16 surprisingly simple back to school home hacks to action this weekend, so that the school year starts off stress-free and on the right foot!
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of the early mornings, new routines and changes that will be happening within your family when school starts back? Perhaps you have a a child starting school this year, or maybe you’re needing to juggle jobs for multiple school aged children. Whatever your dilemma, I have some simple home hacks to help you start your year right.
As a mum of three, I have been packing lunches, washing school uniforms and juggling after-school activities for 12 years now. For my own sanity, I created routines and organising nooks in my home to create calm on what can be chaotic school days. Here are some of my top Back to School Life Hacks that you can implement now so you are ready and raring to go for the first day of the 2020 school year.
1. ESTABLISH A BED TIME
A good nights sleep is one of the most important ingredients for a full school day, and if you start implementing new sleep times and routines now, your child will find it much easier to get out of bed on the first day of the school year. I suggest setting a bedtime and encouraging your child to wake at the same time with an alarm clock.
These EasyRead Time Teaching Alarm Clocks are perfect for getting your little one out of bed, plus they teach them to read time too!
Adjusting them now will have them ready for their first day of school which will benefit their performance and engagement at school.
TIP: To determine a good time to wake each morning work backwards from the time you need to be out the door and subtract how long it takes your child to do each of their jobs to get ready… then add on an extra 20 to 30 minutes as they can get distracted! My Personalised Routine Chart provides a great visual guide for children to follow in the mornings.
2. SCHOOL SHOE SHOPPING TIPS
Back to school shopping is always mayhem. I recommend visiting the shoe store early January as the fortnight before school goes back is very busy, and there is a possibility they may not have the shoes you need. It’s important to get the shoes professionally measured and fitted properly to ensure they have the right sized shoe for their feet. The best time to buy shoes is in the afternoon as the foot will be at its largest, and fitting shoes while the foot is at its largest/swollen will ensure the best fit for your child throughout a full day. Remember to take a pair of their school socks and orthotics if they wear them when getting fitted.
3. BOX OF HAIRSTYLING SUPPLIES
Little girls need to have their hair pulled back tidily out of their face for school, and there is an abundance of pretty bows and hair accessories that makes this task fun for parents and kids alike. Creating a hairstyling caddy can help stop the morning scramble of looking for the brush, hair detangler and bows, as everything is conveniently on hand (and can be easily carried from one room to another).
READ MORE: DIY Homemade Hair Detangler
4. SCREEN TIME RULES
TVs and other screens and devices can easily distract kids from getting ready in the morning and from doing their homework. Set boundaries and rules to help reduce this distraction, here are some options that might work for your household:
- No screens before school
- Screens only after homework finished in the afternoons
- Screens only after kids are dressed and ready for school
- No screens on school days
- Educational apps only during the week
- One hour of screens each day
5. HOMEWORK STATION
If your lucky enough to have some spare space in your home make an area to store all the kids homework supplies, books and bag. Or create a little caddy that can easily be moved from a drawer to the dining table. Make it an easy to reach place for the kids so they have all they need (sharpener, glue, ruler, pens, scissors, home readers) to complete their homework. Creating a homework station will help encourage your child to do their homework in a calm space, as well as helping to keep the clutter tidily away when not in use.
READ MORE: 26 Inspiring Study Nooks For Your Child
6. PLANNED LUNCHES
Preparing and packing school lunches can get monotonous over time, especially when trying to be creative and give them something different each day. As well as a nutritious lunch (sandwich, salad, wrap, crackers etc), kids need a healthy mix of fruit and snacks to keep them fuelled throughout the day. Snacks can be homemade muffins, biscuits, vegetable sticks, cheese cubes, fruit etc, or for convenience you may use pre-packaged snacks such as popcorn, dried fruit, biscuits muesli bars and chips. Place snacks in baskets for easy access in the pantry. This will help you easily see at a glance if you need more supplies at your next grocery shop so the kids aren’t going to starve throughout the week.
My Lunchbox Planner Pad is a great way to take the stress and guess-work out of your kid’s weekly school lunches – plus it’s a simple way to make sure you’ve always got all the ingredients you need in the fridge and pantry.
