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Mom Guide to Back to School Prep
When you were a kid, back to school prep just meant some new school supplies, a couple cute outfits, and maybe a new pair of shoes.
As a mom, back to school prep involves transitioning your children, your household, and yourself from relaxed summer mode back to scheduled school, extracurriculars and the changing seasons. While some of us thrive on that return to routine, for the rest of us, it can be soul-sucking.
I find the first month just overwhelming. Between trying to figure out new routines that fit with the ever-changing schedule (why can’t they just keep the same extracurricular times each year?), I’m also trying to get to know a new teacher and her expectations of parents and students, while helping my daughter navigate the friendship dynamics of a new classroom, get supper on the table shortly after school lets out (instead of our later summer supper time), transition our home and backyard from all-day play to autumn-ready, oh, and prepare my business for it’s busiest quarter: the stretch from Halloween to Christmas.
I’m ready to head back to bed just thinking about it.
This year, I’m committing myself to spend at least one week preparing my house and myself for back to school so that the transition isn’t as hard and so that I’m prepared for the inevitable disruptions and surprises that come with back to school.
Today, I’m sharing with you what I’m doing to prepare myself and my house for back to school season and at the bottom of this post you can grab a free printable to help you with your own back-to-school prep!
Back to School Prep Checklist
- Meal Prep
- Lunch Making Zone
- Command center for all schedules
- Extracurriculars planned
- Labels ordered
- Backpack storage
- Fall clothing
- Fall yard prep
- School Emergency Kit
- Morning “Drills”
My family prefers to eat supper later in the day (around 6-7pm) but with extracurriculars, that can be tricky. We either need to have supper ready before we head out the door – or we are coming home after extracurriculars super hungry and ready to eat.
I also will be overwhelmed with work commitments during that first month of school, which is not a good combination, so having some freezer meals ready and a couple 15-minute meals (with all ingredients on hand) is going to make that transition much smoother.
While you can do a giant freezer meal prep session like my friend Sharla, what I’m preferring to do is everytime I make a meal for my family, I double the recipe and immediately store half in freezer bags or freezer-safe containers. (Most of the food I store cooked, unless it’s something that can just be added to a slow cooker.)
I also am buying some good-quality frozen vegetables and using that to help plan some 15-minute meals that I can quickly throw together on busy weeknights. Here are some great meals to try:
- Honey-Glazed Peach and Chicken Kebabs
- InstaPot Maple Garlic Pork Chops
- Greek Beef Kebabs
- 10-minute Cajun Shrimp & Rice
Lunch Making Zone
2-3 days of the week, my daughter helps make her own lunches, but our lunch making zone also makes my work a lot easier!
Fall Clothing and School Supplies
This is a great time to go through kids’ clothing and see what still fits and what needs replacing – because there’s nothing worse than finding out on the third day of school that none of your child’s underwear or jeans still fit!
Also, since the transition to cooler weather will happen within the first couple months of school, it’s good to have a few warm outfits ready – and get the rain boots before the stores all sell out of your child’s size!
We also go through our office and school supplies to see what we need and what can be repurposed for school. Usually, you also get a list on the first week of school, but most of it is pretty predictable. This way, you’re not rushing out on the first night of school for supplies – chances are, there will just be one or two things you hadn’t thought of and those can wait until your next shop.
School Emergency Kit
OK, so we may not want to think about this – but we all know that at least a couple times throughout the school year, we’re going to get a note home about some sort of illness… or lice.
I know, I’m itchy just thinking about it, too!
But after having a scare in kindergarten, I can say that the last thing you want to do if your child has lice is drag them through the store, scratching all the while, as you compare products or ask for help. And if your child’s school is in walking distance, you probably also want to have to avoid them setting foot in your car until the issue is dealt with!
So, I’ve thought ahead and picked up supplies for the most likely school-borne issues. I’ve picked up extra puffers (in case of loss), fever medication, cough syrup, and Nix Ultra® Super Lice Treatment from Walmart. Nix is the #1 Paediatrician-recommended brand, and Nix Ultra kills lice and eggs – even resistant “super” lice. Also, it’s pesticide-free and non-toxic which is important to me.
The box we purchased is good until August 2020, so I consider it a safe investment that gives us two years of “preparation coverage.”
As much as we hope not to have to use it, I would rather be prepared and be able to fast and effectively treat the issue if it occurs, without the extra trip to the store. Click here to print your own $3 off any one Nix Ultra® product.
Command Center for all Schedules / BackPack Storage
I don’t have this built yet but I’m currently gathering ideas and am super excited for a central zone with all of our schedules – including schedules of places that we have memberships to so that we can take advantage of special events.
I’m drawing inspiration from here and here, and am definitely incorporating my Glitter White Boards!
Also, if your child needs labels on their personal items – order them now! (Or just use a permanent pen.)
Extracurriculars can be difficult – there is a fine line between too little and too many. My daughter has tons of energy and interests, so trying to find a balance has been a challenge.
Around this time, most schedules are available for the extracurricular activities she always does and the ones she wants to try. I set a budget and figure out which things conflict with which, which activities work well with other obligations (ie, if it’s near a grocery store on a day that I can do my shop while she does her activity), which ones are too demanding on our schedule, and also rule out any that interfere with bedtime.
I also look at the schedules for things we have memberships to and make sure that the extracurriculars we chose still let us get the most out of our memberships. (For example, what’s the point in having a membership to a pool if you book activities during most of the “family swim” times?!)
It may also be helpful to schedule in family time and down time – for us, Friday nights are family nights, and I try to have at least 2 other days with no obligations each week.
My daughter is suuuch a dawdler in the mornings. It often takes her over an hour to get dressed and brush her hair and teeth. She also loves to sleep in and would sleep until 8:30am every morning if I let her! (I know, all the moms of early risers are shaking their fists at me right now…)
While her slow mornings are just fine in the summer, in the school year they can be super frustrating and have led to her being late for school and me having less time to get my work done during the day – not to mention, it’s a source of tension in the mornings that doesn’t need to happen.
So, I’m now “that mom” who is timing my daughter to get dressed and all bathroom activities done within 30 minutes. I want this to be a strong habit so that when we get back to school, we can have easier, more connected mornings.
We’ve also found that picking out our clothes the night before has helped cut down on dressing time in the morning, so we’ve started doing that every night right after getting in pajamas.
Fall Yard Prep
With school, work commitments and extracurriculars, I find that just normal housework is a bit hard to manage, let alone transitioning the house and yard for fall.
The week before school, I’m going to start putting away the non-essentials and preparing our gardens for fall. We’ll still enjoy as many suppers as possible on the deck, but the backyard doesn’t need to have as much going on as we tend to have in the summer. Gutters cleaned and other small fall yard tasks are also great to get out of the way now.
Pin this Collection of REAL Mom-to-Mom Back to School Tips:
Nix has also developed this Lice tracking app which lets you know the incidence of lice for your area, and also this Lice ID which helps you determine if what you find is lice, or something else (like dandruff or a tick).