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Kids’ School Snacks

11 Mar

Who hates packing school snacks in the morning..trying to decide what to pack when you are still half asleep? Well, I do.

And I am too lazy to do it the night before. One day at a time !

Today, just a tip from my side for those days when you don’t have time to prepare something fresh like a sandwich or fruit.

I buy bulk for items that don’t have expiry dates.

I take a selection of items and re-package them in snack size suitable for my kids.

Putting a personal note takes hardly any extra time…but goes a long way putting a smile in their hearts when they open it at school !

Then I take a few of each kind and  put them together in one box in a drawer. For those mornings we are in a rush…or can’t think straight because it is too early.

Simply pull open the drawer and grab a packet to go. Even when mom not around, kids have easy access to take care of themselves for school snack. Done.

Have a nice day everybody !

Kiddies Go – kids helping clean up

22 Feb

Sometimes I find a lot of things on the floor…


…including my kids….

They tend to leave things ALL over the house ….

and it becomes simply an impossible task to carry each child’s items back to where it belongs.

Kids don’t generally clean up what they throw out or leave behind  – unless you MAKE them do it. Well, mine anyway…

Some claim they are too small, so they go on strike…….

and they may have a point.

But, kids can be helpers in the house too, to keep the house more organised and tidy.

They just need a little help. And something to make it a little more tangible other than just mom’s nagging !

Today I found these at Costco.

Got one in the colour of each child’s room.

I thought they were pretty dandy!

So, what to do with them?

I think they will be pretty handy.

Here’s what I plan to do.

Park them in the room you are busy cleaning up. Throw each kids’ belongings in their own cart and later when they are home…they can have the responsibility to get all the things in their own cart back to where it belong.

You can make them pick up their own toys and fill their own carts..but the problem is they are usually at school when most of the cleaning up happens !

They have wheels, are lightweight and easy carry along so little ones have no excuse ! They are pretty and it perfectly fits the criteria of “form meets function”.

Each child has his/ her own so it is easy to point out who is doing their bit and who not..and consequences/ rewards can be given based on empty/ overloaded carts !!

Find them at Costco

Kiddies Go ! Hooray ! Go Kiddies !!

Crowded House

7 Feb

Ever had the “joy” ?!  of managing a “kitty” for a group of people who all contribute and then share some resources like food or other household goods?

Today’s post is for those who have had the experience of sharing a house for an extended period, or even just a weekend breakaway, with relatives or a close group who had to co-share on food and accommodation. Everybody trying to be polite by what and how much they use…but somebody always feeling on the short end of the stick – a little grumpy that they pay more and eat less (never visa versa)… or an individual feeling he/she has the administrative monster on their shoulder to manage and collect the money should you all contribute and one buys for all???

If you have not done this… there is a very real chance that you might have to do this some time in your future…so, read on…here is my story and my solution which turned the craziness of a crowd and the crippling effect it had on the hostess and her leisure time, into a situation where we have found peace for all !!

I call it the DOT SYSTEM. This is the point where my family – if any of them read my blog, will switch off the computer and turn to the news on TV. They know it by now.

It’s boring – I know.

I don’t care.

I stand by it. Try it. It worked wonders for us. It still works.

This is how it came about:

I am living overseas as an expat. That means going home every year to catch up with family and friends.

We are in the fortunate position to have a holiday house which is unoccupied during the year and therefore available for us and our extended family whenever we pay a home country visit.

We love having the family over since this is the only time we get to spend time together. And they love coming over. And STAYING!

Here are just a few of them in the pool…

We would not have it any other way. But it gets hectic. REAL hectic. When you are at any given point , twenty plus people for 3 meals a day for a period of 3-4 weeks, it means a LOT of grocery shopping, a LOT of eating, a LOT of figuring out who needs to pay what….

As the owners of the house, we were  naturally the “hosts”..but our family are nice enough to know that everybody needs to contribute to the food when they stay for that long a period.

We all pitched in with money and I then bought groceries from the “kitty”. But , besides the fact that I, or any volunteer, crippled themselves with bags from the grocery shop…. it also meant that by the time you got home with the drinks, and twenty people sink into the supplies…an hour later much of it was depleted it became a never-ending re-curring situation of stocking up supplies.

Then came the DOT system. Very simple.

Every family (we are about 4 families staying in one place), buy their own groceries.

In the first instance – that took the load of ONE person to go shop all the time…so immediately the “shopping burden” shifted equally well to each family that is on vacation in stead of a few individuals.

Every family got assigned a pack of cheap dot stickers in a different colour.

As soon as the bags hit the counter, you put a dot on every single item in your assigned color. DONE.

My kids love putting the dots on the items, so this motivates them to help unpacking the groceries when I get home and “blue dot” them before I pack away our families’ supplies. And from that point on, my kids know that they can have ANYTHING in the house, as long as it has a blue dot. Even the little one who can not read names yet, knew to ask only for drinks or candy with blue dots on them.

Sounds simple, right? The trick is that you still want to do something “together”…and you are thinking – how “un” social to buy your own food and drinks when you go on a holiday together. And herein lies the secret…

The menu for each week (end) was planned and put up on public display. This required one morning of detailed planning to write down what we would need for each meal, but then everybody could go shop in their own time, enough for their own family and we still had the joy of sharing our meals together. Say for example – we would plan a BBQ – we would say – BBQ with lamb chops, a green salad, baked potatoes. Then everyone would buy only enough chops for his family, bring 3 potatoes if they are 3 people or 6 potatoes if mom knows everyone in her family eats 2 potatoes, and a few ingredients of your idea of a green salad. We found that we had a lot less waste, as every person had put in exactly how much his/ her family usually eats instead of one person trying to judge everyone’s appetite and then wasting the food in the end.

This system was initially greeted with some scepticism. But after one holiday of succesful implementation, it was cheered by everyone with great accolades !!

What great relief it was when I only had to do grocery shopping for 5 and not 25 people and when I did not have to answer “what can I bring from the shop/ add for dinner……” every time somebody went to town. I could relax about the food…everybody had put their contributions in comes dinner time and no more fuss trying to figure out who owes what on the food bill!! Each family has dedicated shelf space and basically everybody sticks to their own supplies….

There are certain items for which you don’t have space and it is not practical to have 4 of each for example MILK! Nobody wants to make coffee for the group and then have to pour in milk from 4 different containers. Those “shared” products are marked with its own unique dots – see the PINK dot in this picture. These are either sponsored by the host or paid from out of the small group fund.

This system got 10 DOTS in my records !!! And I am sure my family will agree.

Here, somebody liked it so much, they got a little carried away with it all and even “dotted” the sandwiches that were prepared to go on the grill?! Not that you need to go that far!

There are small little details that makes this system a winner and I would be happy to share those should you have any questions.

But I would like to hear if you have ever been faced with a crowded house and your solutions of making it a manageable win-win situation to deal with the food sharing ! Let’s learn from each other.

TIll next time.


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