1.Have a look through the kids’ closets. Do the clothes fit? Too long, snug, short? Both my kids have grown like weeds over the summer. It’s all the yummy food and drink at grandparents’ in India. Nani ke ghar jayenge, lambe ho kar aayenge.
2.Is your child starting Kindergarten? Take a closer look at the clothes from a 4 year-old’s point of view. Can she do up the pants on her own? I avoid bows, pretty buckles and hooks and reserve the frills for the weekend when I am around to help. When my younger one started Junior KG last year even the button and zip combo was too much for her and I ended up buying new clothes in the second week of school. Who has the time for that?
Tips for Buying the Backpacks
3.The backpack has to be the right size, fit and light enough to be comfortable for developing backs. It also needs to be large enough to fit a lunch bag, a library book and the diary for the little ones in Kindergarten. The pockets should be flexible accessible to tiny hands and the zipper strong and larger in size. For older kids the backpack needs to also fit a binder and possibly a laptop.
My kids are going back to school this year with last year’s backpacks. And even though my oldest thinks her childhood is forever deprived (so begins the tween angst) my frugal heart simply cannot get rid of bags that are in such good shape. If you’re doing the same then look over the backpacks closely esp. the seams and zippers. They should all be functioning and in really good shape. You can always buy a new backpack halfway through the school year.
4.Stationery. Start with what you have from last year and in your desk. Younger kids really only need a pencil, sharpener, eraser, a few crayons and markers. Go less rather than more and consider the weight on their backs.
Making Sense of The Chaos
5.Get a calendar so that you are prepared to note down the swim days, gym, library, music and everything else that starts from Day 1. An erase-able calendar like this one from Melissa & Doug worked really well for us last year.
6.Folders to organize FORMS. In many schools in North America along with the stationery list in the first week parents also get some 1800 forms. That onslaught of paper continues the entire year, and folders help manage a lot of the chaos.
7. Lunch boxes are a big part of back to school shopping. I have big concerns about the plastic that we bring into our home, starting with the food storage containers. At the same time plastic is light and easy to carry so it has found a place in my kitchen as long as it meets the criteria on my checklist. Also consider a thermos flask for older kids for warm lunches.
8. Lunch bags with thermal insulation that are easy to open and clean. Inside mesh pockets for napkins and cutlery are useful for school.
9. I’ve learnt my lesson with water bottles many years ago when the cutest bottle I bought ended up with mildew on the inside of the base! Look for simple, easy to open and wash, light in weight and of course metal.
10. Bookmark some recipes on Pinterest and online so you’re ready for that first week when kids are tired and need a little bit more TLC than usual. I re-purpose leftovers – keema-roti (mince meat curry with naan) becomes Indian-style Spaghetti Bolognese or the other way round. Eggplant fritters and savoury pancakes make great lunch box additions along with vegetable sticks or berries and yoghurt.
11. Get a rotisserie chicken on the first day of school. You will thank me on that first week when kids are cranky and hungry at 5 pm. Check out my kitchen timesavers for easy and healthy shortcuts in the kitchen.
The Last Week Of Summer
12. While school for many of my friends in the US has already begun, in Canada the first day falls on the first Tuesday in September after Labour Day. Getting organized the week before really helps to get the family on track for the start of early morning hustle. Sleep time and meals scheduled around the school bell help with the adjustment, and early to bed and early to rise is a good mantra for that week.
As we count down the days to the start of school, I know the last will be the biggest hurdle in our home. The summer month have been all about slow days, late mornings, travel and family time. Now it’s time to get back into the rhythm of school, and I’m looking forward to it. What about you?