10 back to school tips for mom
This is a busy time of year for so many of us. Here in the northern hemisphere, summer is winding down and kids are getting ready to go back to school (in fact, most of our kids here in Arizona have already started!). We’re often so focused on the kids that it’s easy to overlook our own preparation. Mom is oftentimes the “heart of the home,” so I want to be sure YOU are feeling as excited, equipped, and READY as possible to take on a new school year. Obviously what I’m sharing applies to Dad as well, but since 98% of you reading right now are female, that’s why I’m going to say “mom” a lot. ; )
WORTH NOTING: What I’m sharing in this blog post comes from my own experience of figuring out what works best in my own family life, and I also tapped into the expertise of other moms we admire and know have mad organizational skills. These are collectively some of the best tips we’re rounding up to share with YOU!
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND: What do you want to FEEL at the end of this year? Besides just sheer survival, you likely want to feel like you were able to keep your cool and that you were able to support your child in thriving this school year without running yourself ragged along the way. Keep this in mind as you comb through all the ideas and tips because it can really keep you grounded in how you make decisions and how much you decide to take on … or let go of.
KEEP IT PERSONAL: This blog post is not intended for you to feel like you need to “do it all” in the slightest! In fact, I hope that you’re able to look past a lot of this and focus only on the few things that really stand out to you. Pay attention to your feelings. There will be something — even if it’s literally just ONE thing — that will strike you. Pay attention to that energy. Run with it!
READ: Parenting with Love & Logic! Have you heard of it? Have you read it? This book has so many powerful lessons and advice for parenting with love and getting through those tough times without losing your cool. Seriously. It’s so good.
Okay, those were a few “general” notes. Now let’s dive right into our top 10 tips! The purpose of this blog post is to highlight some of the “bullet points,” but in order to get the full effect and hear more of the explanation on all of this, you’ll want to watch the video.
1. Daily Chart
- Hold a little family council and decide together what should be on the daily chart.
- When the kids are involved, they’re invested.
- Use the daily chart not only to stay on task with the kids’ responsibilities but also for accountability.
- We use a simple chart (I whipped it up using Pages) that I put in a frame that has an 8×10 space. The kids can use a dry erase marker to write on the glass of the frame when they have finished their tasks, then we can easily erase it at the end of each day.
2. Teacher Gifts
Creative presentation? Let it go! There is no need to be creative all the time. The teachers appreciate anything and everything. These ideas aren’t just for the beginning of the year but for any time throughout the year.
- Lush bath bombs, lip balm, cute Post-it notes, or a pack of thank-you cards they can use throughout the year
- Don’t forget to give gifts to the front office staff; it can’t hurt to be on their good side, right?
- Give quick and healthy snacks at the beginning of the school year because the first few days are crazy busy
- Target or Walmart gift card (or ANY gift card) to use for whatever they need
- Scentsy. Since they can’t light candles in their classrooms (kids can get stinky)
- A nice note and even an interest questionnaire to find out what the teacher’s likes are
3. Love Notes
Little reminders and notes just may be your kids’ love language.
- Use Project Life® cards for notes to leave in a lunch box or in the car, on their mirror, etc.
- If you want to be intentional about this, make it a regular thing so you don’t forget. It even helps to have a stash of prewritten notes that you can drop into a lunch box at any time.
- Another idea: Leave dry-erase messages on “I love you because” frames. Refer to the video to see these frames that we use in our home.
4. Paper Organization
I’m talking about managing all of the papers/stuff at the beginning of the school year. Let’s face it — this can be an overwhelming task. Here are some thoughts on keeping it all organized… mostly suggestions from our mom friends.
- All paperwork gets filled out immediately – and then the papers get thrown away!
- Add any important dates + contacts + class info into the calendar immediately.
- Because so much is digital, create a folder in your email inbox for each child’s class and file important rosters and phone lists in that folder.
- Have one folder. Keep ALL school calendars, teacher’s classroom rules, etc. Basically all of the stuff that comes home the first week of school.
- 1 file folder for each child, each year. Keep that in a centralized location and add their important things to it.
- One mom shares that every day her kids bring her their backpack and she immediately goes through it, signs papers straight away, and puts them back into their bags.
- Each child has a drawer in the family office labeled with their name; they can keep their own supplies in that drawer to use for homework time.
- If you have Siri or Alexa, use them to set up reminders and to-do items.
- Our visual manager Kara is obsessed with using the Evernote App to keep everything organized and she blogged about that here.
5. Scrapbook the Easy Way
You know the easy way, right? Project Life. You can do this and add to the kids’ respective albums throughout the school year OR simply collect it all in one place and do it at the end of the year. Again, watching the video discussion on this would be helpful.
