For many of us, school is just around the corner (about three weeks for our family). And every year, I feel the mad September rush of new events and activities – school, Girl Scouts, soccer, homework, birthday parties, school lunches – I get exhausted just thinking about it! This is my first post in a weekly series to help get ready for school. My goal this year is to get organized ahead of time, so we can enjoy the final days of summer. I hope these tips will help you get organized, too!
1. Purchase your backpack, lunch bag and school supplies. Let your child help choose the supplies, but save them until school starts so the newness doesn’t wear off.
- Our school is homework-heavy, so all the kids use a rolling backpack. We opted for the Critter Pack from LL Bean. It’s the smaller of their rolling backpacks, and looks to be super sturdy. My daughter has already tried it out at summer camp, and it’s pretty easy to maneuver for her, and she’s on the petite side. (http://bit.ly/adjTx1). And if you have younger kids who want to be like their big brother or sister, check out the cute Skip Hop Zoo backpacks for toddlers (http://astore.amazon.com/re06-20/detail/B003HS5JMQ) – perfect for little ones to carry around and play school!
- For lunch bags, I love the Laptop Lunch. It’s a bento box style, so it holds each item in its own unique compartment. Plus, it comes with a water bottle and utensils, so everything fits neatly inside. The little cookbook that comes with it has some great ideas for lunch recipes, which I seem to always struggle with, so that comes in pretty handy, as well. (http://astore.amazon.com/re06-20/detail/B002HTR0YQ)
- By now, you have probably received a list of school supplies your child will need. You should purchase them as soon as possible. Target, Wal-Mart and Office Depot are all great sources, and you can find a lot of things online, too. I’ve put some of my favorite school supplies in my “Back to School” section of my online store, you can check them out here: http://astore.amazon.com/re06-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=9.
2. Schedule some playdates with classmates. This is particularly important if your child is new to the school or if you haven’t seen many classmates during the summer. Keep these playdates small – one-on-one really works best, and short – 1-2 hours is plenty of time to help avoid conflict. Invite a friend over for a craft or special lunch, or meet up at the park or pool. If you’re feeling really motivated, email your class parents for a little back-to-school party at the park and have everyone pitch in to help. Each person can volunteer to bring snacks, drinks, art supplies, sand toys, chalk, bubbles, water balloons or whatever else you feel the kids might enjoy. You can even invite your teacher along for the fun. This is a great way for the kids and parents to reconnect before school begins.
3. Purchase clothing “essentials”. Let’s face it, we don’t usually have fall weather here until November. So there is no reason to head out and stock up on jeans, sweaters and coats just yet. My daughter always seems to have a growth spurt in late September, so anything I buy her now would be too small by the time it’s cold enough to wear it, anyhow! If your child’s summer wardrobe is still in good condition, he or she can probably wear that until at least late October (depending on your school’s dress code, of course). If not, the good news is that t-shirts, shorts and sundresses are all on sale now! So you can grab a few to last the rest of the summer and the first part of the school year. And other than that, you probably just need a few basics. I like new undies, socks, shorts to go under dresses or skirts, shoes, and a light sweater or sweatshirt for chilly mornings. For girls, these basic white undies are comfy and super practical – they don’t show through light colored clothing (http://astore.amazon.com/re06-20/detail/B001UYRNIW). And for modesty, check out Monkey Bar Buddies (http://astore.amazon.com/re06-20/detail/B0036Z7VB2). They’ll keep her feeling confident on the playground! And if you despise shoe shopping for your kids as much as I do, consider shopping online at Endless.com (http://bit.ly/91DTNt). I have shopped for my daughter’s shoes here for a couple of years now – it’s free shipping to you and free return shipping. So, we order more shoes than we need, try them on in the comfort of our own home, and send back what we don’t want. The selection is FAR more extensive than you’ll find in any department store, customer service is great (they refunded my money for a pair of sandals that lost a flower after my daughter wore them 10 times), and prices are reasonable.
4. Make an appointment with your pediatrician. Every school has a required health form. If you make an appointment now, you can get your kids in for a quick check-up and get their forms filled out and signed before all the last minute parents are trying to squeeze in (that would be me, last year).
5. Plan some warm weather activities to enjoy the last weeks of summer. Get some water play in – the beach, pool, a water park, or a sprinkler in your backyard are all great ways to enjoy the warm summer sun. Enjoy a special summer treat – make s’mores at night, head to Balboa Island for a Balboa bar, visit your favorite frozen yogurt shop, or make homemade ice cream or popsicles. Get some physical activity outdoors while you can, too. A bike ride, evening walk or morning hike are all great warm weather family activities.