Guest Post by Lori Pace of A Day in Motherhood

Back to School conjures up images of new clothes, school supplies and the endless hunt for the perfect backpack.  With everything that kids need these days to succeed in school, the budget can be busted quickly.  And so can mom’s (and dad’s) patience as they hunt down that perfect pair of jeans!

Since my kids are still little, I am trying to get a routine for the season and modify it only slightly for the years to come.  But there are some things that I already know work for me and I thought I would share them with you!

Start Early – One of my biggest frustrations last year was getting my kids to bed at a decent time and waking them at a reasonable time.  I did not try to modify their sleep schedule ahead of the first day and I paid for it dearly for weeks to come.  So this year, with only 3 weeks left until the first day jitters, I am already setting a sleep schedule.  And even though two of the three only go to preschool part time, I am still including them in the process!  I know that having them in bed at a decent time and up when they are supposed to be, I will eliminate a lot of busy, school morning, stress!

Get Them Used to the Daily Schedule Now – Most people who have had kids in school know, generally, what their children’s school day schedule is like.  We have a timeline in our heads of what and where our children are at any given time of day.  With that in mind, I am trying to get my kids accustomed to that schedule at home now.  I believe that part of being successful is being prepared.  So serving lunch when they would normally eat, doing craft and reading time around the same time and even letting them play outside at the time they normally do can help them be prepared for their days.  From young children to teenagers, any type of routine can make adjusting to school easier!

Get The School Year Schedules Now – Head to your school’s website and get the school year calendars now.  This can help you plan for days off, special events and other events that can break the routine and leave you floundering for child care and/ or activities through out the year.  Last year I waited to be told through the bring home folder when happenings were held and the last minute scrambling left my head spinning!

Organize your kids clothes ahead of time – My kids are at that age where they want to dress themselves.  Unfortunately, if it is in their drawer, they want to wear it.  So before I use the valuable back to school coupons that I find in the paper, at check out and get in the mail or online from my favorite retailers, I will be cleaning out the old.  Not only does this help me from overbuying as I know exactly what my kids have, but I will know that the only thing in my kids drawers are the school appriate outfits.  No mom wants to fight with her daughter on a school morning about the hot pink pants that are two sizes too small paired with the zebra print shirt that should have seen a trash can the year before!

Plan Ahead – there is nothing worse than getting to the store, hunting for that back to school supplies list on the display, finding out that the sheets are gone and then throwing everything in your cart thinking you’ll take what you don’t need back later.  Because you won’t.  And you’ll overspend.  And you will miss something.

I plan ahead by preodering the entire school supplies stack from my school’s website.  I have priced what I spend on the pack – about $50 – versus the cost of loading up three children and heading to the store and digging through deals to get the best price and it turns out about the same.  So, if you have this option, try to use it.  The supplies are placed on your child’s desk the day school starts!

If you do not have this option, head your school’s website and print out the supply list before you head to the store!  Highlight what you need and write next to it what you expect to pay.  By the time you get to the store, you’ll have a reliable list and a realistic expectation of what to spend!

Be Realistic – In all honesty, no matter how well you plan or prepare, there are going to be things that come up to add stress to the craziness of back to school.  Knowing that around any corner can be something to send you into a tailspin can help you put on the breaks and deal with it realistically.  From lost lunch pails on the first day to the melt down that your child might have when they find out their BFF is not in their class, being realistic about your expectations is important.  Flexibility, humor and deep breaths are all back to school items that should be in your backpack!

If you want to learn more about the author, you can meet her here.