5 Back to School Hacks

I can’t believe it’s already time to get ready for our kids to go back to school. I feel like they just finished last school year a few weeks ago!

As a busy mom who works a full-time job, I try not to wait until the last minute to start getting the kids ready to go back to school. It’s important for me to start preparing a few weeks in advance so we can get our routine in place before it REALLY matters.

Start getting the kids back on their school year sleep schedule several weeks in advance

During the summer, I get extremely lax with my kids sleep schedules – they are allowed to stay up later and they don’t get up early in the morning. My son Mason is only 3, so his schedule stayed relatively the same, only adjusted an hour or so.

My daughter Samantha on the other hand, is just like me – a night owl to the core! It only takes a few days to adjust her schedule several hours later. Instead of going to bed at 8pm and getting up at 6am like she does during the school year, she has been going to bed at 10pm (sometimes 11!) and getting up at 9am. If she has the opportunity, she takes a nap during the day, which has made the problem even worse because she isn’t tired at bedtime!

It’s not as easy to adjust her schedule back in the other direction. Based on my own experience, I knew that it would be extremely difficult for her to jump from getting up at 9am to getting up at 6am all at once.

Because we had to adjust by 3 hours, I took 3 weeks to get her there – each week, I had her get up an hour earlier than the previous week. It worked like a charm! She wasn’t excessively tired during the day and didn’t have major issues going to bed an hour earlier each night.

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Buy school supplies online

This is a BIG one! I can’t believe I’ve never thought to do this before!!

Samantha’s school did not release their school supply list yet until 5 days before school started! Most stores were completely sold out of the things I needed. I probably would have needed to go to several stores to find everything, which would have ended up costing me extra money (because who goes to Target and only buys what they went there for?)

It’s such a waste of time and money to go to multiple stores, when I have everything available at my fingertips and can get it all delivered right to my door! I might even be able to get some cash back by using Ebates (now Rakuten).

Amazon has school supply bundles for each grade or you can use their lists to buy all the things you may need.

Plan school lunches

Whether your kids bring lunch or buy school lunch, it’s a great idea to plan ahead. If they are bringing lunch, make a list of things they can bring to school including snacks and drinks. Use a calendar and fill in each day with what they are going to bring.

It’s even better if you can get them involved in this step – then there are no arguments about what they have for lunch!

Take the calendar with the meals for the week and use it to create your grocery list. This helps eliminate over or under buying at the grocery store because you aren’t guessing what you might need (also saving money!)

Make sure your kids have a large enough lunch bag/box to hold everything. This will vary depending on how old your kids are and how much food they need during the day. If you are sending cold food, you will need an ice pack or two. I highly recommend a thermos like this one so they can bring warm/hot things to eat as well. Samantha LOVES that she can bring soup or mac and cheese to eat and it’s still hot at lunch time!

If your kids buy lunch at school, take the time to set up their lunch accounts and deposit money in them as soon as the system allows you to. You don’t want to wait until the last minute, realize their system is down so you can’t put any money in the account and now you need to rush to the grocery store to get the kids something to eat.

Prep lunches ahead

This one is extremely helpful during the first week or two of school but is also a great idea the rest of the school year to save time in the morning. Take some time on the weekend to prep what you can for the kid’s lunches. You probably don’t want to fully assemble sandwiches several days in advance because they will get mushy, but you can get snacks and drinks ready.

I like to take a large Ziploc bag (one for each day) and put Samantha’s water bottle, drink flavor packet, chips, treat, and anything else that’s not refrigerated in the bag. Then in the morning, all we have to do is grab one of the bags and empty it into her lunch bag. The bags get reused each week to help eliminate waste. The night before or in the morning, I only need to prep the perishable food.

My sister realized that she was going through several boxes of Ziploc bags every month, so she bought some reusable containers to help reduce waste. She picked these because the larger ones have a convenient ice pack with them, and the smaller ones are a perfect size for snacks.

Plan outfits at the beginning of the week

I started having Samantha do this last year and it worked out great! Every Sunday, she goes through her clothes and picks out 5 outfits for the week, head to toe. Each morning, she just grabs one of the outfits and gets dressed. She picked the outfits so there is no arguing. Everything is already separated so we don’t have to go through “I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!” every day!

Even though Samantha was extremely excited to go back to school (just to see her friends – not to learn…), these hacks made the transition so much easier!

What are some of your favorite tips to make going back to school less stressful?