5 Tips to Simplify Back-to-School

 8/20/2017 4:45 pm
By Grace Pawlowski
From moving bedtimes up to meeting new teachers, there is a lot of preparation that happens at the beginning of the school year. The key ingredient to success is a plan. We have some back-to-school tips for getting the kids more involved and enjoying the last few weeks of warm weather stress-free.

Get back in the swing of things
Finding a new routine after a relaxing summer schedule can be a challenge. One way to get kids (and parents) excited about this shift is to give them more responsibility. Have everyone in the family make a list of things they plan to do on school nights/mornings to keep things running smoothly. Suggest that the kids pick out tomorrow’s outfit and pack their backpacks at night. They may also want to finish their homework by a certain time to allow for other activities during the week. Agree on a bedtime and sequence of events. Set some milestones to reward good behavior and make it a habit to circle back on AM/PM routines every couple of months. 

Build your own lunch
Declare Sunday afternoon the official “meal prep party” each week. Have kids help assemble snacks and lunch items in reusable containers. Create a chart that illustrates the components of a well-balanced, healthy meal and include a list of ideas that you can use to build your weekly grocery list (we love this example with illustrations). We recommend breaking out categories like proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy treats. Create a lunch assembly station and have them choose one item from each category to  build their own lunchbox every morning (check out this great how-to video). This gives kids some control over what they bring and will help to nip complaining in the bud. It is also a great way to teach them how to prepare nutritious meals for themselves.

Stock up on supplies
Take inventory before you venture out to purchase school supplies. Use Urban Market Bags to gather pens, pencils, binders, etc. in one place. This exercise will help everyone be more thoughtful before purchasing “one of everything” in the supply aisle. It’s also a good time to designate a homework area. Find a distraction-free space and set up bins and containers to store supplies (follow these tips).  Dedicating time there as a nightly habit will help the kids concentrate and reduce the hours spent trying to finish up assignments. 

Time to reflect + set some goals
As summer comes to a close, take time to appreciate the important moments you shared. Plan a special family dinner to honor achievements like jumping off the diving board, hitting a home run or going to sleepaway camp and reward everyone with a gold medal cookie. If you went on vacation, cook a memorable meal from  your trip and watch a slideshow of the best photos. Taking this time to reflect will also help bring about new personal goals like learning a popular song on the guitar or tackling a move in gymnastics that was previously out of reach. Write these goals down and keep them posted somewhere prominent as a reminder to balance the academic goals for the year. 

Enjoy the last few weeks
Try to clear your calendar and relax. It takes a lot of work to shift your mindset and day-to-day activities. Spend the rest of your time soaking up summer, and finishing up any lingering projects. Beat the heat by setting up pillows and blankets in an outdoor area with shade. Have the kids fill Urban Market Bags with their favorite books and spend the afternoon getting lost in a fantastic story. Eat dinner outside and roast marshmallows over a fire pit or portable grill for a quick home-away-from-home adventure. Brush up on your astronomy and do some stargazing in your own backyard (we love the Sky Guide app for assistance). Whatever you do, take it slow, give yourself time to adjust and get excited for the year ahead.