7. GET A GOOD LUNCHBOX
Choosing a school lunchbox can be overwhelming, but trust me when I say that it pays to invest in a good one! I love to use the bento style lunch boxes as the different compartments allow me to easily add a variety of snacks into my kid’s lunches, they help reduce my packaging, and in turn means that I can buy supermarket ingredients (like chips, crisps, popcorn etc) in bulk (which saves me lots of money!).
If you want help choosing the right lunchbox, check out my 2020 Guide To Choosing The Best School Lunch Box For Kids And Teens.
8. FILL THE FREEZER
Take some time in the weeks before school starts to fill your freezer with lunchbox friendly food so that you have food ready for school lunchboxes. I do a mixture of sweet and savoury snacks that are freezer friendly. I put them into the kid’s lunchboxes frozen and by morning tea time they are thawed, fresh, and delicious!
My Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook is jam-packed with over 50 simple sweet and savoury recipes that are all nut free, freezer-friendly, and perfect for the kid’s school lunchboxes.
9. HELP REDUCE FEELINGS OF ANXIETY
Anxious feelings in children are normal and expected when they first start school. There are so many changes disrupting them, which is why it’s great to implement some strategies to help reduce your child’s feeling of anxiousness. Here are some options to consider for the first day of school:
- Talk to them about how they feel.
- Role play! Get them to dress up in their uniform and play with their school bag.
- Visit the school. Walk there, ride bikes, drive, or walk in if the school allows.
- Start them on their school routine before school starts.
- Go shopping for school supplies together.
- Pack school lunches in the weeks leading up to school so that your child gets used to eating from a lunchbox.
- Diffuse Lavender essential oil to help reduce the anxious feelings and help them sleep.
10. AFTER SCHOOL CHECKLISTS
The hours between 3pm and when the kids go to bed can be chaotic! Running kids to after-school sports, doing sight words, home readers, washing uniforms and fitting in down-time to recoup after a busy day can make for very busy afternoons. Creating checklists with visual cues will help your child on these busy afternoons to know what they need to do before their down-time, and also if their attention starts to drift you can point them in the direction of the chart (rather than having a yelling match). These checklists saved my sanity and helped me to remember everything too!
I can even help you to create a Personalised Afternoon Routine Chart that is unique to you and your household.
11. MEAL PLAN
Meal planning is a huge time saver. You don’t want to waste your precious time during the week running back and forth to the grocery store with tired kids after a long day at school. I can’t exaggerate enough how meal planning helps my sanity. To have all our dinner and lunchbox essentials in the fridge for the beginning of the week makes those busy afternoons so much easier! Consider your after school commitments to what you would then plan for dinner, i.e. you don’t want to have a meal that’s going to take an hour or two when you get home late from soccer training.
12. BABY WIPES IN THE CAR
Keep a pack of baby wipes in the glove box of the car for those mornings where you look back at the kids and notice Vegemite on their face or toothpaste on their uniform.
13. GET UP BEFORE THE KIDS
Getting the kids ready for school might make your mornings manic, so remember to take some time for you too. This can be time to exercise, have a shower or cuppa before everyone rises, or simply time do a few jobs around the house.
14. KEEP SPORTING GEAR BAGS PACKED
Much like the nappy bag days when I used to come home from a day out I restocked it with new nappies, bibs, clothes etc. Well the same goes for the kids sporting bags. Once all clothes are washed, I pack all they need back into their bags so they don’t spend time searching for what they need in the mornings.
My Personalised Pack In Sports Bag Chart provides a great guide for doing this, and is an easy way to teach the kids how to start packing their sports bag themselves.
15. CONTACT OR BOOK COVERS
You can spend hours contacting your kids books, or save your sanity and purchase book covers from the office supplies store. It will take you 10 minutes tops to slip on the covers compared with hours of frustration using contact!
16. HOW MANY SCHOOL UNIFORMS DO YOU REALLY NEED?
To have a school uniform for each day of the week would be ideal, but it isn’t budget friendly. Think about your laundry routine and determine if it’s possible to purchase fewer uniforms by doing a wash during the week. For example my kids have three uniforms, they wear them Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then on Wednesday I wash their uniforms so they have fresh clean ones for Thursday and Friday.
Curious about how many school uniforms you should buy? Check out this blog here.
Which back to school home hacks will you be actioning this weekend?
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