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11 Best Back-to-School Hacks Our Readers Swear By

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Make back-to-school time easy this year! Our readers are really smart, which is why we asked them about their very best back-to-school hacks.

Getting back into the swing of things for a new school year is no joke. It is hard. The early mornings, the bus schedule, the lunch packing, the homework, the extracurricular sports, the chalkboard first day or school photos. It can be overwhelming, which is why we turned to the most knowledgeable group of people we know to ask for tips: our readers. Here’s what they said.

Back to School Hacks from local moms

#1 Start the bedtime/wake-up time school schedule a couple of weeks before school starts

This was one of the top pieces of advice from our readers. Getting up early on day 1 is zero fun in and of itself. If your kid(s) has been doing it for at least a week or so, it’s a tad bit easier.

Consider planning a couple fun outings the week prior to school starting such as going out for donuts to make the earlier rising time an adventure.

Practice lunch by packing the lunch box and setting a timer for the amount of time that your child has for lunch at school.

#2 Pick out the clothes for school for the entire week.

Multiple readers said they help their kids to lay out clothes for the whole week on Sunday or tell their teens to do so themselves. One reader even had a brilliant idea to use hanging cubbies to put clothes for each day. And this is why we ask our readers these questions.

#3 Don’t buy a brand new “back to school” wardrobe

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans with school-age kids are spending upwards of $867 per kid on back to school supplies and clothing. That number is enormous but can be cut back without going all out for a new wardrobe for your kids. There are tons of consignment shops and sales to make use of to help get your kids a new-to-them wardrobe.

Also, consider purchasing just a couple outfits at the beginning of the school year versus an entire new wardrobe. Your kids might change their mind on what they want to wear after seeing what other kids are wearing and the colder weather is just a couple months away.

#4 Meal prep

Many of our readers noted that prepping meals ahead of time for during the week is a lifesaver when getting back into the swing of things. One mom even prepares one big meal at the beginning of the week that can feed everyone for several nights and just switches up the sides to add variety.

Anything you can prepare the night before such as packing lunches will also make leaving the house on time in the morning much easier.

Setting up a breakfast station the week before with breakfast foods ready to go can also make the morning move smoother.

#5 Take the “first day of ____ grade” pictures the day before!

As yes, the First Day of __ Grade Back to School photos. You know, the ones where you’re desperately trying to get your kid to school but then remember you want to memorialize the occasion but need a chalkboard and pen and paper and nothing else that you have right then but are already late? Yeah, those. Do them the day before school starts. Reader Kerry says, “Just chill. The chalkboard thing doesn’t have to happen; neither does posting to social media. Let them dress for comfort instead of trying to dress to impress.” Another mom said she just has her kids hold up the number of fingers to correspond to the grade they are going into.

#6 Don’t schedule any appointments that first week of school

No doctor appointments. No dentist appointments. Nothing that will give you even more stress than you’re already handling. Schedule them for a few weeks out from the first day of school if you can.

#7 Use Alexa to help you remember things you/your kids need to do

One reader said she programs her Alexa device to set reminders about things her or her kids would likely forget like when the library book is due, what day of the week her kid(s) needs to wear gym shoes or a reminder to plug in the Chromebook.

#8 Plug in that Chromebook

Be sure to plug in the Chromebook on Sunday night because going to school with a dead laptop is no fun.

#9 Keep the social life to a minimum

One mom said she has found that restricting weekend plans for the first few weeks into the school years has helped her kids to get the relaxation they need and helps them to focus on the new school year.

#10 Use your calendar to keep up with events

One mom said she plugs all of the school events into your calendar on her phone before the school years so she knows what to expect and can plan for events.

#11 Keep all school-related things in one place

Mom Stacy has this amazing idea: “I have a back-to-school binder. It has the school calendar and sections for each child for their supply lists and forms teachers send home for platforms the kids use, passwords, usernames, etc and contact lists.

Anything important that’s sent home, especially those early weeks, goes straight in the binder. The supply list stays so I can touch base with the teacher through the year on possible extra needs or send in extras that are consumed quickly.”

What’s your back-to-school hack?

East school night dinners

And then there’s dinner.

Get some new ideas: School-Night Dinner Secrets from our readers