Exhausted but happy, we rumbled into town last week under a dark, star-spotted sky and pulled into our new non-driveway driveway (it’s just gravel, with patches of grass peeking through). We finalized the purchase of our new-old house while we were traveling, which meant this was the first time we looked at this house as our house. Ours.

Over the 6,400 (sixty-four hundred!) miles of travel the past six weeks, Kyle and I talked and dreamed and hatched plans about the house: paint colors, moving walls, what goes where. And of course, what’s under the carpet? (The entire house was carpeted, even in the bathrooms and kitchen.)

But in the back of my mind this whole time, I’ve been thinking this: the renovations are an on-going project, yes, but really? The real project is making this our home. Our home base for a long-time, Lord willing, because while we still plan to travel, we want to come back to this sweet little house for years to come.

This has been a long time coming.

(More thoughts on this, soon.)

Tate painting the walls

Making this house a home isn’t so much about the paint colors as it is about the day-to-day living here, the rhythms and routines. The kids have already claimed which room is theirs, they’re imagining where their beds will go, and they’re eager for a new school year.


We start school next week—a bit later than usual, gratefully—and I know many of your kids have already started their new school year over the past few weeks. It’s always a bit jolting, isn’t it?—waking the kids up and giving ourselves grace and time to find that sweet spot of living well during the school year.

For us, living well during school means fostering a home environment for learning, to keep hearts, minds, and bodies ready and eager. And for all five of us, the foundation to making this happen, before anything else, is:

1. getting enough sleep, and
2. eating well.

Seriously. If these two things don’t happen, all bets are off academically, emotionally, relationally. We’re a mess. Your family, too, eh?


Sleeping for school

Our kids tend to be night owls + sleeper-inners, so we’re working on adjusting the clocks back to a school year’s rhythm. It takes time. Grace upon grace right here.

The key for us is channeling all our focus on earlier bedtimes, which means starting the evening rhythm much earlier than we expect (why is that still surprising, after all these years?). Dinner, showers, final school prep, and storytime all need to happen on the early side.


If our bodies are in beds reasonably early the night before, it makes our morning rush a million times easier.

Then in the morning, I do my best to wake up first, get my coffee going before the madness, and get myself dressed for my day before I ask the kids to dress for theirs.

And a final lovely ingredient to our mornings? Playing soft-but-energizing music through our speakers before we wake the kids up. Seems to create a happier, less-dragging mood as our night-owlers eat breakfast.

Eating for school

The number one key I’ve learned for better school-year eating is making lunches the night before. For me, this is essential. It’s not part of our morning routine, it’s part of our evening routine.

Once they’re made, they wait overnight in the fridge. The next morning, it’s simply a grab-and-go before we head out the door.

healthy school lunch

We also have the kids make (or if they’re still young, help us make) their own lunches. This speaks volumes to them about responsibility, ownership, and making healthy food choices.

The sandwich thing works for us every now and then, but daily is too much (we’re trying to avoid a grain onslaught). The best lunches, for us, are dinner leftovers with sides of simple fruits and veggies.

The right containers help, naturally. We use these wraps for sandwiches, these for soups, and these for leftovers and sides:

Stainless steel lunch container

(The clamped lid means things stay put, and it’s dishwasher-safe, hallelujah!)


When our kids eat at school the way they eat at home, there’s less stress on their bodies and minds, which work so hard during the school day. And it’s a thousand times easier on us parents, because we’re thinking of our family food consumption as a whole, not as though lunch is unique from our breakfast and dinners.

Good food, good sleep. When we prioritize these two things at home, our kids’ time at school is so. much. better.

healthy school lunch

And so, after six weeks of cross-country travel, the school supplies are ready and the kids are counting down the days to school (they genuinely can’t wait!). The heat still screams summer at our new-old house, but the school year on the horizon whispers fall.

I’m grateful for a new beginnings, for season’s changes, and for fresh starts. I love the laziness of summer, but we’re ready for the school year. How about you?


MightyNest is a wonderful resource for those of us who care about using ethically-made products that enhance our quality of life. And their new MightyFix service is right up AoS’ alley.

With a $10 monthly subscription, they’ll send you a new product that makes your home healthier (something always valued at least $10, and often more). You can always add more to your monthly fix, and shipping is always free. And you can be a subscriber for as long or short as makes sense for you; there’s no mandatory subscription period.


MightyNest is offering Art of Simple readers a special $5 rate for the first month of your subscription—this means when you sign up for MightyFix, you’ll pay only five bucks for your first month, and you’ll receive the same stainless steel food storage container I love as your first fix!

That means you’ll get a fantastic lunch essential, valued at $15, for only $5! Your fix will arrive at your door within a week or so—to sign up, head this way.

(MightyFix is currently available to US customers with free shipping, and Canadian and Australian MightyFixes ship for a small fee. Details are here.)


This essay was written in partnership with MightyNest. Thank you for supporting ethical businesses that keep the AoS lights on, friends!