End of Summer = Back to School
Does that statement make you say “YAY!” or “OH shit!”?? It’s officially the end of summer and while I’m eager for my girls to head back to school, this time of year always gives me such anxiety. Our summer days are laid back, carefree, and not very structured. Back to school, on the other hand, means scheduled days ahead – school, activities, homework, and appointments. My inner drama queen is screaming “I’m not ready”!!
I’ve found that three steps help me better prepare for the huge transition that is back to school. They are: simplify, plan, and prepare. Pair my simple tricks for the summer to school year transition with a delish pumpkin spice latte, and ditch that Hot Mess Mom title along with me! (At least, for the month of September anyway…)
- De-clutter. The last couple of weeks of summer is the perfect time to get rid of some junk. I like to plan a “power hour” for each day, during which I’ll tackle one manageable area to completely downsize in one hour. One dresser, one closet, one tabletop, etc. I remove everything from that area and place each item into one of three piles: keep, toss, or donate. For anything being kept, I assign a place for it that is logical and organized.
- Don’t over-schedule! Go into September with a goal to prioritize the must-do activities, and pretty much say no to everything else. The first month back to school is hectic and can be stressful for both kids and parents, so skip the playdates until everyone is in a good routine.
- Daily schedules. Sit down and actually write out what a typical day should look like for both weekdays and weekends. It doesn’t need to be to the minute, just enough to provide a high-level outline. This way, both you and your family get into a routine, and bigger goals and tasks won’t get pushed aside when you run out of time by the end of the week.
- Meal planning! I absolutely love to cook, but find it to be a huge stress point when I have no plan in place. Since my grocery shopping day is Tuesday, I try to bang out a plan either Sunday night or Monday morning. And I always stick to one main principle when meal planning: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). During the week, or really throughout the school year if you ask me, is not the time for elaborate meals or fancy new recipes to try. I have a short list of easy family favorite meals that we eat on replay. Many of which use the pulled chicken recipe I make in one big batch for the week! (Scroll down for the recipe!)
- Command center. I put one of these together last year, after becoming completely overwhelmed by the amount of paper that comes home from school. I mean, come on! Don’t they know that’s bad for the environment?!? You can stay basic with this or go all-out Pinterest worthy. My simple command center consists of a monthly calendar, hanging compartments for paperwork, and a memo board for quick access to stamps, business cards, and other important items. The hanging file has a slot for each kid and one for the household. I added clips to the front of each one for items needing action. The calendar is just a stick-on chalkboard version, and I only write when we need to be somewhere outside the normal routine.
- Bedtime. A week or two before school starts, begin moving bedtime earlier by 10 minutes each night. With my youngest I ended up hiring an amazing sleep specialist (Best. Decision. Ever!!) and learned that we put our kids to bed WAY too late! My girls are [almost] 4 and 7, and they have a 7:30 bedtime. It makes everything – literally everything – so much easier. Since we deviate from that a bit over the summer, I’ll gradually move up their bedtime until we’re back on track by the first day of school!
- Talk it out. Toward the end of the summer, start having discussions with your kids about the upcoming changes. This helps to get them excited while also managing expectations and preventing an abrupt alteration to their current routine (or lack thereof).
- Get school shopping done early! Whether it’s supplies or school clothes, don’t wait until the last minute. Procrastination = anxiety. We do most of our clothes shopping right out of my boutique, and I love being able to rely on their quality and comfort. For everything else, we had a fun trip to Target!!
- Practice runs. This is especially helpful for kiddos starting a new school, but honestly it can be a great way to help everyone get back into the swing of things.
Now that we have a plan of attack in place, don’t you feel better already?! So get out there mama and rock your back to school game — you got this!
XOXO — Claire
Bonus: Back to School Recipe!
Super Simple Crockpot Pulled Chicken
- 3-5 Boneless skinless chicken breast (depending on how many people are in your family and the size of your crockpot)
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- Olive oil (optional)
- Lay the chicken breast in a single layer on the bottom of the crock.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil, then turn to coat the chicken breasts. This is optional, but adds some healthy fat.
- Cook on Low for 3-4 hours, or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees F.
XOXO -- Claire