Back to Life, Back to Reality

In approximately 48 hours, I will be prepping for my first day back to school. Yes, I said that, and yes, I realize it is only August 6. The problem is, school districts LOVES to send us back earlier and earlier each year. I dread the day I look at our district calendar and see us starting in July. I can’t even. Until then, I have been school shopping for the girls (LOVE back to school clothes!) and classroom decor for myself. With all that families typically have going on at this hectic time of year, I thought I would share some of the things I do to prep at home so we avoid feeling constantly overwhelmed and underprepared.

Clean out Closets

I do this every summer for not only the kids, but myself as well. It is so much easier and less stressful to stand in a closet choosing from clothes you like and wear regularly, so do not feel guilty when you toss clothes that have not been worn in a year (or more!). For me: My favorite way of being able to tell if something should be packed up and donated is the hanger method. This is just simply turning all of your hangers one way, and then, as you wear an item and it is returned to your closet, switch the direction of the hanger. When you get through an entire year, gather the items still facing out and, unless there is a reason to keep (if you have sentimental reasons, at least pack them away or keep them for your kids), place it in a donation bag. Keep in mind, if you are getting rid of a basic (jeans/white t-shirt/black heels), you’ll want to make note of it so you can be sure to pick up a new version of the item. I like to keep a running list of shopping items on my phone, so I always have it with me. For the kids: I turn it into something fun, and call it a fashion show! There are some items where you can tell right away if they fit or not, others are a bit trickier. If you are short on space, consider packing away seasonal clothes during the times of year when they won’t get much wear. Anything that has clearly been outgrown or looks really worn out, make a note of so that back to school shopping is much more efficient! If only my oldest would keep her drawers as neat as they are once mom has refolded everything…sigh…

Pre-Pack the Lunches

I adore all of those Pinterest lunches with the cute sandwich cut outs and what not. Do I have time for them? Heck no. At the beginning of each month, I print out the school lunch calendar and go through it quickly with my daughter. Any day she decides to buy, I highlight to easily see at a glance how many days of packing I have ahead of me. I typically start prepping on Sundays for the week ahead. I don’t prep sandwiches until the night before she is going to eat it, but everything else is a must. I use tupperware when possible, but they no longer sell the set I bought. THIS similar set is amazing and on sale! For big kids, check out THIS set from Rubbermaid, super durable and reasonably priced! After 8 years of marriage, we purchased a second set, we use them so much!).

Tupperware Back to School set
Rubbermaid set 

I pre-pack chips/pretzels/popcorn and set it in the corner of our countertop. I typically give McKenna a kool-aid jammer (she drinks milk or water at home, so no big deal to me) as her drink, and then, depending on what we bought fruit-wise, I wash and cut up fruit and store.  It’s so much easier to dump a cup of strawberries into a container each night instead of cutting them up each night! Another option are THESE applesauce squeezables that my kids adore, found HERE online, or any basic grocery store or Target.

McKenna’s current favorite is the Apple-Banana option. 
Doing prep for the week means that the night before only requires me to make a lunch or a wrap. Often times I will be so tired and think to myself, I’ll just do it in the morning. No, what will happen is I will have a panic attack, because I’m late (again. Side note: Can you really be late when you are late EVERYDAY and this is really the typical time you leave?). Trust me, the feeling you get when you are late but walk into the kitchen and know you only need to grab your lunch and leave, it’s life changing!

Carry a Planner

I love writing out my to-do’s. I think it makes me feel like my day has been more productive, but it also keeps me organized. With not only my dr. and school appointments to track, but also kids sports, piano lessons, teacher conferences and more, this keeps me where I need to be. THESE are my personal favorite and are typically on sale if you visit Michaels or Hobby Lobby with a coupon. If you want to get really fancy, Erin Condren’s are my spirit animal. They are pricey, but worth it for something you use everyday. I usually splurge on her brand for my teacher yearly lesson planner. For those that shun the written option and prefer to have theirs on their phones (my husband insists), try google calendar!

Create an Arrival Routine

The minute we walk in the door from school, my daughters know what to do. My little one only needs to remove her shoes and put them away, but my 7 year old knows that she needs to pull out her lunch box and water bottle and set them on the counter to be emptied/refilled, as well as any paperwork that has been sent home with her and place it at my spot at the dinner table. I tend to flip through the work while we eat together and ask her what things are and talk about what she has done in school each day. I bring in the mail and immediately discard any junk, also emptying out my lunch box and water bottle. Routines, in my opinion, are key to keeping everyone on track and at least feeling mostly on top of all of the responsibilities that come along with ‘adulting’.

Make Time for You!

Again with the routines! I am as consistent as possible with bedtimes during the school year. Some nights when McKenna has an event or practice, she goes to bed later, but typically her bedtime is 8:30 lights out. The girl gets up at 6:45 every morning, she needs her rest, trust me! Additionally, with both kids in bed by 8, 8:30, that gives my husband and I some much needed alone/down time to spend vegging out in front of the TV or talking about our day without little ears wanting to chime in. We also make it a priority to get up early 3-4x a week and work out together. We do different workouts, but it’s encouraging, knowing someone else is putting in the time as well! It’s nice to get an hour to yourself each day, whether spent with a spouse, reading an amazing book, or just zoning out in front of your favorite Netflix series. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback! How do you unwind with your significant other? What tricks work to keep your family organized and ready to go, especially during the hectic school year? Let me know below in the comments!