Back to school prep: Tips for success

By Crystal Paschal, Family and Savings Blogger

Summer is coming to an end, and before you know it, we parents will be packing up our kids and sending them off to school for another year. We’re always telling our kids not to put things off until the last minute, but it’s important for parents to plan ahead as well.

What can we do now to ensure we’re ready for the first day of school?

Start changing bed times and wake times NOW

If bedtime has been 10 p.m. all summer, expecting your kids to go to bed at 8 p.m. the night before school starts may have disastrous results. Waking your child at 7 a.m. when he’s used to stumbling out of bed at 10 a.m. could be similarly messy. That’s why it’s so important to start changing your child’s routine now.

Move your child’s bedtime up in half-hour increments every few days. Start waking them a half-hour earlier as well, and get them used to a routine of getting up, eating breakfast and getting dressed – even if you’re just spending the day at home. Making these changes the week before school starts will create less of a “culture shock” for your kids when the big day comes.

Do as much as you can the night before

This is a great tip for kids and parents. Get your kids in the habit of prepping for their school day the night before. Have them choose their outfits and make sure all their homework is in their backpack before they go to bed.

Parents can pack lunches the night before, make sure permission slips are signed, and take breakfast requests. In our house, there’s a lot less rushing around in the morning when we all prepare the night before.

Set up a lunch station

Tired of packing lunches every morning? Have your kids do the work! Create a lunch station by labeling different containers with all the elements of your child’s lunch: protein, carbs, drink, chips, dessert and so on. Fill up the containers with various food options, and let your child pick one item from each container.

This allows your child to feel as though he has a say-so in what he has for lunch. It also saves you time; instead of packing a lunch every day, you simply have to refill the containers every week.

Stock up on school supplies while prices are low

Kids are hard on school supplies, and often their notebooks, pens and boxes of crayons don’t make it through a whole semester, let alone an entire school year. Buy everything your child will need for the school year now, so you can take advantage of the back-to-school specials.

Glue will only be 10 cents for a few weeks, so seize the moment and buy a few more bottles than you need. Whatever you don’t use this year can be saved for next year. And speaking of saving money…

Add extra money to your back-to-school budget

I recommend adding $50 to $100 to whatever you plan on spending for your back-to-school expenses. Why? Because unexpected needs always come up. There will be something your child needs for a class that wasn’t on the supply list. Or maybe they’ll join a sports team or club that requires extra fees.

You might buy all those back-to-school clothes, only to find that your child outgrows them in a month. Not a year goes by that we don’t have some unexpected expense come up. Plan ahead for those expenses, and if you don’t end up using the money, you can treat yourself to something nice or save it for the next unexpected expense!

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Crystal Paschal is a wife, mom, teacher and writer. You can follow her adventures in parenthood at her blog Mom For Less, and keep up with her daily rants on Facebook and Twitter.

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