Tips for a smooth start to school

  • By Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
  • Monday, August 15, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

It may seem hard to believe, but the lazy days of summer are almost gone. It’s time to sharpen those pencils, buy some new shoes and get ready for a new year of school or work.

Before you rush out and get caught up in the office-supply-store madness, here’s a little advice:

1. Don’t skip the paper calendar. Yes, we know. You have an iPhone, Blackberry, Outlook calendar, whatever. But there’s nothing like an old-fashioned calendar on the wall that inspires everyone to write in activities and appointments.

2. Do start kids on a back-to-school routine in advance. It’s so hard to go from the flip-flop casual days of summer to the 6 a.m. wake-up call and full day of school, sports and other activities. Don’t shock their systems with a dramatic schedule turnaround.

Start waking the kids at their earlier time a few weeks before school and have them get used to going to bed earlier.

Getting them ready a few weeks before doesn’t cut their summer fun, but gets them prepped for school days.

3. Don’t be a school-supply hoarder. Have you looked in your drawers lately? You probably have a growing collection of pens, markers and rulers, so when you get those school-supply lists, check the drawers first and then buy one set for home and keep it centrally located.

Each child doesn’t need a stapler and a protractor, so if it’s all in one spot, it’s homework-ready for the day that geometry homework comes home.

4. Create a master calendar and synchronize it with everyone. Sit down with the school calendars now and mark all the important dates in the family’s calendar.

Make sure you and your spouse put in requests for time off now so that you can attend those events you absolutely, positively don’t want to miss, like your kindergartner’s first day of school.

Need to remember the two-day soccer tournament in October? Write it down. Whether you need to ask for time off or need to avoid double-booking, writing it down now will help you enjoy the upcoming events.

5. Don’t rush out for new clothes. Yes, we know, the commercials have been baiting you for weeks. Cute back-to-school clothes are all over the place, and you don’t want to miss out, right? Well, turn off the TV and turn on the computer.

Before you hit the department stores, check out eBay. Do a little searching and you can often find brand-new or slightly used clothes at a fraction of the price.

Another option: Wait until the end of September to buy fall clothes, and then even later to buy winter items.

By the time kids need to wear them, stores will be trying to make room for next season’s clothing and the things you need will likely be on sale.

6. Do find ways to make heading back special. Whether your child is starting a new school or beginning school — or this is her last year home with you before going off to college and the world — don’t forget to make it special.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to

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