and Zucchini to chicken noodle soup.



Yoghurt Fool

Stir chopped Ontario seasonal fruit into plain yogurt.  Add Ontario liquid honey to taste and sprinkle with granola.


Cottage Cheese Delight

Cover cottage cheese with slices of seasoned fresh Ontario apple, pear, nectarines or plums.


Cheese and Fruit Skewers

Feed skewers with Ontario Cheddar and apple and pear pieces.



Instant Corn Chowder

Add fresh Ontario corn kernels to cream of potato soup. Simmer 4 – 5 minutes.


Soup’s On

Add shredded Ontario Carrot and finely chopped Broccoli and Zucchini to chicken noodle soup.



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