planning

Back to School Checklist (Guide to Being Prepared, Not Stressed)

Back to School checklist with timing and tips 2015I love a good checklist. Actually I love lists – to-do lists, shopping lists, the list goes on and on.

Hahaha, see what I did there.

Okay, I digress. That being said, I need lists that are doable. I refuse to be taunted or intimidated by a list.

Below is my ULTIMATE Back-to-School list, complete with a timeline for planning. It’s helping my sanity while preparing for three school-aged kids. Even better, it is not overwhelming.

Enjoy and I hope it helps you and your family, too.

Back-to-School Checklist with Timeline

Four Weeks Before

  • Take inventory of clothes. Some people do this at the beginning of Summer, but my kids seem to sprout over the break. To make this task manageable, especially if you have more than one child, set a timer and work until time’s up. Do the same each day until you’re done. We worked in one hour increments and it helped me and the kids not be grumpy.
  • Download school supply shopping list from school’s website. At this point you don’t have to shop, but it’s good to have an idea of what you’ll need.
  • Add important school dates to your calendar and/or the family calendar. Doing this early will help you stay on top of events later.
  • Research after school care if needed. Now is a good time to start considering programs or interviewing nannies.

Three Weeks Before

  • Get immunizations and/or physicals if needed.
  • Take inventory of leftover school supplies. Mark items off of this year’s list that you already have.
  • Purchase bookbag/lunchboxes if needed. If using older ones, clean them and make sure all zippers and closures work. Also, make sure straps are in good condition.
  • Put your afterschool research to work. Visit potential programs and/or continue interviewing nannies. Narrow down your list of possibilities and finalize paperwork.

Two Weeks Before

  • Discuss extracurricular activities with kids. Get an idea of what they want to do (if they haven’t started). Keep in mind, homework and down time are important. Resist the urge to overschedule.
  • Do something fun. By now you’re gearing up for school and it’s easy to forget it is still Summer. Enjoy these last days by going to a local pool or beach, eating ice cream outside or having a smores night.
  • Begin adjusting bedtime slowly to get the kids back into a routine.
  • Begin picking up school supplies. I do this in two trips. The first trip is a solo trip once the kids are in bed. During this trip I pick up the staples (yellow pencils, glue sticks, paper, crayons, etc.). The next trip includes the kids and it’s when they pick up their personal items (pretty notebooks, pencil boxes, etc.). I find this is much easier than trying to pick up everything when they are with me.

Week Before

  • Implement a school bedtime. At this point kids can still sleep as long as they want in the morning, but going to bed will help them adjust better to school life.
  • Discuss expectations. This is a good time to highlight the positives of the previous school year and to encourage positive habits this year.
  • Review emergency plan with kids. Make sure they understand what to do if no one is at the bus stop or home, if someone gets hurt, etc.
  • Attend Open House.
  • Label bags, lunch boxes and other personal items. You can purchase labels or use a Sharpie. The important thing is that items can be returned to them if lost.

First Week of School

  • Have a special breakfast of power foods. Fruit, yogurt, waffles, pancakes and eggs are all good choices.
  • Reinforce emergency plans.
  • Make sure your emergency contact information is in their bookbag. I include one of my business cards.
  • Complete parent homework. Yes, you know all of those papers that come home the first week. It’s better to just suck it up and do it. Want to speed it up if you have more than one child at the same school? Fill out one with all of the information that is the same. Photocopy it and then fill in the information that is child-specific on the copies. It’s a great way to avoid writing your name, address and contact info over and over and over.
  • Treat yourself to something decadent. You totally deserve it.

Preparing For Back To School Time

How To Get Ready For Back To School

BackToSchoolPlanningSummer is great downtime. The kids get to sleep a little later, learning is more about life experiences instead of worksheets and class lessons, and I don’t have to spend time at night packing lunches or ironing outfits.

There are late dinners, trips to the pool and summer games.

I think about this as I start preparing for back to school time. I could be sad, but that won’t change the fact that school starts next week, my kids are excited about it, and the best way to set them up for a successful school year is to send them prepared.

Plus, the structure of a school day is good for all of us.

I do look forward to them sharing their school day experiences and then asking about my day at work. I look forward to reasonable bedtimes. And most of all, I love that they will learn about all types of things every day and make friends that they can have throughout life.

Now, for planning. Here is a back-to-school planning newsletter I created to help with many aspects of getting ready. It includes really great resources like checklists, lunch ideas and time management information.

I hope this makes your preparations a little easier.

Enjoy!

Give Yourself Options

Life is about choices. Fries or salad. Happy or miserable. Work towards a goal or not.

Some choices are easy. Of course chocolate is a good idea, :-). Others, like whether or not to start a business, not so much.

Whatever you decide, know that most people are happy when their choices give them options. They are not happy feeling trapped in a lifestyle, job, relationship or situation.

This is why we tell our young people to value education. With education there are more open doors and opportunities… options.

This is why we stress good health. Good health allows us to do things physically and mentally, without severe limitations… options.

This is also the reason people daydream about winning the lottery. We want the freedom to do things that we enjoy, without worrying about a paycheck… options.

A beautiful thing about living is that we can stay the course we are on if we like it, or we can decide to change things up. We can settle for average or we can commit to the extraordinary. We can use excuses to not follow our dreams or we can live golden.

These are choices that we make every day.

I just say make choices that give you options… and make sure they are options that you want.

Tips for Hosting a Family Game Night

Please help!

I am planning to host a family game night next month. It will be on a Friday evening and will include 4-6 other families. Can you offer suggestions to make the event a good time and not stressful for me as the hostess?

Thanks in advance!

Be Prepared For Fourth of July Fun!

Get Ready For Independence Day!

Much of celebrating the Fourth of July includes family, friends and festivities… outside.

Here are a few things to help you look effortlessly fabulous (and prepared) while enjoying cookouts, fireworks and parades.

Waterproof picnic blanket. I love this one from Crate and Barrel.

A blanket  is perfect because it is easy to carry, it’s big enough for the entire family to stretch out and there is enough room for a baby to crawl. Bonus, if the rest of the family is doing something else,  I can stretch out with my magazines.

Cooler/Drinks/Snacks. If you will be at a park or parade take cold drinks. No matter how much there is to buy, you’ll be happy you don’t have to look for a vendor every time you or someone in your party wants something cold to drink.

Sunglasses and/or big hat. Of course this will help with the sun, but they also come in handy for those little power naps I take during the drives between festivities.

summertotebagTote Bag. I like glam accessories, especially bags, which is why I am thinking about buying this one. It’s a Kenneth Cole Convertible Shopper and will fit our snacks, water bottles, baby needs, sunblock and more.

Blotting papers. These papers can be found in almost any cosmetics section and are great for absorbing excess oil without messing up your makeup or drying your skin. I like Sephora’s and Neutrogena’s best.trendysummersandal

Comfortable shoes. Wedges are my go-to item for sandals because they are comfortable and stylish. This pair from Steve Madden is absolutely gorgeous and will go with almost any outfit, from shorts to sundresses to khakis.

Happy Independence Day!