There we were, in the middle of Target, looking for the bathing suit section and BAM! Right in front of us, was a huge display that had “BACK TO SCHOOL” hanging above it, written on a fake chalkboard with fake chalk lettering.
It’s June, people! We literally just got out of school and already they were forcing us to think about going back!
Here in NJ it seems like we are the LAST people on earth to get out of school - snow days, teacher in-service and a crazy thing we had called “MOLD days” (that’s a whole other story) - my kids were done with school less than a week before July 1st.
So to walk into the store with the high of summer vacation still on our minds, and see the dreaded “back to school” isle already leering at us, was a bit much.
But now it’s August. And some kids have already started school already (sorry, Arizona). Here in NJ we’re still reveling in summer fun, but we can’t ignore the back to school sales and talk about homeroom teachers and bus schedules. It’s coming, whether we like it or not! So here are a few tips I’ve curated through the last several "back to school" days I've endured to help us all cope with the craziness.
In my house, back to school also means back to soccer practice and dance classes. Everything kicks into high gear, so you need a system to keep track of it all. My way of doing this is using a family calendar on Google calendar. This way, everyone can see what’s going on each day (although I still usually have to tell them).
The Google calendar also helps me from overbooking myself. Whenever I’m making doctor appointments or setting up the dog groomer, I can see right away if there are any conflicts.
I also use a family calendar in the kitchen so I can see it at a glance. It has the same info as the Google calendar, but it's just easily accessible. It’s also a great way to show someone just how crazy your life is - “LOOK at my calendar, it’s crazy!”
Also, don’t forget to find out if your schools have an online calendar - you can go on there and pick up important dates now and fill them in so you already have Back to School night and the first band concert on your radar.
Hello, my name is Jenn and I have a new school supply addiction. I love, love, love buying new notebooks, and pencils, and markers….sigh. What I DON’T love, is getting my kids’ supply lists after school starts. Drives me crazy, because all the good sales are done and the racks have been picked over.
So, there are a couple of things you can do. Our elementary school PTO asked the schools to supply lists earlier this year...and it worked! Our K through 5 lists came out before the school year was even over! Unfortunately, this did not apply to the middle or high schools, but it’s a start. If you have a PTO or PTA in your school, ask them to do the same thing. Or, call the schools yourself - the worst they can say is no.
Also, you know your kid is going to need pencils, and glue sticks, and a few folders - those common things can all be purchased in bulk for great prices this time of year. Plus, they’re going to need more come January, so buy up those BOGO sales on the stuff you know they’re definitely going to use, then fill in the blanks once the list comes out.
Making lunches is the pits. Sorry, but it's true. I never make them the night before like I'm supposed to, and I'm always scrambling in the morning to put something half-way decent and healthy together.
So, I have my HUSBAND helping me with lunches. Yep! Sometimes he makes them the night before, sometimes the morning of, but having that one thing off my list is a huge help.
My older kids, 13 and 11, can also make their own lunches, so if he’s pressed for time, they will make theirs and I just have to make my 8 year old’s lunch.
Oh, and if you have a crazy morning and forget to pack your kid’s lunch, please don’t freak out! The school will feed them (and you’ll get a bill).
Okay, here’s a neat trick for moms with multiple kids. We get these forms each year for every kid, and one form needs 2 copies for each one. It’s insane. So - I fill out one with the “generic” info, and then make copies. Then I fill in each kid’s info on the COPIES. Soooo much easier than hand writing each form out! And I also beg the schools to go digital with this stuff, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Some kids have a tough time with back to school nerves. My girls have a bit of anxiety when thinking about new teachers, classes and students. They seem to come up every year, so I make sure to talk to them regularly about their feelings during the summer, and ask them what they’re most looking forward to, as well as what they’re concerned about.
One year my girls were especially nervous, so I made them cuff bracelets that had sayings on the inside to help lift their confidence when they were feeling nervous. Our Confidence Cuffs have gone on to become our best selling pieces, but it was the “back to school jitters” that got them started, and my girls loved having the bracelets during those first few weeks back in class.
Our schools also have an “open house” before school opens. It gives the kids a chance to walk the halls, see their classroom, and sometimes even meet their teachers. If your schools don’t do this, see if you can set up a time to take your kid in to see their class before school starts. It goes a long way to easing their minds.
I like to start my kids on a school schedule about a week before school actually starts. I’m a HUGE believer in adequate sleep for kids…but I admit I get lazy with bedtimes during the summer. The week before school, we start our routine - showers, reading, lights out by 8 (or whatever time works for you). We also wake up a bit earlier, just to get used to it. This way, the first day of school just feels like another “day” - rather than the first time in months that they’ve had to go to bed and wake up super early.
As far as clothes and stuff being laid out the night before….it’s a nice dream, but we don’t get to it, usually. I do make sure all homework is done and in backpacks the night before, but otherwise we tackle clothes in the morning. My girls are older now so they can do all that themselves, and my son - well, he grabs a shirt and pants (anything goes, really), so it’s pretty easy for him.
If you have younger ones, you probably want to have something ready for them the night before, just to make your morning a bit easier. I found it very helpful to give them two choices for an outfit - “you can wear this or this tomorrow, which one would you like?” - this cuts out the challenge of choosing from EVERYTHING, and makes them feel like they have say in what they wear.
It’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity during the first few weeks of school. I tend to pull back on any other commitments I have for those few weeks. Take time to get a manicure or pedicure - something that makes YOU feel taken care of and pampered a bit. Make sure you get good sleep, too! And maybe take a rain check on extra activities. Come October, you’ll be fully back into the swing of things and ready to take on the bake sale, yoga classes and class mom duties.
Cheers to a new school year!