- Doing it along the way = getting it done immediately, but you might end up keeping “too much” of the stuff.
- Waiting until later = you might better be able to narrow down the keepers.
- Watch Welcome to Project Life for a quick overview of the options so you’re making an educated decision on which approach is best for you.
- Use Envelope Pages for all of the extra STUFF.
- Not into scrapbooking? Use journals! This blog post outlines what I do for our children. (Yep, I’m still doing it.)
6. Photo Tips
It’s easy to remember to take photos of the first day of school or the big projects or the big events, but there is so much more!
- I challenge you to take photos of the everyday stuff… the little things that really tell more of the story of your child’s school year.
- Examples: shopping for school supplies, covering text books, organizing their backpack, working on homework.
- I regularly share #BHPhotoTips on Instagram and Facebook, to inspire you with what kind of pictures can help tell your story.
7. Interview Time Capsule
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to interview your kids! Did you know we have a FREE downloadable questionnaire for you to have your kids fill out? If they’re too young to write, ask them the questions and write down their responses … as word-for-word as possible.
- To download the PDF just click here. When you give us your email, we’ll automatically send that over so you’ll have it immediately.
- Catch our video, Interview Questions for Kids where I asked the BH team’s kids the questions from our PDF.
8. Managing the After School Chaos
The after school routine/snacks/homework time is often the hardest time of the day. Sometimes referred to as the “witching hour,” here are some ideas worth considering to help this time be a little less crazy.
- 15 minutes of snack time and then straight into homework.
- Have your table prepared with a yummy snack + a small organizer with necessary supplies for completing their work.
- Have homework time straight away so it’s not hanging over everyone’s heads all night; the kids can play as soon as they are done.
- Consider being OFF your phone and computer during the time that kids are working on homework so you can be 100% focused on that time with the kids.
- Try going without TV until after dinner and consider no video games during the week at all.
- Routine is the boss in some people’s homes. For example: come home from school, dump sand out of shoes, wash hands, eat snack together, go through backpacks, music practice, 30 minutes of reading, then showers. You get the idea.
- Be sure to have healthy, protein-rich snacks available, like yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, veggies and dip, smoothies, guacamole, peanut butter, nuts, etc.
- When the kids drop their backpack on the table, immediately go through them while they get a snack.
- Having an organized pantry can be key! The kids choose from specific baskets what they want for a snack without making a mess.
- One mom gives her kids 15 minutes of free time right after school to decompress. In fact, she sets a timer and when that timer goes off, they get to the homework!
- Play classical music to help the kids relax during homework time.
- If it works for you, use the morning for homework, chores, and practice time instead of after school.
9. Meal Planning
Have you figured out the best thing that works for you, especially on those BUSY days? I’m always interested in hearing what works for others.
- You may have noticed that I love to document all of our favorite recipes using the Project Life App. I keep that recipe book on hand and accessible for any time I need a recipe idea. You can catch all of my recipe pages on Instagram with the #BHRecipes hashtag, and we also post them on my Pinterest.
- One family plans meals each Sunday night, and each child picks a meal they want that week. Grocery shopping on Monday.
- One of our mom friends cooks all of the meat for several days and just reheats it each night it’s needed.
- Keep easy meals on hand at all times. Examples: taquitos, quesadillas, frozen pizza, easy pastas, etc.
- How about breakfast for dinner at least once a week? Cheap + easy + fast.
- One mom has a flip book handy with 30 easy meals that her family loves. She refers to that all the time.
- Frozen shredded chicken on hand at all times is essential to another mom.
- Have you tried doing your cooking on the weekend, doubling and tripling up on recipes so you have plenty for a few days?
- Try a different breakfast each morning of the week so you’re infusing a variety. Example: cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, and egg casserole.
- Similar to the last tip, one family prepares lunches the same each week with each day being a different “menu.”
- At the beginning of the year, prepare a bunch of handwritten notes on Project Life cards so that these are handy to add to the kids’ lunches for weeks / months!
- A lot of people love emeals. We’ve tried this ourselves and it’s really cool.
- Freezer meals! Get some friends to have a co-op with you. 4 people make 3 meals each and make 4 portions of that meal. Then switch them once a month so you will have 12 freezer meals!
10. Mom Time
Don’t forget to do something for YOU!
- Check out my Balancing Roles & Responsibilities video on YouTube for my top 7 tips to achieve as much balance as possible, even when you have SO much going on.
I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration for beginning the school year on the right foot! Remember: don’t get overwhelmed trying to do ALL of these things. That’s so not the point. Simply implement just a few things that can eliminate some of your stress.