By Rachel Hoeing
Alright, we’ve put it off as long as we could, but it is time to face the music. Summer is about over and it is time for the kiddies to head back to school. If you are like me you start out the school year full-steam ahead with a plan for great success. It lasts about a month and then you are back in the rut of arguing over homework, trying to figure out meals and lunches, running late for the bus, etc.
But alas, as always I will put my best foot forward and see how long it will last this time. We hope some of these ideas will start your year off right and we also encourage you to share some of your own tips by commenting below!
1. First Day Photo
Use a chalkboard or a dry erase board or poster and give it to your child to hold in the photo. You can also mix up what you may want the board to say: teacher’s name, school, favorite books, favorite sports, etc. Older kids may poo-poo your idea because they are way too cool for this, but I encourage you to take a first day of school photo as long as they will let you!
One of our loyal readers sent in this idea that we thought was brilliant! She puts frozen mini water bottles in her kids’ lunch boxes. They stay frozen to keep the lunches cold, and they melt in time to drink them for lunch. Tell your kids to bring the bottles back home to recycle or fill again!
3. Memory Box
I wrote about this idea here when I discussed ways to preserve memories. Purchase a large box (the ones I own are 2′ x 3′) that can be stored under the bed. I found mine at Home Goods. Other places that have these are stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Tuesday Morning. When your child brings home a favorite piece of artwork, a best score on a final exam, a report card, or an encouraging note from their teacher, you can toss it into this box to keep. The key is not to keep everything, but pick and choose your favorites from the year.
4. Get organized
Those last few minutes before you walk out the door in the mornings are usually filled with, “Don’t forget this” and “I can’t find that!” A great way to keep items handy is to use a clear over-the-door shoe organizer. You can hang this on the door leading to the garage or other easy exit location where you can keep keys, hats, shoes, wipes, phones, or other items that you always need as you’re leaving the house. Another similar option is to leave a bin by the door for each child where they put their backpack, homework, library books, instruments, or anything that needs to go to school the next day. This will be very useful in keeping everyone calm to start the day!
5. Stay Fit Lunch Chillers
These come highly recommended by TMoM fans. They are BPA free and the non-toxic freezer gel will keep lunches cool no matter what time your child has lunch! I am loving the fact that they are only $4.99! Check them out here.
6. After School
Figuring out our routine for after school has always been a struggle for us because no two days are ever the same, but last year we finally found something that worked. My kids usually got home around 2:45pm. They had until 3:15pm to do whatever they wanted (aside from video games) INSIDE the house. That meant snack time, TV time, or just chilling out. The purpose of this was to give them time to decompress after their day. At 3:15pm we started homework. The rule was that no matter how quickly they finished their homework, they could not go out to play until at least 4:00pm. My son is one who likes to rush through everything to get outside with his buddies, but this made him slow down. Since my children were only in 3rd and 5th grades last year, their homework usually did not take long. This year we may need to adjust the time accordingly. This worked almost daily because even if we had sports, errands to run, dinner plans, etc, all homework was complete prior to those commitments.
7. What to Wear
Purchase a hanging clothes organizer with the days of the week labeled. Even if you have a child who will wear anything, this item still saves time in the mornings. You can purchase these online or find them in most stores like Target, Wal Mart or Space Savers. Simply fill up the organizer on the weekend with an outfit for each day, including socks, shoes, hair accessories, underwear, etc. Each morning your child can get dressed quickly and have everything right at his/her fingertips. If you have children who are picky about clothes, allow them to choose the outfits themselves when you fill the organizer on the weekend.
8. Back to School Fairy
This is a sweet idea for little ones, especially children who are starting school for the first time whether it be preschool or Kindergarten. Use your imagination to create traditions for your personal “Back to School Fairy.” A neighbor can dress up, ring the doorbell and bring goodies. The fairy can visit overnight and leave goodies by the bed. The fairy can ring the doorbell and run, leaving goodies at the front door. Your fairy can bring school supplies, a note, stuffed animals, you name it. Whatever will get your child excited and confident for the first day of school will work!
9. Family Calendar
These are especially important when you have teens and tweens who are in and out the door all year long. Keep your calendar in a high traffic spot and update as often as possible. A large wipe-off board is also a great idea so that items can be changed or erased easily if needed. Another idea if you have older kids with phones is to use the Cozi app!
10. That’s Mine!
Unless you want every item that goes to school to end up in the Lost & Found, be sure to label everything! Permanent markers often do the trick, but we have also had many recommendations from our readers for Name Bubbles. You can chose from a variety of packs that will fit your style and needs.
Visit our Education category for other tips and useful advice. Other blogs that may help as you adjust to a new school year are: Getting Out the Door in 30 Minutes, Homework: To Help or Not to Help, and What Teachers Really Want You to Know!