The beginning of the school year is upon us. We all know there is more on the agenda than simply taking our kids’ school shopping and attending open houses. It’s time to transition into the busiest time of the year! There’s not a mama among us who isn’t looking for new ways to make back-to-school more manageable. I’ve searched far and wide for some school time hacks to make life easier for all of us. Here are a few tricks some of the best moms I know are successfully using. And, spoiler alert: a little planning goes a long way!
Smooth Mornings Start With A Plan
Managing the Wardrobe. Making wardrobe decisions ahead of time may change the game at your house. When my kids started laying out their school outfits the night before, morning meltdowns subsided significantly in my 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. Thinking lunchtime through the night before is another way to bring some calm to your morning. Many moms I know designate a few minutes after dinner each night to make lunches, while some prep further ahead. In fact, one of my friends has her daughters assemble their sandwiches for the week on Sundays. They freeze them until they are ready to use. (She keeps toppings that don’t freeze well, like lettuce, separate until morning).
Another lunchtime hack I love is designed to help kids who are learning to pack their own lunches. Some mom friends of mine use 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, these lunch extras are easy for little hands to grab and put into their lunchboxes. The beauty of this trick is it allows kids the freedom to make their own choices, but provides boundaries at the same time.
Do your children buy lunch at school? Well, this same “planning ahead” concept applies to them, too! If you have your kiddos take a peek at the week’s school menu on Sunday and decide which days they’d like to buy, your week of lunch planning will be a breeze.
Getting Bookbags Set. Setting those 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 scrambling to find what they need in the morning.
Handling Homework. Do your kids ever sit down to do homework and proceed 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. Put it in the middle of the kitchen table when it was time for homework. What a difference this has made for us! It’s a lot harder to stall when everything your kiddos could possibly need is at their fingertips.
Checking Things Off The List. Whether it’s chores that need to get done or things your kids need to pack in their gym bag, a checklist may be the perfect solution for getting tasks done. A wise friend of mine calls this her “no nag solution” to making things happen in her house! Checklists put the responsibility on the child. They allow you to simply refer to their list for reminders, instead of nagging them to… let’s say… remember to put on deodorant each morning. Lists can be modified for each child, depending on age and level of responsibility. They can even be switched up when summer rolls around.
Dinnertime Made Easy. One of my favorite ways to make for 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. When it comes to those busier evenings, I opt for a crockpot meal or something simple like sandwiches that require minimal kitchen time. If this sounds good, but you are stuck for dinner ideas, meal planning services like emeals.com can provide you weekly menus for just a few dollars a month.
A Few Clever Extras To Get Through The School Year
Buy School Supplies When They Are On Sale. One friend of mine has always purchased her four 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. This gem of an idea came from a friend of mine who teaches preschool. Just like with school supplies, she doesn’t wait until the holidays to scramble for creative gifts. 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 little trick doesn’t just help your kids’ teachers but is a way to make a great first impression. It lets your teacher know from the get-go how much you appreciate them. Teachers always need tissues, antibacterial wipes, and Lysol. Stock them up 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 “mom hacks” for surviving the craziness of your kids’ school days? We’d love to hear your ideas, so please share!