Most of us here in Southern Oregon are preparing to send our little (or not so little) ones back to school, and I for one cannot wait. While I am always sad to see my kiddos head back and end the sweetness of our summer season as a family, I love getting organized and prepared for a successful school year. In fact, preparing and organizing is one thing that makes our year smooth and fun, and prevents me from having a mommy meltdown as we transition back into schedules and routines. Here are some of the things that I do to get ready for that big day back:
-Order new backpacks and lunch bags: Pottery Barn also has some gorgeous options for little ones, that you can even add their name to or personalize with their initials. If you have tiny ones, I love this cute little unicorn print for something happy and energetic. But for older ones, Amazon has some wonderful and affordable options that are sturdy and also qualify for Amazon Prime and arrive at your doorstep in just a few days. This pretty floral lunch bag is great for preteens or teens, and this one is a great, neutral stripe set the comes with a backpack and a lunch bag! I always try to order them with a week or so to spare, in case they aren’t quite right or they don’t fit my children when they arrive.
-Order the little things: pencil boxes, ice packs, water bottles, and bento boxes are all things that go with those adorable lunch bags and backpacks, and it’s important to label them with their names! You’d be surprised how easily that helps us keep track of the many different items for each child, and I keep a permanent marker in the kitchen for labeling everything. Some mamas I know color code everything with a different color for each kid, and that is a great system too, if your littles like a certain shade (ie: all pink items for one child, all blue for another) It’s always a great system if you have preschoolers or toddlers who can’t read yet. TJ Maxx and Marshalls have tons of these basics in their kitchen sections, for really inexpensive prices.
-Organize the mudroom or hallway: Wherever you tend to group shoes or backpacks can become your command center. I organize our mudroom in our home so that it’s simple to get out the door in the mornings. I use galvanized metal buckets for sports gear like knee pads and jerseys, and sturdy hooks for backpacks, purses, or other hanging items. I also lay out shoes and outfits in advance, when possible. We try to prepare everything the night before, because there is nothing worse than scrambling to find an uniform or missing shoe as we are getting into the car, trust me!
-Coordinate with all the members of the family: Whether you use a whiteboard calendar, or your smartphones, it’s great to have a family meeting before the school year begins. It can really surprise you when the school year gets rolling and you realize that you have double booked days or times, and people need transportation. Laying it all out before the year gets started will prevent misunderstandings and frustrations, especially if you are a working parent. It can also help kids to see the things they’re signed up for and involved in, and how to prevent burnout by not adding anything extra as you adjust to a busy schedule and homework, etc. I also recommend planning a few basic meals (lasagna, healthy soups in the crock pot, sub sandwiches, or easy things like a cheese and meat charcuterie board), and eliminating any extraneous parties or events for the first week..little ones are often very tired from the “newness” and they may need additional sleep.