Before you know it, it’ll be time to head back to school. In our family, this is a happy, sad, and mostly crazy time. It’s funny how having just 3 kids can keep you on your toes with all the stuff they have scheduled. Just chauffeuring them around is a part-time job. With that in mind, here are some tips for getting — and staying — organized for back-to-school.
1. Ease Your Way In
A lot of families let summer glide by right up until the first day of school — only to experience a total shock. Even though you’ve probably done it several times before, going back on the first day can feel like total chaos — especially if you’re unprepared. Take the last couple weeks of summer to start getting to bed earlier. Move that bedtime a little earlier each night, until you’re back at school-time curfews and bedtimes at least a few days in advance. And of course, along with an earlier bedtime comes an earlier wakeup call. Gradually get up earlier until you’ve stepped it back to the right time for school. Also, if meal times have become out of whack, adjust those back to school-appropriate hours. Don’t let the first day of school throw you for a loop!
2. Calendar Command Center
Most of us have calendars in our phones these days, and that’s a good thing. Make sure those appointments and dates are shared with the whole family if you have older kids with smartphones. That way, everyone knows what everybody else is up to. Even with this technology, however, there is nothing quite like a central, paper calendar for everyone to glance at and add to. This nifty idea has you taking apart your calendar and hanging each month on the wall, 6 months in advance. Make sure there is a dedicated pen attached to the wall, and ensure that everything on the calendar makes it into your phone, and vice-versa.
3. Plan Shopping Trips in Advance
Don’t just head out willy-nilly for back-to-school shopping; you’re bound to take too long and spend too much. Instead, check the sales circulars and do as much online as you can. August is the most popular time to shop for school clothes, but the sales usually start in July. Take advantage of great prices and smaller crowds by going earlier.
Make a list of needs for each child, and cross off what you can with hand-me-downs from older siblings. Always clear closets and dressers of things they can’t (or won’t) wear anymore before buying more clothes. Discuss the budget with your kids beforehand, making it clear that the prices of what they choose will impact how many things you can buy.
4. Pace Yourself
When it comes to shopping for school, we usually do things a bit differently in our household. Luckily, all 3 of our kids (and mom) have summer birthdays. We tell everyone giving them gifts that they’ll need clothes for school. Above that, we will shop here and there for a few favorites when we see a good price. Our schools start in mid to late August, when it’s still hot outside. This means our kids typically go back to school in their summer clothes. So we really aren’t in a rush to buy fall outfits before school begins. We like to pace ourselves (and our budget), buying cool-weather clothes in August — October, when see something cute on sale.
5. Do a “Dry Run”
Especially if all this is new for your family, try conducting a morning test run before school actually starts. Keep in mind that if it doesn’t go smoothly, you might want to leave yourselves a chance to try it again. 😉 Get up, dressed, and out the door at the appointed school time. This will help you see where the trouble spots may be, and iron them out before it really counts.
6. Pack the Packs
You likely head back to school with the usual supplies: pencils, paper, binders, crayons, calculators, etc. If your school sends home a supply list, tackle that shopping well in advance. A few days before school starts, let your kids organize their supplies. Have them fill binders with paper and dividers, put pens and pencils in a pouch or box, and get everything ready to go in their backpack. You don’t want to be running around that first morning looking for everyone’s supplies.