Getting in The Groove Of Back to School {and some tips!}

Back to school time came quickly for us this year.  I felt barely ready for the early mornings, 20 papers to sign each day, and making sure we had lunch stuff on hand to make lunches.  As we tweak our routine there are some things that have helped that I thought I would share.

Michelle over at Make 5 Dinners in One Hour, has a wonderful tutorial on pre-making lunches for the whole week.  This works well for homeschoolers too!  It will save you time and stress.

Well Planned Day, On the Go Planner, July 2011 - June 2012Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner, July 2011 - June 2012

I purchased the Well Planned Day, On the Go Planner for this year.  For years now I have used Google calendar to keep all of the homework assignments, snack days, field trips, etc… straight. I have loved that I can add to it with my iPhone as well.  However, this year I felt the need to have a calendar that I could see everything that is coming up ahead of time and that I could write in.  The Well Planned Day Planner is so much more than a calendar! It is a meal planner, gift organizer, budget keeper and more all rolled into one.  Last year I LOVED using the Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner for myself (best homeschool mom planner EVER, if you ask me!) and the student versions for my kids. Since all of my school age kids are going to school this year I look forward to having the benefits of the planner again in the non homeschooling version.

Last but not least we are ironing out our after school routine.  It takes some getting used to when you’ve had a whole Summer to get out of the routine!  Our schedule looks something like this:

  1. 30 minutes for snack and “debriefing” after school
  2. Homework completed
  3. Lunches prepared for following day
  4. Free time.
  5. Before dinner chores
  6. Dinner
  7. After Dinner Chores
  8. Get ready for bed, including lay out clothes and shoes for tomorrow.

This plan makes morning time much more stress free and enjoyable for everyone!

How’s your back to school routine going?  Do you have any suggestions for what is working for you?  Anything not working?  I’d love to hear from you!

How to Save BIG for Back to School!

Back to school can be lots of fun with new clothes and backpacks and crayons with the points still on them. It can also get expensive pretty quickly.  So how can you save BIG for back to school?  I have a few tips to help you do just that.

First of all, be watching the deal sites.  They tend to have back to school deals for things like clothing, shoes, kids labels, gear like lunch boxes, backpacks, and food containers as well as educational items like games and flashcards, etc…

If you are shopping online be sure to go through a site that gives you cash back when you shop. Some of my favorites are EBATES and Shop at Home.  Every time you purchase something online you earn a percentage of your purchase in cash back. 

If you are shopping for school supplies check all of the flyers in your local paper for the best deals.  Remember that places like WalMart will match competitors add prices.  Just take in the ad and show it to them at checkout.  This saves you time and money.

Another great way to save money is to use last years backpacks and just update them with Paknaks (I have a giveaway for them going on right now) or patches that you find from a craft store.  I like Paknaks because they are super easy to put on and each design velcros on so you can change them out if you want.  My kids love them!  In the past we have also purchased iron on initials and designs to create a personalized backpack.

Have other ideas on ways to save for back to school? I’d love to hear them!!

Balanced Day Lunch Kit

I was searching for lunchboxes for my kids and came across the Balanced Day Lunch Kit and I think is just what I need.  The bags have 2 compartments and many different ways to use them.  One side can be for hot food or beverages and the other for cold stuff.  One side could be a for a snack and one for lunch.  One side can be for school supplies and the other for lunch.  You could even use one side for baby bottles and the other for baby food.  They come in several different neat designs.  A major plus for me is that you can throw them in the washer and hang them to dry.