After an amazing summer of beach trips, long hikes and lazy afternoons, it can be hard to get into the back-to-school mindset of schedules and homework. If you’re like my family, the first couple weeks of school can be a blur of new routines and trying to get acclimated to new teachers and expectations.
Once the school year kicks off, it becomes even more important to stay organized and keep up with a schedule packed with different activities for each kid. I’ve learned that when running from activity to activity it’s important to have some must-have supplies in my bag. Keeping a balanced bag of nutritious snacks, homework supplies, first aid necessities, my trusty to-do list and a couple of other items ensures the kids show up on time and happy for every practice and lesson and that I have all I need for my busy days as well.
Here are some of my top tips and must-have supplies for surviving the back to school season:
- Keep Smart Snacks within Reach. Back to school isn’t only exhausting for kids. Moms and dads get worn down too so smart snacking is important. Pack a supply of nutritious snacks to have in your purse for when you’re running errands or going from school to practice. Itzy Ritzy’s reusable snack bags are perfect for keeping your on-the-go snacks organized and always handy. Fill them with grapes, almonds, carrot sticks and Balance bare® bars for a nutritious snack sure to satisfy both busy moms and kids until dinner!
- The (digital) calendar is key. To make sure no one misses an activity, homework deadline or playdate, color code each kid in your calendar so you know exactly who is doing what and where and when. I love the Cozi app – it’s free and great for organizing your upcoming activities and goes everywhere you do since it’s on your phone.
- Pack bags within your bag. If you’re like me, you have a huge bag. It’s great for storing lots of things, but it can be a wasteland and hard to find anything if you’re not organized. I keep a mini bag that holds my chapstick, hand sanitizer and other items I regularly reach for in a brightly colored small bag that stands out. An Itzy Ritzy snack bag can even double as an organizational bag that’s stylish too!
- Miniature First Aid Kits. It’s helpful to have some first-aid basics in your bag for everyday incidents that are bound to happen. My homemade first aid kit includes Band-Aid® brand bandages, Neosporin®, Kleenex® and wipes. Trust me on the wipes – they’re much more effective than napkins at cleaning up whatever messes my kids have.
- Be prepared for homework. With after-school activities, keep homework supplies in your car and bag so your children can do their work while you’re waiting for soccer practice. Keep rulers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, scissors, calculators and a clip board in the car to make sure you’re prepped for any homework assignments.
- Beauty for all. If you have little girls, you know how crazy mornings can be when you’re trying to get them dressed and out the door. Every morning, at least one of my daughters forgets to brush her hair or decides she wants a ponytail last minute. My bag always has a hair brush, comb and hair bands for quick beauty touch-ups in the car. You might not have time to do it when you’re
- Label everything. With 3 kids, and all the supplies and gear that come with them, I’ve learned to love labels. Before schools starts, I put Mabel’s Labels® on their lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets, shoes, sporting equipment and anything else I can get my hands on. You’ll never have to hear “she’s wearing my sneakers” again and also helps avoid lost items in the school coat closet.
- Pack nutritious school lunches efficiently. Trying to accommodate everyone’s lunch needs is hard. Make their sandwiches and then let them choose 3 snacks for themselves. In your pantry, have mom-approved snacks (like Mixed Berry Nut Balance bare® bars) in three drawers and every kid is allowed to choose 1 item from each drawer to add to their lunch.
- Transitioning summer bedtimes. Yes, I’m probably guilty of letting the kids stay up a little too late during the summer. But that’s what summers are for! However, those late nights are not going to work once school starts, so I like to gradually transition their sleep schedules. 4-5 days before school starts, I’ll move their bedtimes up 10-30 minutes. It’s a slow process but really helps to ensure they’re rested and ready for the first day.
Beyond your bag, here are a few more ideas for getting the school year off to a great start!
Have a good school year!
*Jenny Ingram is a paid spokesperson for Balance Bar