We are four days away from staring the school year. I don’t know about you, but I always find the first week of school to be exhausting. Between the roller coaster of emotions and the juggling of the new schedule, it’s a lot on the entire family. I am a work in progress and learning to be more organized every year that the children go back to school.
We capped summer with a family trip away and these next few days are dedicated to getting our act together. Listen, it may all fall apart in a matter of weeks but boy are we giving it our all to start out on the right foot. Sharing ten things to do before going back-to-school to save your sanity. Hope they work for your family, too.
Nothing glamorous about this, but we have a dedicated spot for hanging up backpacks. I picked these hooks up from Home Depot and they are hung in our downstairs closet. On the nearby shelf I have the kids’ portfolios from over the years as well as a binder for each child with their important school records. The extra hook is for my purse. Let’s be real, this helps get the backpacks off of my kitchen island. And to be ready for the new school year, both are cleaned out and ready to go.
I created this caddy a couple of years ago when we moved in and it is still going strong. It is full of sharpened pencils and anything the kids might need for homework assignments or projects. I keep it close by so they can grab it when they need it. Having taught elementary school for ten years, there is something about fresh school supplies that make me crazy happy.
ORGANIZED DRESSER & CLOSET
Prior to school starting we go through the kids’ closets and drawers. We donate anything that no longer fits and make room for this year’s school clothes. We have never gone crazy with clothing for them. I learned a long time ago that less is more and then they actually wear it all. I have also learned to only buy a few new things prior to school starting and then let them see what they really want. They often change their minds so this has been a good way to go.
Mom Tip: Let them put everything back in their drawers and closet. My son organized this dresser and I was shocked to see just how well he did. Now he is more invested in keeping it nice and he knows where everything is. Win-win.
This has been my life-long downfall. I have never been great at keeping a calendar. I’ve foolishly tried to keep it all in my head and now that all of our schedules are more complicated it’s just not the best idea! I took down a piece of artwork near our pantry and put up this calendar. Each month we will fill it out and it will be in plain sight for all to see. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a day we ask one another about practice times or commitments. And since we all don’t have phones, this is the best way to go. Old school paper and pencil for us.
Things to include:
- All holidays and important dates from the school calendar
- Sports practices, games and tournaments
- Volunteer commitments
- Travel plans
- Birthdays of family members and friends
- Doctor appointments
LUNCH PACKING STATION
I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t make me leap for joy. When we redid our kitchen I had a special drawer made so we could create a lunch packing station. But truly this could be done in any shelf or drawer space you may have. We want the children to be involved in packing their school lunches so this will make it so much easier. They can grab their dry snack, fruit from the fridge and their water. We will be sure their main dish is ready to go. Team effort and it makes it so much quicker. They will also be in charge of making the grocery list for lunches based on what we are out of each week. With enough variety they can switch it up from day-to-day and I don’t have to think about it.
MEAL PLANNING APP
Raise your hand if you end up wasting food or stand in front of the fridge hoping dinner will magically appear. When we were on vacation, I met Rhonda who changed my life! She told me about the Paprika app. Are you familiar with it? We were all laughing that a $5 app seems way too expensive but it’s she assures me it’s so worth it. Essentially you can see a recipe on a blog or Pinterest, add it to your app and it creates a meal plan and shopping list for you. Ummmmm?! Sold.
No more wasting ingredients. Plus you can tell a child or spouse to pull up a recipe and start prepping the ingredients because you know you have them on hand. I just downloaded it so I wanted to let you all know in case you’re in need of something like it. My husband will also download it so we can share a grocery list. While that will cost a total of $10, it will save me a ton of time and money in the meal planning department. With more and more late sports practices, I am hopeful I can still be on top of healthy meals for my family.
We used to call this the junk drawer until a reader of mine suggested “supply drawer!” Sold. So much better. I just recently went through this to be sure we are organized and ready to go. I find that what I grab most often are scissors, little note cards, and a notepad for making lists. Plus having a handful of fresh pens that work is key. No none is allowed to take them out of the kitchen!! I’ll never see them again if they do. Who can relate? I remember my dad used to label the scissors with “kitchen” in Sharpie. Now I know why. Genius.
This is something we are doing for the first time this year. Perhaps it’s because the children are a bit older and we feel it is a necessity, but I do wish we had done it all along. Of course you need to tailor this to the needs of your family but here are some things we plan to chat about as a family:
- Personal goals for the school year (we are big on putting pen to paper when it comes to goals)
- New bedtimes/wake up times
- Screen time rules for during the week.
- Expectations for grades (sports can’t come in the way of doing their best in school)
- Plans for keeping our family game nights going.
- Kids choose a meal to make once a week (part of the app above)
We just think it will be good to all be on the same page and allow the kids to discuss anything they feel is important, too. It will be a full and busy year with school and club sports. We hope to be in the moment and enjoy it all so setting some guidelines and expectations for all of us will help.
FIRST DAY TRADITION
Since kindergarten we have been making a rainbow cake to eat for dessert on the first day of school. Now that the children are older, they make it all on their own. No matter what tradition your family may have or plan to start, be sure you have everything handy and in the house. Nothing worse than going to bake something and you are missing a major ingredient. Maybe it’s simply reading a story together or planning a yearly dinner. Whatever the case may be, I know the children love the consistency and look forward to this each year. Hard to believe this will be our 8th rainbow cake already. Time flies.
PHOTO OP READY
Everyone takes first day of school photos but let’s be honest, that first morning can be hectic and riddled with nerves. Have the photo prop ready. And the camera should be locked and loaded, too! Be sure you have space on your card and the battery is charged. I set this all by the front door the night before and have the kids get ready five minutes early. Then it’s no big deal to go out front and snap the yearly first day photos.
Are you ready for the year? I hope these tips and tricks help make your transition a little bit smoother. Here’s to starting out the year on the right foot.