By Roxanne Donovan - Organization
August is a tricky time for our family. It’s the month our school-age kids start their new year. This means there are supplies to buy, lunch menus to determine, summer homework to nag (um…support) the kids into completing, teachers to meet, and nerves to soothe.
Because my partner and I are academics at the same university, it’s also the month we start our new school year. This means we have classes to prepare and endless campus events to attend - meetings, retreats, workshops, ceremonies, the list goes on.
As luck would have it, the start dates for the kids’ school and ours have landed on the same day the last several years.
The. Very. Same. Day.
The chaos was real the first time this overlap happened. A lot of things fell through the cracks. It was ugly and stressful for everyone. Not good.
We now use a variety of tricks to minimize back-to-school chaos. These techniques simplify life, improve family communication, and help us show up physically and emotionally for our little ones. I share five of these tricks below.
Please note I receive no compensation or benefit for the products I endorse. I just really like them.
1. Calendar apps rock
I don’t know what I would do without our calendar app. My boo and I use it to share kids' appointments and deadlines. We prefer this to sharing our entire calendars. We even note who is responsible for each item we share to minimize “I thought you were in charge of this” arguments.
2. Name stickers save time
No more spending hours writing kids’ names on every textbook and piece of clothing. Instead, I use name stickers and get the job done in a third of the time. The stickers are dishwasher and laundry safe so they stay put. Bonus: I delegate the sticking task to our 9 and 11-year-old. It’s something they can do without us having to supervise or redo. Yay!
3. Shopping list app is a must
With three people doing school and grocery shopping (my mom lives with us), our shopping list app saves us lots of frustration, like double purchases or, worse, missed items. Anything that needs to be bought – lunch ingredients, clothing, books – is put in the app. The same list is on everyone's phone and removals/additions are updated instantly. Our app even organizes groceries by category, making them easier to find in the supermarket. LOVE this feature.
4. Outsource where possible (without judgment)
If you have the funds, outsourcing tasks during high stress times can be a lifesaver. Our family typically doesn't outsource. But all bets are off in August. During this hectic month, we have been known to order groceries online and get dinner delivered.
The best outsourcing find, though, is this back-to-school supply company. The company works with schools to determine the supplies required for each grade. Parents then have the option to use them to purchase all – yes, I said ALL – their kids’ supplies with one click. The supplies are even delivered to each child's classroom prior to the start of school. It’s magical. No more running to a million stores looking for that eight-pack of metallic markers or schlepping supplies to school. I could kiss the company’s founder for giving me loads of my precious time back.
5. Scan everything, lose nothing
The amount of paperwork that marks the beginning of the year is intense. I had dreams of keeping all these papers in an organized bin, making them readily available when needed. This never happened. The paperwork either didn’t make it to the bin or the bin got so stuffed no one could find anything.
Now I scan and save all important documents to our family’s shared Dropbox folder. I even save to Dropbox information from the school’s online portal and website. That way all needed info is in one place. No more misplaced items or frantic searches. And everyone has access to the information, even on their phones. Bonus: Having a school folder for each child reduces confusion about which information is for which child.
I invite you to try these tricks to help your family make back-to-school time less stressful and more enjoyable. If you have a trick of your own, please post in the comments below.
In peace and solidarity,