It’s hard to believe, but a brand new school year is upon us. We all know there is more on the agenda than simply taking the kids’ school shopping and attending open houses. Transitioning into the busiest time of year is a feat all on its own, and there’s not a mom out there who isn’t looking for ways to make back-to-school more manageable. As we head into this hectic season, I’ve asked some of the smartest moms I know for back-to-school hacks on making this time of year easier. Spoiler alert: a little planning goes a long way!
Back-to-School Hacks from Some of the Smartest Moms I Know
Start Transitioning Early
I always experience whiplash when moving from our routine-less summer into the structured school year. While it’s normal to feel jarred by this schedule switch, easing into the transition is key. A week or so before school starts, many moms I know start dialing back their kids’ summer bedtimes. By beginning this process early, and doing so gradually (15 minutes at a time may be a good start), the implementation of your kids’ new fall bedtime won’t feel so drastic.
Smooth Mornings Start With A Plan
Managing the Wardrobe. Who’s all for curbing morning meltdowns? When my kids starting making wardrobe decisions ahead of time and laying out their outfits the night before, it changed the game in our house. If you’d like to take it a step further, inexpensive closet organizers allow you to store an entire week’s worth of outfits in cubbies. Just be sure to set aside everything, including underwear, socks, shoes, and hair accessories, to eliminate any last-minute scrambling.
Taking on Lunches. Planning lunchtime the night before is another way to bring calm to your morning. Some of my mom friends designate a few minutes each evening to make lunches, while others prep sandwiches on Sunday for the entire week (and freeze them until they are ready to use).
Another lunchtime hack I love is designed to help kids pack their own lunches. Start by using snack bags to portion out “side items” like fruit, veggies, chips, pretzels, and sweet treats. When organized in bins and stored in the refrigerator or pantry, lunch items are easy for little hands to grab and put into their lunchboxes. This trick allows kids the freedom to make their own choices, while also providing them with boundaries.
Do your children buy lunch at school? Take a peek at the school menu with your child on Sunday to avoid decision-making difficulties throughout the week.
Getting Bookbags Set. Setting bookbags – complete with any signed papers, agendas, homework for the next day – at your front door before your kids go to bed is a foolproof way to ensure that no one is panicking to find what they need in the morning.
Handling Homework. How many times have your kids sat down to do homework and proceeded to waste time searching the depths of their backpacks for “lost” supplies like pencils, erasers, and notebook paper? Years ago, a friend recommended putting together a homework caddy full of extra supplies for easy access after school. It’s a lot harder to stall when everything your kiddos could possibly need is at their fingertips.
For older kids, homework time is also a perfect opportunity for electronic device “downtime.” As adults, we know how difficult to concentrate when our phones are beeping at us from the sidelines. If your child doesn’t need his or her phone while doing homework, this is an ideal time to plug it in, away from reach.
Checking Things Off The List. Whether it’s used for doing chores or packing a gym back, one of my friends calls checklists a “nag-free” solution for accomplishing tasks. A checklist puts the responsibility on the child and allows you to simply refer to the list for reminders, instead of repeatedly asking for things to happen. Lists can also be modified, depending on age and level of responsibility.
Dinnertime Made Easy. One of my favorite ways to ensure a smooth afternoon is to plan my dinner menu for the entire week on Sundays. This way, I’m never panicked for a last-minute meal and able to account for tricky nights when we have activities on the agenda. On busy evenings, I opt for a crockpot meal or something simple like sandwiches that require minimal kitchen time. Some moms I know even prepare meals over the weekend and freeze them to use on hectic nights.
A Few Clever Extra Back-to-School Hacks to Get Through the Year
Buy School Supplies When They Are On Sale. A friend of mine has always purchased her children’s school supplies throughout the year, whenever they go on sale. When the fall rolls around, she has everything her kids need at the fraction of the cost. The same applies to backpacks – buy off-season and on sale!
Create a “Gift Stash” for Last Minute Teacher Gifts. Another friend of mine doesn’t wait until the holidays to scramble for creative gifts. Instead, she stockpiles trinkets and gift cards throughout the year. That way she always has a little stash if a teacher’s birthday happens to sneak up on her.
Stock Your Teachers Up With Classroom Supplies At the Beginning of the Year. This tip is especially important, as teachers will be working hard to keep classrooms sanitized and germ-free this school year. Teachers always need tissues, antibacterial wipes, and Lysol. Stock them up right from the start of the year – and don’t forget to re-stock throughout the year!
Yes, this time of year is crazy. But, with a little planning and forethought, you really can cruise through this back-to-school transition. What are your favorite back-to-school hacks for surviving the craziness of school days? We’d love to hear your ideas, so please share!
Check out our other ways to prepare for back-to-school:
Where to Score the Best Back-to-School-Deals