Recipes

Back to School: Calm The Chaos

Ask any parent, and the last few weeks of August and beginning of September are likely listed as one of the most stressful times of the year in any household. Not only do you have the added expense of back to school supplies, clothing, and fees but you also have some anxiety and bubbly excitement in the kids (OK, in the parents too!).

School supply shopping complete! But which one of us is the most excited, I wonder?

The best thing you can do to help manage that back to school stress is to be prepared. Don’t leave the back to school supply shopping for the last minute – you’re bound to run into more frazzled parents at that point which also doesn’t help – and try to get your household into the back to school routine in the week prior to school starting, if you can.

I keep a large family calendar on the back of the door to the garage, so that everyone sees it as they start their day (or grab me an extra jug of milk from the garage-fridge, as the case may be!) Having a central place where everyone can see what’s coming up in the next day or week helps everyone stay on the same page, with hopefully no surprises. A busy week can be overwhelming for all of us and knowing what’s ahead can help calm some of that anxiety.

Sleep in hugely important and worth focusing in on in that week before school starts. While children up to third grade may require up to 12 hours per night, even high schoolers still need a solid eight to 10 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This advice applies to parents as well; ensure mom and dad are both getting to bed at a reasonable time so that you’re ready for busy school mornings again as well.

Did you know? A recent study conducted by Catelli found that about half of Canadian parents feel at least one pressure when it comes to ensuring they’re feeding their family good, healthy meals. Parents are most concerned with pressure from their own family or friends (30%) or the media (28%). However, according to the same poll: 88% of Canadian parents also admitted that they feel better when they focus on what works best for their family instead of comparing themselves to others. I love this! We need to do what works for our family, and I know in my own household that comes down to finding recipes that are easy, quick, nutritious and that the kids will love. Who cares if you have spaghetti and meat-sauce once a week, as long as the family loves it, everyone is happy!

Plan ahead by making and freezing meals for school and busy weeknight dinners now. Even one extra casserole in the freezer each week, or a double batch of spaghetti sauce portioned into freezer bags will help a ton in the months to come. Need some inspiration? Here are some of my favorite meals that freeze really well:

  1. Egg Muffins
  2. Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
  3. Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
  4. Slow Cooker Chili
  5. Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
  6. Loaded Baked Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole

This week on Instagram Stories, I shared how I prepared an easy recipe for Chicken Mushroom Fettuccine. It’s sort of a “cheat” recipe because there’s no creamy alfredo sauce involved at all, but it sure gets the taste buds poppin’ and gets gobbled up by the kids. You can put this recipe together in no time (even in the morning before school and then just pop in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner later). When dinner time rolls around, it bakes in the oven for 1 hour, while in the last 15 minutes or so you simply boil the fettucine. We like using Catelli Smart Fettuccine because it tastes just like traditional white pasta, but offers the added benefits of fibre (with 32% of your daily recommended fibre intake per 85 g serving, it’s an easy way to add fibre into your family’s diet and no one will notice!)

5.0 from 9 reviews
Chicken Mushroom Fettuccine
 
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cans condensed mushroom soup
  • ½ an onion, sliced
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms or 1 cup fresh sliced
  • linguini noodles
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish.
  2. Cover with mushroom soup, sliced onions and mushrooms, turning to coat. Add pepper.
  3. Cover with tin foil and bake in for 1 hour at 350F.
  4. Cook fettuccini according to package directions when chicken is almost ready.
  5. Serve chicken on top of noodles, I allow for plenty of extra sauce with this recipe! Enjoy!

I’m a part of the #CatelliFamilies network, and Catelli generously has offered another giveaway for my readers! Someone is going to win a Catelli Pasta prize package valued at $25 worth of yummy pasta goodness! To enter, simply fill in your name and email address in the form below and click BEGIN! Then leave a comment on this post sharing how you help calm the chaos in your household for back to school! Don’t forget the bonus entries available for things like following Catelli on Instagram and Twitter!

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  • I prep everything I can the night before to keep morning chaos at a minimum because it’s the worse kind of chaos when you’re not a morning person.

  • Organization and preparation planning ahead is the key to help calm the chaos for back to school. Start by getting back into a regular bed time, preparing meals in advance, updating calendar with after school activities, and then enjoy the rest of the holidays with the kids relaxing and having fun!

  • I don’t have kids in school but I always planned meals, lunches and snacks ahead of time and made sure on the weekends I got out for groceries so I would not run out of things

  • with my oldest going into grade one and my middle daughter starting JK and a one month old baby….i can just imagine how crazy my days will be in the morning. The only thing i can think of to be as organized as possible is to have everything ready the night before. have outfits laid out, bags by the front door and lunches packed and good to go

  • To calm the chaos one needs to prepare the night before. Lunch done, school bags packed and an outfit picked out.

