This post is all about the eight things that you need for back to school, not you as in your school-aged child but you as in the parent. My oldest daughter is going into the third grade and my youngest daughter will be entering Kindergarten so while I don’t have a ton of back to school experience under my belt, I have enough to know the truly important things for any parent to ensure that going back to school is the joyous occasion that it is.
Label all of your kids’ back to school items because if they are like my kids they will lose everything: Eye-glasses, backpacks, lunchpacks, binders, sweatshirts, sneakers, etc. My rule of thumb is that I label anything and everything that I paid money for. And, there is no use for coy initials or a cute preppy monogram — on the inside of all of my kids things I have labels that say: please return to “first and last name.” I especially like Mabel’s Labels.
2. Busybody Friend
As I have said before I really don’t love it when other Moms interview you for the job of being their friend. It is rude and downright insulting BUT I will say that having a friend (you can use the word loosely) who is in the know about all things school related can be very helpful. These type of friends generally have their ear to the pulse of the school. They know some important information and some not so important information but they can be helpful if you want information or want to be in the know but don’t particularly want to do the dirty work. Unfortunately parental cliques at elementary schools can sometimes make the Mean Girls movie look tame but you don’t want your child to miss out on any opportunities because you are not in the loop. Have at least one “know it all” in your friend arsenal and it will help you easily navigate the waters.
3. Alarm Clock
Now technically this is for the kids but it is really also for you. Invest in alarm clocks for your kids. It is an easy way for them to start the process of waking themselves up for school. Set the alarm for a few minutes before they have to actually get up. I used to do my kids a “favor” by letting them sleep as late as possible in the morning, but inevitably my act of good will would backfire because I would let them sleep too late and then have to wake them up by screaming, “GET UP NOW!” An alarm clock will do a world of good for everyone.
4. Hidden Supply of School Supplies
I have a set area for the kids’ school supplies so that they can have pencils and the like at their fingertips, but as always is the case, when you need a glue stick there are none to be found. I keep a secret stash of glue sticks, scissors, pencils, and rulers out of the kids’ reach so that when they need them I have them and don’t have to run out to Target (highly irritated) at the last minute.
5. Organized Area for Backpacks and Shoes
We recently had a mud room built into our laundry are, and I will say that, outside of cord blood banking and our kids’ 529 college savings plans, this is one of the best investments that we have made. Building a home organization system with hooks for backpack and lunchpacks, and cubbies for shoes, sports gear and hats and gloves can be pricey, so if this is not an investment that you are able to make you can go a little more low-key and get a simple row of hooks and baskets that you can hang near your entryway so that there is a set place for all of your kids’ things.
6. Large Calendar
We have a large dry erase calendar in our kitchen and it is especially useful during the school year. Juggling play dates, school-related functions, play-dates and all of the family events that we have to attend can leave even the most organized person a little frazzled. I know that a lot of people have fancy hi-tech ways to keep track of their schedules, but we keep it old school. I put all of the events for the month on our calendar and I color code each of the kids’ activities and events so that I can make sure that everyone is set for their things.
7. Lunch Ideas
I have been pretty vocal about my love/hate relationship with Pinterest, but I will say that it can come in handy when you are looking for inspiration especially when it comes to meal planning. Before the school year starts, I start asking my friends as well as looking online for new, different lunch ideas for my kids. This year will be the first year that I will have three lunches to make so the more ideas I have in my arsenal the better, ‘cause Lord knows that by the time that last of school rolls around I am willing to throw a juice box, a piece of fruit and some sun chips in a lunch box and call it a day. Be careful of Pinterest though, no sense in stressing yourself out about making crudite in the shape of Darth Vader for your little one.
8. Overhaul of the Kids’ Closets
I love a good purge and one of my favorite times to do one is before school starts. No sense in even having any sort of argument in the morning about what the kids can and cannot wear to school. I put away anything that would even remotely be questionable (ballet flats that are too small, spiderman tees that look like a web of holes, a favorite pair of pants that are so small that you cannot sit criss-cross apple-sauce, etc.) so that the arguments, negotiating, etc, never even have to occur. Everything that is left in the closet after my purge is fair game for school. This really helps the process run a lot smoother in the mornings.
What are your keys to make the mornings and life a little easier when your kids head back to school. Please share any and all tips!