The Ultimate Back-to-School Survival Guide for Parents

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, that’s right, it’s.... back to school. Yippee! Not having fun yet? Let’s see if we can change that, together. Read on!

Like the holidays, we all know how stressful -- but also joyful -- the start of the school year can be. No more scheduling activities to keep your kid busy over the summer? Sweet! Getting your stuff together to make sure your kid has a strong start? Womp womp. It’s a lot to deal with. (When, exactly, is wine o’clock again?)

For all you busy parents out there, we’ve pulled together 5 pieces of advice for feeding, clothing, and otherwise setting your kids up for success this school year. May you and your kids conquer the classroom!

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Prep It or Regret It

A Monday morning is no time to snooze… or scramble through your closet. Finding just the right outfit to survive the sweltering September weather and meet your kid’s new teachers is no joke!

The solution? Laying out your outfit the night before. This makes sure that you have something ready to go when you’re shuffling around the house in the pre-coffee hours. It also avoids any ironing emergencies and subsequent before-the-bus hassle.

Just don’t let your small child pick out your “flatman” for the next day, like Kristen Bell did, or social media might get the wrong idea.

DIY: Delegate It Yourself

As a parent, you know your job is to raise your kids to become kind, responsible, and thoughtful adults. But it can be so hard to let go! Sometimes, you get so used to managing your family’s day-to-day that you forget that they need to learn independence in order to become responsible. So let us say it for you: If your child is old enough to go to school, they’re old enough to do things for themselves. Think of stepping back a bit as self-care – and smart parenting, to boot!

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How to fight the urge to step in? Put some structures in place to stay strong. We’re talking signs taped to the back of the door (or fridge, or front of the television) with morning and after-school reminders. Like a checklist of what to bring to class that day, for example, or a schedule for what they need to get done after school. (Pro tip? Stickers are everything. Get the kiddos to follow through with a sticker subscription like Four Bears Sticker Club.)

Setting up a system like this gives you a little breathing room, teaches your children to think for themselves, and shows that you trust them to hit those goals. It also teaches them, in small ways, any consequences that come from being irresponsible. (Forgot their homework? Oops. They should have peeped the reminder you posted by the front door.)

We Hate to Say It, But… Meal Planning

Yeah, we know -- as if you have time to spend a whole Sunday afternoon cooking giant batches of food for the week. When you already have to run errands and water the scorched flowers in the yard and take your kids to soccer (or karate, or piano, or T-ball) practice? It’s like the weekend is for catching up on the past week instead of getting ready for the week coming up.

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But listen: you don’t need to prep for the whole week of meals. No one has time for that. (Unless you have an Instant Pot, or a meal kit subscription like Takeout Kit or Culinarie Kit. And if you do, why are you reading this? You’ve clearly got it together.)

Prep breakfast for the week and your family will be good to go with a well-rounded, healthy start to each day. We recommend something like overnight oats, which sounds food-blogger fancy but is basically just cold oatmeal. Here’s how to do it:

  • ⅓ to ½ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ to ½ cup milk of your choice (whatever works as long as you use an equal ratio of oats to milk)
  • Nut or seed butter of your choice
  • Some kind of fruit (either small berries, raisins, or cut-up chunks of larger fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds (if you have them)
  • Pinch of sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup, sugar, etc.)

And that’s it! Mix these in a mug or small jar, then stash in the fridge to thicken up. You’re done in five minutes, tops. Make a bunch of them and you’ve got breakfast for the kids -- and yourself -- Monday through Friday.

In the morning, all you need to do is take it out of the fridge! And if you’ve got a huge day ahead and are feeling it, you can throw a glob of Greek yogurt on there for added protein come breakfast-time.

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Bento Boxes are Just Fancy Lunchables

Think about it. You know it’s true. What is a Starbucks-style protein box if not Lunchables for professional adults? And if Lunchables were good enough for you back then – and still are – they’re good enough for your kids. But they’re way better and healthier if you assemble them yourself.

Pick up some multigrain crackers, cheese cubes (or nut/seed butter if your kid’s not a cheese person), some fruit, and a hardboiled egg or cold cuts. Bam! You’ve got lunch – and enough protein to keep them going until the after-school snack. (Need help scoring snacks? Take a look at Savvy Snack Box for natural, organic snacks delivered right to your door. Even easier!)

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Anyone who’s had to help their child with homework – whether (eesh) outlining an essay or (yikes) practicing algebra – knows the unique challenge of pretending like you know what you’re doing. It’s been how many years since you were in school, and they expect you to remember stuff like the FOIL method? Nope. Not gonna happen.

Thankfully, there are free online solutions to refresh your memory. Sites like Khan Academy offer free lessons on everything from K to 12, plus preparation for tests like the SAT and even college admissions. Check out boxes like Club SciKidz Labs, Bitsbox, or Learning Crates to learn with your child about subjects as different as science, coding, and language arts.

Basically? With our help, you can rock that tutoring session. And with these tips, you’ll rock the entire school year.

You’ve got this!