  • We have been talking a lot about it, and we have a count down on the fridge. We are also ready so there will be no last minute scrambles!

  • This year I let my daughter (grade 11) do her own back to school clothes shopping and supplies! Gave her a budget and i am so impressed with her choices, took the strain off me choosing things out for her! Giving her independence and how to manage money! worked out great. For school days I make the lunch night before to save some time!

  • I look after the grandkids the week before school so they have to get up earlier, get into a routine and the junior kindergarten child got snacks in his new lunch box so he knew how to open it up and deal with all the new containers.

  • I kept the same schedule through out the summer when the girls were younger, and when school starts I liked to prepare the lunches the night before and have the clothing ready, makes for an easier morning

  • I like the idea of planning meals ahead of time and freezing them to pull out for busy nights. That’s a great idea and time saver!

  • I plans meals ahead, I get the kids to take showers the night before cause I found they were late for school if taken in the morning, and I get the kids to get their clothes ready the night before too

  • Plan ahead. Also pack things the night before and layout your outfit so there is less of a mad scramble in the morning.

  • My favourite thing is a calendar for sure. If the family can see what is ahead for the week i think it really helps. Take a few minutes right when the kids get home to empty school bags and sign or get things ready for the morning.

  • I don’t have kids in school anymore but I have my own kindergarten classroom so I need to be prepared always. The biggest way for me to help relieve the back to school stress is menu planning.

  • I make sure everyone has their backpack ready with supplies. We start bed time routine back about week before school starts. I make sure that we have our lunchpails and reusable water bottles ready as well

  • packing a lunch the night before is about as organized as I get, but it seems to work!!
    Also setting a calendar with shower days on it for my almost 9 year old boy is a MUST.

  • I discuss with my kids what options there are for lunches for the week and I make extra when making meals and the kids have left overs for lunch.

  • I create schedules and make lunches portions on the weekend for the week, put them in the freezer and defrost them the night before for the next day.

  • We make sure everything is prepared and ready the week before. And we start an early bed time routine so they can get used to it

  • My chaos happens in the morning so I have a breakfast plan made up with a list of what breakfasts to make so i don’t stand in front of the fridge, wondering what the heck I’m making for the kids before the head off to school.

  • We calm the chaos by preparing ourselves as much as possible the night before each day. So lunches get made, clothes get picked out, bathing gets done, forms get signed, backpacks get packed etc. all the night before, so the only thing we need to do in the morning is wake up, put on the clothes that are already laid out, eat breakfast, wash faces, brush hair and teeth, put lunch into the bags and walk out the door. We usually only give ourselves 30 minutes from waking up to leaving the house each morning, and it’s more than enough time because we don’t have much to do – it makes for a calm start to our day. And since we are so organized, we can sleep in, which means a really good amount of sleep for the kids. They go to bed between 7 and 8 each school night (depending on activities), and don’t have to wake up until around 8am (also depending on activities; and this year it will be earlier because one of my kids is starting a new school which starts earlier so that will be hard at first but we will hopefully adjust quickly!; I am not a morning person…).

  • I always made lunches the night before and reminded the kids of any special activities at school the night before so we were more organized in the morning.

  • I like your calendar on the garage door idea. We do a lot of post it notes stuck here and there around the house and also on the door for all to see as they are leaving the house. I like to make sure that arrangements for rides after school to various activities have been arranged the day before so as to avoid chaos the next day.

  • this is our first year of school entering Kindy! the chaos is real and i think as we begin gradual entry the panic will become real. Ive been making list to get myself ready and reminding myself that a nice hot cup of coffee is in my near future!

  • I’m all about prepping the night before – lunch ready to go in the fridge and clothes picked out! I hate mornings! I’ve also been making egg muffins for a year now – it’s so nice to have a nutritious breakfast ready for me, otherwise I will eat cereal or a bagel EVERY DAY. Thanks for the chance to win – I love pasta!

  • Meal prepping is HUGE not only for back to school but we have a baby due in October and preparing and freezing and having a meal plan can really help me !

  • I try to calm the chaos by being organized and prepare in advance whenever I can. I try to respond to school forms or whatever right away, as I find if I put them off they get forgotten about. We have a huge calendar to use plus a school calendar, to stay on track of events.

  • We don’t have little ones in school yet, but i think getting whatever you can ready the night before helps a lot with the chaos!

  • We just kind of go with the flow most of the time. But I do like to prep lunch items and freeze them to help calm the chaos. Thanks!

  • I try to be organized and stick to a schedule for everything (from homework time, to screen time, to meal planning and beyond).

  • Meal planning is a big sanity-saver. I take it to Sheldon Cooper levels, with a menu plan that stays exactly the same (except for anything can happen Thursday) all season long. Same menu, same grocery list, no chaos.