plan for a successful school year

Beat Back-to-School Blues by Planning for a Successful Year

Does anyone else feel like the summer flew by? Just two weeks before summer break I was talking myself into not having summer dread. I was really hoping I would not be overwhelmed this summer with all four of my kiddos being home from school. I told a few close friends that know me well that this would be the summer that I didn’t have too much of a plan. That the kids and I would just go with the flow. Then, the day before summer break began I panicked and created a summer schedule that I was sure would keep us all sane and loving each other over the next 75 days.

I think we used the summer schedule maybe a total of 8 days. I've actually really enjoyed relaxing with my kids this summer and not having the pressure of a schedule and to-do list. Sometimes you need a good rest and no plans. Now that we are all refreshed, my bunch will be heading back to school on Wednesday.

Although this mama allowed for time to have less structure this summer, I didn’t throw all caution to the wind. Today I want to share with you how to rock those back-to-school preparations and set yourself up for a successful school year!

From purchasing school supplies, to figuring out what your kids will be packing for lunch and making sure that they have good friendships, I will be dishing all my best practices right here on the blog for the next couple of weeks. Be sure to stop by frequently - you definitely won’t want to miss this new series!

Over the next month I will be answering the following questions:
  1. How do I best support my kids' teachers?
  2. How do I help my kids navigate friendships?
  3. What should my spouse/co-parent be helping with to get the school year off to a good start?
  4. How do I choose what activities my kids will participate in for the upcoming school year?

I want to start this series by helping you navigate the next couple of weeks. Although some schools have started already, I know quite a few still begin after the Labor Day holiday, which means there’s still time to prepare those school supplies and begin getting your kids on a new school year routine.

For those of you who have already started school, just tuck these tips away. Some of the things I’m going to discuss are things that you can be doing throughout the year to make for a smooth transition into the next school year.

Stocking Up

Many parents dread those supply lists because let’s face it - they can be a bit of a financial drain! This is why I like to buy personal supplies during the previous school year. For example, I like to purchase backpacks and lunch boxes in April or May for the following school year.

You can’t always know what is going to be on the teacher's class supply list, but you do know that your kids will need new shoes, socks, and underwear. I typically purchase these items 2-4 weeks out. We did shoe shopping 2 weeks ago and can I tell you what a relief it is to do the shopping in stages instead of waiting until the last minute and having the stress of crowds, tons of money spent, and figuring out who gets what!

I buy pencils, glue sticks, crayons, project boards etc in bulk for my kids. I usually take a trip to Costco and we stock up for the year. This way we are not stuck in the wee hours of the morning if someone has a project coming up and we don't have a needed supply.

Setting Expectations

This also leads me to my next point. Teach your kids to be planners! When my kids have projects coming up they have learned (due to natural consequences…I’m not helping you the night before a big project is due, you will be on your own) to tell me in advance! I’m a planner and I don’t thrive well under the pressure of having to stay up and figure out the cuisine of a bald eagle at the last minute.


Do you have a morning and night routine? This was a game changer for our family. Now that my kids are a bit older they fall back in to the school routine pretty easily. So we usually get back on schedule the week before school starts. Hallelujah for 8:30 pm bedtime, can I get an amen!

Here's what our morning routine looks like:

6:00 am - Kids alarms go off they wake up and get dressed. Clothes have been laid out the night before by the kiddos because we don’t have time to fight in the morning about what they think they should be wearing.

6:20 - Kids hang pjs on hook, make their beds, open their blinds, turn lights out and everyone files downstairs

6:30 - Big kids put final touches on lunches and pack snacks while mom and dad get breakfast together

6:40 - All kids eat breakfast

7:00 - Kids brush teeth and get hair combed

7:15 - Everyone piles in the car and we are off

Our kids are pretty good about the routine. For younger kids you can incentivize if you are having a hard time getting them to get it right away. Most days run very smoothly with our routine, but we do have days where kids meltdown and our parenting is tested. Our kids don’t have to be to school until 8:15, so we do have margin for those days. My oldest likes to get to school early so we do try and leave at 7:15 most days.

Here's what our evening routine looks like (this varies if the kids are doing activities):

5:00pm - I'm giving marching orders in the car about 10 minutes away from home. Then the kids recite back to me what they need to do when they come inside.

5:10 - Kids come in and take off shoes, wash their hands, change their clothes, and have a snack

5:30 - Kids do their homework and play (for whoever is done with school work and the littles)

6:30/7 - Dinner time

7:30 - Dinner clean up and baths

8:00 - Make sure clothes are out for tomorrow and backpacks have been packed with all important papers

8:15 - Story time

8:30 - Lights out

Of course you would adjust this to your kids' ages, activities, and abilities. But this has worked well for us over the last 4 years. Having the kids on a schedule also gives my husband and I quality time most nights. Our marriage is not centered around our children. They go to bed so that we can have couple time!

My kids are so excited about the new school year! They have two more sleeps until they meet their new teachers and friends. We hope that you have a fun and productive school year. We will be praying for your teachers, friends, and of course you!

(Ps - Don't forget to snap a photo of your kids on their first day back to school! We are loving these cute printable photo signs from our friend Kelsey at The Home Loving Wife!)

I'd love for you to share your tips below. What are some ways you get ready for the new school year?