Here’s the bad news: Back-to-school season is just about here again. Camp bags filled with swimsuits and sunscreen give way to backpacks laden with books, and the care-free games of summer morph into homework.
Back to school shopping and organization can be a pain, but it’s necessary for parents and students who want to be well-prepared come August. Luckily, getting everything you’ll need doesn’t have to be a terrible bore with a bit of creativity and know how ahead of time.
Go through your closet and look at what you have now. Can you work it? Or do you need to dump it, or donate it? The trick is to “shop in your closet”, so you can have more clothes to work with through the year. Re-organize so when you’re done shopping all you have to do is tear off tags and fold or hang up.
Make a word document (or something similar) titled “clothes”. Under your title, make a heading for each child. Now, think about how many tops, jeans, and shoes your kids wear each week. This will help you with guidelines to fit your lifestyle and budget.
Break in new shoes fst by blow-drying them. You’ve heard this scenario before, right? The kids love the shoes in the store, mostly because they’re just sick of having shoes shoved on their feet. But as soon as you get home, boom, the temper flairs. Suddenly, the shoes hurt or don’t fit. Thankfully, there’s a hack for that. Have your child put on thick socks and then stuff their feet into the shoe. Then, use a hair dryer to blow hot air onto the shoe. Voila! The shoes will be broken-in in no time.
Donate last year’s clothes and get money back. If you have teens, you can take a lot of name brand stores to consignment shops and they will pay you a small amount for your gently used items. However, if you don’t buy name brand in the first place, take to Goodwill or a thrift store. You won’t get m0ney on the spot but you will get to write it off come tax season.
Bags can vary a lot. Try to have one backpack for school. This backpack should be comfortable yet cool, have big pockets to put all your books in, and have small compartments on the side to put soda, gum, sunglasses, etc. If you like messenger bags, by all means go ahead. Why not make your backpack fun by putting key chains, signatures of your friends, drawings, and pins on it?
School supply list. Most local stores such as Walmart will have printouts of your school at the store. However, you can go the website of your school district and print out one for each school in that particular district (Ie, high school, elementary, or middle school) as they will vary in supplies that are needed. A good general list is found on Real Simple (Print it here – http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/kids-parenting/back-school-essentials-chFecklist).
Shop during your state’s “tax-free” weekend. All those books, pencils and glue sticks add up. To help parents save during back-to-school season, 17 states currently offer tax-free weekends all throughout August. When you combine the sales, coupons and tax-free savings, that can really help you make the most of your back-to-school budget.
Use apps like RetailMeNot, CartWheel (Target), or Walmart app to score discounts at stores. If you missed your tax-free weekend, don’t fret. Coupon apps like RetailMeNot list the deals that stores currently offer –all from the convenience of your phone. No matter where you’re shopping, from Staples to J.C. Penney, you can search for deals through the app.
Before School Starts:
Help teachers stock their classrooms. Stats have shown that teachers spend hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for their classrooms. Help them help your child by giving them what they need. Donors Choose allows teachers across the nation to request what they need through online posts. People can donate to any post they want, and when a project reaches the funding goal, the supplies get shipped.
Dedicate space for lunch box food. In the pantry and fridge, add a plastic container that can house all of the food you’ve bought especially for the lunches. Not only will this save you time when it comes to putting together the lunch boxes (just pull out the containers and start making), but you can also slap on a ‘hands off’ note and hopefully guard your carefully-planned treasures from wayward snacking children.
Help your kid organize his locker with this cool invention. If your child’s locker looks like a hurricane just blew through it, they could use some Locker Bones. As previously seen on Sharktank, Locker Bones are essentially shelves that can be arranged according to preference. Sadly, you’ll still have to sort through that messy backpack.
When School Starts:
Freeze a wet sponge that doubles as an anti-soggy icepack. Instead of using icepacks, which might soak the lunch contents thanks to condensation, freeze a clean, wet sponge inside a Ziploc bag to use as an ice pack before lunch and refreshing face cleaner after lunch.
Add a lunch box note. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a little love letter in every lunch box is more likely to result in the lunch being eaten. This may or may not be true, but it’s still a lovely way to say hello to your school kid, especially in the early days of ‘back to school’ angst.
Handy uses for school supplies you might not have thought of …
- Make a neat phone camera tripod / stand out of a binder clip.
- Add a strip of clear contact paper over name labels for extra stick.
- Use a three-tier letter tray as an electronic devices rack – you can stack all kinds of devices ready to charge.
- Use sticky-notes to clean along your keyboard keys (oh, the gunk down there!).
- Stick a little pretty washi tape around cords and label them with a Sharpie.
- Use a paperclip if you use the zipper-pull of your children’s school bag.
A lunchbox message center. Instead of buying an expensive, decorative lunch box at the store, design one of your own with this fun, school-themed personal touch. Simply paint the outside (or inside) of the lunchbox with chalkboard or whiteboard paint, then use chalk or dry erase markers to pen your own messages or decorations. If you’re a parent who likes writing notes or reminders to your children, this is especially handy.
Make your own book covers. Crafting your own book covers is a great way to add a creative touch to school supplies — not to mention it’s also easy and inexpensive to do. To create the perfect cover, just add some fun elements like colorful tape (duct tape or washi tape work well), a die-cut design or Instagram-printed wrapping paper.