Back to school is always an interesting time. Whether you’re dealing with a new public or private school situation or jumping into homeschooling like we are (more on this in my last podcast episode of season 2), we can feel like we’re thrown for a loop with a brand new schedule, perhaps new activities (are those still a thing?), school lunches- and more! Which is why planning ahead can make SUCH a huge difference in feeling less stressed and more calm around back to school time- which is what I’m all about! So I thought I’d share a few ways we’re preparing for back to school, in our house.
1) Start early.
Something that has helped me a ton over the past couple of years is writing out a list of all the transitions that are coming up, and when. When does school start? When does dance start back up? What does ‘start up’ look like for you? What time will your kids need to get up to be on the bus or in the drop-off line on time? Rather than being reactive, and stressed, you can be proactive and plan ahead, by reverse-engineering your schedule. If your kids (or, ahem, you) have gotten used to sleeping in and getting up at, say, 8- asking them to wake up, get ready and be on the bus by 7:30 all at once can be a lot- on them and on you. So, what do they need to do to get ready for school- and how long (be realistic, here) does each task take- add that time up, tack on an extra 5 minutes for complaining if your kids are human and figure out- what time do they need to be up? If it’s 6:45, how can you start waking them up 10-15 minutes early a week ahead, so they have a couple days to adjust to waking up early before it’s the real deal?
For us, though we’re homeschooling, we still need a routine in place to get things done while also getting our work done (my husband and I both work from home). So where we are currently letting the kids sleep as long as they will (my little usually wakes up about 30 minutes before her sister most days), we want the kids ready to go so we can start school by 8:00 (and get my youngest off to daycare twice a week). So the kids need to be up around 7am to make that happen. Right now, my oldest is still sleeping until 7:30, sometimes 8, so we’re adjusting bedtime back a little and getting into a more structured routine the couple of weeks before we start school (for us, this is the second to last week of August, because activities start the next couple of weeks- one routine at a time).
2) Gathering supplies.
I’m a list girl… can you tell?! 😉
I find the earlier, the better when it comes to things like school supplies (and curricula, for homeschool), clothes, etc. So I start by doing a brain dump of everything we need in all areas (books, supplies, activities, lunches) and divide it into categories so when I see a sale going on, I can jump on it and get what we need as much as possible ahead of time so we’re not rushing and can RELAX the last couple of weeks before school.
3) Calendaring with my husband.
Life certainly looks different this year, than last! We make things happen with block scheduling, so we are aware of when each of us is working vs. when we are with the kids. But… this requires communication! There are days where one of us needs more time than other days, so we do a Sunday evening meeting going over our schedule, as well as a monthly meeting planning out any bigger events that might pop up as well as activity shifts for the kids.
4) Creating a list (yes, another one!) of lunch ideas
Kids get bored, just as much as mamas do, with eating the same thing over and over again! Do yourself a favor and create a mix-and-match lunch plan to simplify lunch packing, and keep that variety going! Bonus points for doing a Thrive Market order
Want to learn more about how I simplify school (and co-op) lunches? Check out my free Healthy Mama Healthy Kids Lunch Guide for how I create healthy balanced lunches (with over 15 lunchbox examples!).
5) Last but certainly not least, simplify dinner plans.
Weeknight dinners look different when school pickup and activities are involved! How are you going to simplify things? I like to start by re-vamping my family favorites list for the fall with easy weeknight dinners- and adding a few new ones to try, as well!
How are you feeling about back to school? Share with me over on Instagram!