Back to school already!!!
It's unbelievable school's starting back up and it seems like we all just barely got back home from vacation. All the projects you were hoping to get done aren't quite there yet and you've got to run out over the weekend to get last minute new school clothes, books and bags.
Here are a few tips to get you back into the groove for school!
Make a Plan
I am a list fanatic. I'm all about lists and sub-lists. My go to app is Wunderlist. I've talked about it before but, my goodness, is it so gratifying to check things off that are done and to have everything organized in a way that's digestible.
Create a list for each kid and what they need in terms of school supplies, clothes, shoes, room supplies, etc. Decide what can be used from last year and what they've grown out of. Kids can be pretty particular, especially about growing up. When they are transitioning from elementary school to middle school some things from their past just won't fly. This time of year we end up painting a lot of kids bedrooms because they are tired of the pink and ready for something more mature.
You'll want to make sure that the things they need, what they want and what's out of the question is clearly defined and prioritized.
Set a Budget
Back to School season is the second biggest money making season for retailers next to Christmas. It's huge and they pull out all the stops in terms of trying to get you to spend as much money as possible on your kids. Make sure you create a written budget so that you have enough left over to send them to school with a lunch. Go back to your list and look at prices online for the stores you shop at, like Target, so that you can gage just about how much everything might cost. I still recommend going to the store to save on shipping and because you'll want to try things on and make sure you're buying something your kids will like. They often need to see it in person before they can make that decision.
An opportunity to educate. Going to the store over shopping online give your kids an opportunity to learn. Online shopping tends to drain budgets, especially when your kids go off to college. They go nuts over online shopping and don't really have the impulse control to reign it in. Try this. Instead of going to the store, loading up the cart and then charging it all to the card; take out a specific amount of money and put it in the hands of your youth. Let them make clothing and book bag choices but as they put items in the shopping cart, have them give you the money back in $10-$20 increments. Watch their eyes get big as they see their wad of cash dwindle right before their eyes. Maybe they'll appreciate their items a little more and even make better decisions along the way. I bet they put back a couple of things in order to get the thing they really want.
Find a Deal
Like I said. Retailers are going nuts and the deals are out there. You might be able to find certain things paired together in bulk like toiletries. This is common in college towns like Bloomington because so much of the back to school inventory is for college students. Stores like Big Lots have tons of school supplies for less and because their inventory is made up of overstock you can get great deals on dorm room stuff and beds! You can load up on these items for your own household and save in the long run.
Every year at Walmart during Welcome Week, they have "mid-night madness". It's similar to Black Friday but less hysteria. You can find great deals for school supplies and other items where brand isn't essential. You might also get to do something cool like a Sumo Match!
Do a little digging, find some coupons and don't forget to price match. Most stores will price match with things you find online and even beat it by up to 10% or more. I do this all the time at Lowe's for tools.
Now that you've done all your shopping, its time to get organized. Use the replacement method so you don't end up with too much stuff! Out with the old, in with the new! Take a little time to organize closets. One method I like is to hang my hangers backwards and put my clothes in order according to color. Not just because I'm a color freak! The reason behind it is when you put your clothes together by color you can clearly identify where you have multiple shirts of the same style and color. You might even find two of the same shirt. This way you can take the clothes that are duplicates and bring them to goodwill or to H&M. Did you know that if you bring old clothes to H&M they will recycle them for you and give you 15% off your following purchase? Saving space and money! HELLO! The backward hanger trick is so that you can evaluate after six months which shirts you have not worn at all. As you wear your clothes and put them back put the hangers the normal way and you'll quickly see what you're not wearing.
Homework space! This is the year we're going to use the desks and not the kitchen table right? Make sure your homework desks are decluttered. This might mean getting rid of things that are taking up too much space in other areas or it might mean finding new containers for things that will get used but are in the way. Life is usually less chaotic when rooms are used as they are intended. When you use your kitchen table for homework your evenings will feel much shorter than they actually are. You might think that by having the kids on the kitchen table while you cook will allow you to cook dinner and help them with homework. The problem with that is you'll have to take the time to clear the table from homework and then set it for dinner. If they didn't finish they'll have to reset the table for homework. This could take, surprisingly, up to half an hour most nights. That's 30 minutes that could be spent taking a shower, doing chores, watching a sitcom together or finishing homework before bedtime. Where as a dedicated homework space allows the student to take a break, walk all of 20 seconds to the kitchen and then pick back up right where they left off. This is also an opportunity for Dad to help out with either homework or taking turns with dinner.
Lastly, don't forget to breathe. School brings with it a schedule. It's a busy schedule but it's one that has structure and order. This is a time to recalibrate. Summer was great, we relaxed and unwound but it's just about over and it's time to get back on track for another productive year in the trenches.
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