Your Back to School To Do List

How to handle the mad-dash rush to get ready for autumn school days

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but school starts back in just 14 days! Are you ready?

I remember that growing anxiety as a kid. But to be honest, as a mom, it is now my favorite time of year. I have a weird obsession with back to school supplies and I absolutely loved back to school shopping each year when I was a little girl. My mom would take me to an amazing stationary store (do they still even exist?) and I could pick out all new smelly markers, pencils and binders. Just the smell of new binder paper makes me giddy!

This year my twins will be starting first grade. This is also the first time they will be in separate classes. I think I may be more nervous about it then them though!

So, with one year of actual elementary school under my belt, I thought I would share with you my crazy, ten step to-do list that will actually help make your life easier, whether your kids are headed to preschool, elementary school or even high school, that you can start doing now.

1. Start your back to school shopping today! Waiting until the day before school starts will only cause a crazy amount of stress and all the best deals will be gone. This year, on the Prestwood School Website, there is a suggested list of school supplies for parents of kindergartners through third grade that you can purchase now while the sales are going on. Check your individual school website to see if they also have a list. Here’s the website of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District with links to all schools in the Valley.  

And before you head out shopping, check out my favorite blog, myfrugaladventures.com. Charlene lives in Northern California and lists weekly deals for CVS, Rite Aid, Lucky, Safeway, Whole Foods, Target, Office Depot and Staples. If you are not a fan of hers already, you will be now.

2. Start moving up bedtime. I know in the summer, we all let bedtime slip a bit. But if you start gradually, by making it 15 minutes earlier each day, you will ease the kids into earlier bedtime with out them noticing too much. You'll want to be sure your kids are getting plenty of sleep when school starts.

3. Start thinking school lunches! Stock up on extra lunchbox staples like fruit cups, yogurt sticks and granola bars, when you see them on sale. Also, kids always love new lunch boxes. I like a “lunch bag” versus a “lunch box” that turns all the contents inside on its side the minute you stand it up. Unless you are putting their sandwich in a sturdy container this means a squished sandwich! And don’t forget lots of napkins and wash and wipes!

4. Get in the habit of making a meal plan to ease the stress of dinnertime during the week. A menu plan saves time, money and is so much healthier than picking up take-out or ordering pizza. Just match up seven little dinners and one trip to the supermarket with your weekly schedule. Your life will be so much better for it!

5. Make and freeze a few extra dinners now. Try a session of freezer cooking and stock the freezer with prepared meals for stress-free dinners on busy or late soccer nights. Making a casserole? It doesn’t take too much extra work to just make two now and stick one in the the freezer for another night. Check out a few of my families favorite recipes here on Onceamonthmom.com.

6. Start retiming your kids’ tummy! During the first few weeks of school last year my kids were completely thrown off by their new structured snack and lunch time. They were accustomed to a relaxed summer schedule when breakfast and lunch maybe a little later and they could grab a snack whenever they wanted, so they are usually hearing their tummy grumble way before lunchtime. Start eating breakfast and lunch earlier now and their tummies will be ready in no time!

7. Go through your kids clothes and make a list of what they will actually need. I wait to buy “new” school clothes until after the fall weather actually kicks in (around October). I learned last year that my kids don’t really need any new clothes until the weather gets a little chillier and the rain starts. Of course, I sent my kids to school with a new outfit on the first day of school but, after that I let them wear their summer clothes for a bit longer. You can always put some leggings on under a summer dress and a long white shirt under any short sleeve boys shirt.

8. Plan homework incentive charts now. I have a box of little treats my kids can pick from at the end of the week of completing four days of homework after school. Throw a few fun treats in the box when you are out shopping for school supplies that are from summer clearance (and 90 percent off) and your kids will be none the wiser.

9. Buy alarm clocks, if your kids don't have them already. If your kids are extremely reluctant to get up in the morning, or just used to getting up a littlle later in the summer, consider using an alarm clock with gradually increasing sound, or use a timer to make their bedside lamp turn on just before you want them to wake up. In my house, my son actually has the opposite problem, he is usually the first to wake up in our house so the lamp timer really helps him know what time is OK for him to get up (or wake up mom and dad).

10.  Make a family binder. I have a separate divider for each person in my house and in there goes all soccer team schedules, class rosters, school schedules, lunch menus, You know, the essentials that you always need at the last minute. Check out organizedhome.com for a step by side guide to setting one up for your family.

Phew, well that’s my do list for the next two weeks. Of course, remember that you still have a little time to squeeze in lots of Sonoma fun and maybe even finish that summer bucket list!

Kelly Lester (EasyLunchboxes) August 04, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Lots of great suggestions here Michelle! Home packed lunches are more likely to get eaten if they're eye-appealing. With my EasyLunchbox Containers, there won't be any squished sandwiches, and you can make healthy, homemade "Lunchables". 2 pieces, 3 food compartments. With kid friendly, easy to open lids. Colorful cooler bags keep everything upright and hold extras like a water bottle and ice block. Affordable & green, and currently the #1 best selling lunch box on Amazon.com. No BPA, phthalates, lead, vinyl, or PVC. And visit my yummy lunch gallery for healthy & simple lunch box ideas. - Kelly Lester, mom and CEO, EasyLunchboxes.com


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