Every year, thousands of parents stare down the abyss of back-to-school with the promise that this is the year they will finally get organized. As the lovely, unorganized, carefree days of summer reach their apex and time is spiraling towards that inevitable first day of school, get yourself -- and your kids -- prepared. With a little organization and some proven time-and-money-saving tips, those school-day mornings don't have to be hectic, crazy, hard on your wallet.
Save money wherever you can, however you can.
All those back-to-school supplies can quickly add up. There are currently 16 states that participate in a tax-free weekend during the month of August to help parents save money. This tax-free incentive can be combined with any other current offers or coupons, which can help you save big on items like backpacks and sneakers as well as some big-ticket items like computers!
Cash in on last year's clothes to get money for this year's wardrobe.
As the Huffington Post reports, Schoola, an organization that collects gently-used clothing in exchange for cash, is a great way to save while also helping others. Schoola donates 40 percent of the profit they get from selling clothes back to schools.
Lunch hacks are invaluable!
If you pack your kids' lunches for school, time-saving techniques can be helpful. A lot of that comes down to simple organization, too. For instance, you can make a week's worth of sandwiches for school lunches on Sunday, wrap them and freeze them individually, and be done with it! They'll thaw in your kid's lunchbox at school by lunchtime. Use cookie cutters to give them fun shapes for the little ones -- plus, get rid of those crusts that your kid probably doesn't eat, anyhow.
Putting a rubber band around an apple to keep the slices in place not only looks neat, but it also keeps the slices from turning brown. Freeze juice boxes the night before and let them double as ice packs. Or, if you have a messy eater, freeze a clean, wet sponge in a baggie to use as an ice pack, and then your kid can use it after lunch to clean up.
If you can, do it the night before.
Face it: For most of us, school mornings are not pretty. Trying to get your kid out the door, fully dressed, fed, teeth brushed, and with appropriate gear in tow in time for school -- while also getting yourself ready (and coffee ingested, too!) -- can be a challenge. Whenever you can, get it done the night before school. Even better, get your kid involved and teach him independence!
For little ones, using big baggies labeled with the days of the week and putting the child's complete outfit in there, from socks on up, can be helpful. This can be done all at once on Sunday and be ready for the entire week. This way, your little one can grab a baggie and get herself dressed! Encourage older kids to select their outfit the night before, as well. Check backpacks the night before, and have a designated place for those backpacks to prevent confusion in the mornings. Sign all forms and check all homework the night before, too.
Homework can wait.
It's tempting to have your kid sit and just "be done with it" as soon as he or she comes through the door, but remember: They've been sitting and working for seven or more hours already at school. Having them complete homework right after school can cause tears and resistance and anger on both sides. Give them an "active" break between school and homework. By that, it's suggested that children actively play or otherwise engage in a physical activity (preferably outside) for at least 30 to 60 minutes after school. This will not only get their blood pumping and provide them with exercise, as well as a needed release, it will help them focus and engage when it's time to sit down to their school work.
Give them three minutes, three times a day.
There are nine minutes that have the most impact on your child's day. The three minutes after he wakes up, the three minutes when he gets home from school, and the three minutes before he goes to bed. Use them. Even in a hectic, crazy life full of school, work, appointments, and extracurricular activities, pushing the pause button three times a day, for three minutes, can have a profound impact on your child's day. Hold them. Kiss them. Look them in the eye, ask them how their day has been, and let them know you are present. It makes a difference.
Do you have any back to school tips that you find invaluable? Let us know in the comments below and share with other parents!
[Image via YuryImaging/ShutterStock]