What are your tricks for making back-to-school fun & frazzle-free?

It may seem hard to believe, but those lazy days of summer are almost gone.


This summer just flew by, didn’t it? Scary to think it’s time to sharpen those pencils, buy some new school shoes, and get ready for a new year of school/work.

But before you rush out and gorge on the back to school product smorgasbord at your local superstore, here are some tips for organizing the back to school basics so that you enjoy a smooth transition and more sane school year.

1. Don’t skip the paper calendar.
Yes, we know. You have an iPhone, Blackberry, Outlook calendar, whatever. But that is yours. There’s nothing like an old-fashioned calendar proudly hung on the wall that inspires everyone to write in their activities and appointments. Packing snacks for the kindergartener? Glance up at that paper calendar and you won’t forget that today is the “Around the World” celebration. If you don’t have the wall space, use a planner like our Weekly.agenda (it’s baaack!) and keep it in a central location, like a kitchen drawer or next to the mail station.

2. Do start them on a back to school routine in advance.
It’s so hard to go from the flip-flop casual days of summer, where the day is so pleasantly unstructured, to the 6am wake up call and full-day of school, sports, and activities. It’s even harder on the kids, so don’t shock the system with a dramatic schedule turn-around. Start waking the kids at their earlier time a few weeks before school and have them get used to going to bed earlier. Getting them ready a few weeks before doesn’t cut their summer fun, but gets them prepped for school days.

3. Don’t be a school supply hoarder.
Oh boy, we’ve all seen those shows where the people need a clutter intervention, but what we don’t realize is that we all have a little hoarder in us all. Have you looked in your drawers lately? You probably have a growing collection of pens, markers, rulers, etc., so when you get those school supply lists, look through what you have first and then buy ONE set for home and keep it centrally located. Each child doesn’t need a stapler and a protractor, so if it’s all in one spot, it’s homework ready for the day that geometry homework comes home.

4. Do take the time to create a master calendar & get it synced with everyone.
Sit down with the school calendars now and ink all the important dates in the family’s calendar. Make sure you and your spouse put in requests for time off now so that you can attend those events you absolutely, positively don’t want to miss, like your kindergardner’s first day of school. Need to remember the two-day soccer tournament in October? Write it down. Whether you need to ask your boss for some time off or just need to avoid double-booking, writing it down now will help you enjoy the upcoming events.

5. Don’t rush out for new clothes.
Yes, we know, the commercials have been baiting you for weeks. Cute back to school clothes are all over the place and you don’t want to miss out, right? Well, turn off the TV and turn on the computer. Before you hit the department stores, check out ebay. Do a little searching and you can often find brand-new or slightly used clothes at a true fraction of the price. Money saved, new clothes gained! Another option – wait until the end of September to buy fall clothes, and the even later to buy winter items. By the time kids need to wear them, stores will be trying to make room for next season’s clothing and the things you need will likely be on sale.

6. Do find ways to make heading back special.
Whether your child is starting a new school, beginning school, or this is their last year they are home with you before they go off to college and the world, don’t forget to make it special. It’s easy to forget the fun between drop-offs, pick-ups, and all that homework, but make time to make it special. It could be as simple as writing a note and placing it in your child’s backpack or celebrating the first day of school with a dinner out at your child’s favorite restaurant. Whatever you do to make it special will be remembered.

How do you mark the beginning of a new school year? Do you have any special tricks for making the back-to-school time less stressful?