Getting the kid or kiddos prepared to go back to school can be daunting and a little overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. Between gathering all the school supplies, attending open houses, meeting the new teachers and trying to figure out how to haul new paper, giant bottles of hand sanitizer and kleenex boxes into the building while keeping your child(ren) from getting hit by a car, its no wonder we all look like crazy people.
As a mom of 3 boys I've been around this "back to school" block a few times and in the spirit of helping parents everywhere here is my top eight list:
1) Shop for school supplies early. As soon as we have access to the supply lists we head to the store. Most stores put their back to school stuff out in mid July so it's the perfect time to go. Your kids get access to all the cool colors and designs (since no one has snatched them all) and you get to avoid the store meltdown where your kid is crying because there are no more ninja turtle notebooks. Ahhhh the horror! We have a tax free day here in August but honestly I would rather pay the extra bit of taxes and save me the hassle of trying to gather supplies with 100 other people. Trust me, you want to avoid that situation. It's never pretty.
2) Speaking of school supplies, don't get too hung up on the specific brands teachers ask for. They do this so that everyone has equal stuff and while the concept is perfectly fine sometimes it's difficult to find that exact brand in the exact color they are asking for. If I have thoroughly searched and am still coming up empty I just grab the store brand and call it a day. I'm not going to drive to 5 different places in search of Crayola Bold Extra Thick Markers....I mean is that even a thing? I just grab the Target brand and head on out. I've never had a teacher complain or give me the evil eye. Do your very best and at the end of the day if your kid has markers....mission accomplished.
3) If money is tight search your house for school supplies first. Every kid wants shiny new stuff but this is often unnecessary. I always find empty notebooks, unsharpened pencils, scissors and all sorts of things stuffed in the dark crevices of our closets. It saves us a lot of money every year and every little bit adds up. My kids can use the same pair of scissors every year and there really isn't any reason to buy all brand new stuff. Plus, it will save you the time at the store. See a theme here?
4) Get your kids on a school routine 2-3 weeks before school starts. I started this with my first child and it was the best idea I've ever had. We have the kids go to bed at 8:00 and they get up at the time they will need to catch the bus. We have breakfast and lunch and dinner all at the times we will when school starts so that they can adjust before the big day. Since we work from home I can do the whole day routine but if you work outside the home I encourage you to at least do dinner and bedtime. You'll be so glad you did and it will make the new school year start off so smoothly. This was the best thing I have ever done and it works like a charm.
5) Decide if your child will be taking their lunch or buying a school lunch and then plan. School lunches can be expensive and sometimes your child may not like everything on the menu. You can access the menus a month at a time so we typically sit down and circle the days they want to take their lunch since not everything is a favorite. If your child plans on taking their lunch start researching or making a menu now of things your kid likes to eat for lunches. A PB&J every day may get a little old. I usually write down 5 simple lunches and alternate those as often as possible. This also helps me for my weekly grocery shopping trips since I can just always make sure the same stuff is on hand. Don't feel the need to be the cool lunch mom who is always serving bunny rabbit shaped sandwiches and fresh yogurt imported from Greece. Simple is always better when it comes to kids and planning is always better when it comes to parenting.
6) Buy a quality backpack. Cheap isn't always better when it comes to backpacks. The amount of weight kids are hauling around in backpacks these days is horrifying....even Kindergartners fall into this category. Most years I've only gotten about half a year out of a cheap backpack. In February when the zipper or strap is broken and I go to find a replacement it's nearly impossible to find anything because backpacks aren't exactly "in season" in the dead of winter. So keep this in mind and try to find something of quality. If your kid is dying to have that character backpack that lights up and makes funny noises, that's fine, just buy two so you have a back up in case one bites the dust at the worst possible time.
7) Do one last little summer bash before school starts. Take the kids to the waterpark, do a picnic or just do something fun. The end of summer break deserves a celebration and you'll make some fun memories along the way.
8) Don't stress Mom and Dad. Everything will be fine, your baby will do wonderful, you will miss them every day (and that's normal) but pat yourself on the back for being so dedicated to your children and sending them off into the world smarter, wiser, and more awesome than ever before.