It’s back to school time. Parents everywhere are steeped in the hectic back to school scramble, supplies, clothes, lunches, activities, car pool, after school care… The list is endless. We have to plan, prepare, shop, organize, schedule and then we actually have to make sure they get to school on time with supplies, lunch and completed homework in hand. It’s enough to make even the most organized among us weep with exhaustion. There’s no getting around the long list of school needs, but there might be some relief for the accompanying migraines.

Some Back-to-School Sanity Savers

  • School supplies – Buy school supplies as soon as you receive your list. Make sure you check sale flyers before you shop. Don’t forget to check your local warehouse club for bargains. It pays to buy extra, supply prices are at their lowest this time of year. If you have a stash of the basics, you won’t run out later in the school year, necessitating a 6AM trip to Wal-Mart for a #2 pencil the morning before a big test…maybe that’s just our house.
  • School clothes – Clothes can break the bank, like no other part of school prep. Shop all summer long, so that the expense can be spread out over several paychecks. Watch for those buy 1, get 1 sales, sign up for coupons and email notices from your favorite clothes stores and take advantage of those “the more you buy, the more you save sales.” It may be cheaper to buy several of the same jeans in different washes or shirts in different colors.
  • Sports equipment – If your kids play sports, then you know how expensive all that equipment can get. One way to save is to buy equipment or sportswear the next size up at the end of the season for next year. Most areas also have a second hand sporting goods store in the area. Or check eBay, Craigslist, etc. Another idea is to talk with your coach or fellow parents about organizing a swap or resale within the sports team. It’s a shame that perfectly useable equipment sits in a dusty basement, when someone else could use it.
  • Lunches – Plan lunches ahead. Look at the lunch calendar for the week and decide with your child which days will be buy days or bring days. Most schools now have a pay ahead system so that lunch money doesn’t need to be sent in every day. If your child brings a lunch, decide what those lunches will consist of and shop for the whole week. Again, stock up on snack items and non-perishables ahead. Granola bars, pretzels, drinks, etc. can all be bought in bulk. Pack lunches the night before if possible…and teach your child to make their own lunch as soon as they are capable.
  • Routines – Devise a morning, afternoon, and evening routine that works with your schedule. Create a checklist and print it out so that you or your child can check of each item as you go. Some sample routines include:
  1. Morning: Eat breakfast, feed dogs, get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair, make bed, and check backpack for lunch, snack, sports equipment, and homework.
  2. Afternoon: Unpack backpack, eat snack, homework, etc.
  3. Evening: Check school calendar for next day, pack backpack for next day, pack lunch if applicable. Discuss any activities, sports, daycare, and carpool arrangements with child.
  • Carpool – Talk to your fellow parents and set up a rotating carpool schedule if you can. Set up a phone tree or trade contact info. with other class or sports parents. *My best time saver has been trading cell numbers with other parents. We text to arrange rides, share schedule changes, ask about supplies, etc.

Back to school will always be a busy time of year, but with a little bit of planning and organization, you can save a whole lot of time, money, and aggravation.

Do you have any back to school tips to share?

(Photo credit: Green Apple on Book via Shutterstock)

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