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Beat the Back to School Crush

Get advice on how to make a return to school more fun and less stressful for you and your kids.

It’s back-to-school time and I’m not kidding, Based on what retail industries would have us believe, school has already started and Christmas is well under way!

By now you’ve likely received teacher assignments and supply lists with an endless inventory of necessities. In the past, I’ve rebelled against the list and waited until the week before school to get my supplies, only to find the shelves nearly bare.

So the reality is, it’s time to grab the glue and get back to school.

But before you run off with list in hand, take a minute to think about a few things from a mom who has seen a few fall seasons.

These days we’re all trying to save a buck here and there. So if you’re not afraid to be cheap like me (and maybe embarrass your children by sending them to school with last year’s backpack) try these cheap tricks:

The same box of crayons you used last year will likely suffice this year. At the very least go through and condense the colors from the backpacks, drawers and craft bins until you get a full set. The same goes for pencils. I have so many half-used pencils stashed around the house to supply a year’s worth of writing tools for a class of 25 kids.

A lot of last year’s folders will fit the bill if they still have two working pockets. Simply put large white stickers over the label from last year and you have a brand new start. Chances are the ruler, compass and scissors from last year are still in the bottom of the school backpack. Or wherever you put them if you’re one of those clean-out-the-backpack-at-the-end-of-the-school-year types. There’s no need to buy brand new supplies just because they are on the list.

A few things you should probably grab ahead of the game: brown lunch bags for those field trip days, sandwich baggies for everything from me-bags to lunch meat and scrap paper for those homework sheets. I like to use graph paper, especially for math homework. It helps keep the kids’ work looking neater and more organized.

Back-to-school clothes shopping brings back memories of trips to the mall to pick out cords, sweaters and lovely fall outfits. Your kids quite honestly can’t wear those warm fall outfits during the first two weeks of school, much less the first day of school!

As I’ve found, investing a lot of money at the beginning of the season can backfire. Kids grow at crazy rates and within months can shoot up a few inches or put on a few adolescent pounds. Feet seem to get bigger overnight. Grabbing a few things to make the school start special is a good idea, but don’t overdo it.

Speaking of the first day of school, as the kids get ready to immerse themselves in another new year with new classmates, teachers and lessons, it’s good to put ourselves in their shoes.

Going back can be stressful and induce anxiety.

I can remember worrying about who to sit by on the bus or in class, or how I would find my classroom or teacher. Help them cope by attending the open classroom sessions at the end of the month. Start weaning them off the late-night bedtime routine and back into well-rested early mornings at least a week before school begins.

Most of all, treat going back to school as a fun but relaxed event. If parents present things in a positive light, children will likely follow that lead.

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