With four school-aged kids and two still at home, when back-to-school prep nears, we know that organization and planning ahead are the key to our success!
You’re probably just as surprised as I am how quickly once summer vacation begins do the stores begin stocking up for “back to school”! But because summer vacation flies by WAAAYYY too quickly, don’t wait until the week or so before school begins to start your shopping and planning. Although the prices seem to be the best there at the end, and actually after school starts, they’re still very reasonable early in the summer months, and preventing the experience of the “torn apart, rifled-through back-to-school aisles” come August saves me and my children a lot of stress and confusion. I try to have at least the lion’s share of the “class supply lists” scratched off and stored in our closet shortly after July 4th. Doing so, gives the kids fresh supplies that they know are waiting for them in the hall closet. Backpacks and lunch boxes rarely last more than two years, so I let them pick out those that fit their personality. One of our yearly traditions is that, after a big “back to school” shopping trip, we take the kids out to a family restaurant of their choice, reinforcing the concept that the approach of a new school year is, in fact, exciting and worth celebrating.
Because our tight budget does not factor in “school-bought lunches” (with three of our four children in parochial schools), we get creative with our lunch box lunches and plan (and sometimes prepare and store in the frig) the following day’s lunches the evening before. Doing this only takes a few minutes once dinner dishes are done, and it saves again on time and stress in the mornings.
Our creative lunches include: departing from the typical sandwich by occasionally making homemade bread in our bread-maker. Even PB&J tastes amazing on homemade French bread! Petas and tortillas filled with deli meats and cheeses mix it up as well. Many lunches consist of baked frozen pizza slices that I’d toss in the oven that morning, and wrap quickly in aluminum foil … by lunchtime, they’re still warm and very yummy! Cold days welcome a hot thermos of tomato soup or chili, too! We always include a cold drink, fresh or cup fruit, frozen then thawed yogurt cups or sleeves, and some chewy granola as a sweet dessert. Previously frozen pudding cups are also a favorite in my kids’ lunch boxes.
You know your kids’ likes and dislikes! Allow them to have some variety and have fun with their selections of school supplies, including their all-important lunch and snack item choices!
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Please reply and post YOUR families’ tips and ideas for surviving back-to-school preparation and those first crazy weeks of school!