Back to School Countdown

order times, clinic serif;”>Every Family Needs a Back-to-School Countdown! Heading back to school takes mental preparation (for both you and the kids!). But if you're like most parents, getting everything prepped, primed and done in advance just isn't in the cards. Don't sweat it: not everything has to be done at once. Use this guide as your countdown for what to accomplish when for smooth sailing into the school year.


Schedule your check-ups. If your school requires a visit to the pediatrician, call to schedule your appointments now. You'll up your chances of getting seen before school starts.

Pay the school a visit. If your child is attending a new school or even just switching grades, visit the school to get her excited for the year to come. Locate the classroom, bathroom, and front office, and if your child is entering middle school or high school, suggest she walk the route of her class schedule to ease nerves about finding the rooms on the first day.

Start to get organized. Involve your kids in a fun organization project, such as creating a "project bin" where you'll store all those little plastic toys, and odds and ends that kids inevitably collect. Jamie Norak, author of The Get Organized Answer Book, suggests sending kids on a scavenger hunt to find objects to add to the bin so you can use them in dioramas or other projects that come up.

Two Weeks Out:

Shop! Hit the stores to pick out some back to school clothes, or at least a first day of school outfit.

Create “Control Central.” Designate an area of your home where you’ll keep your calendar, phone messages, and a bulletin board. Kathy Peel, author of The Family Manager, says you can also make “inboxes” for your kids. The inboxes can be places where your kids unload and pick up permission slips and forms that need to be signed.

Manage supplies. If you come across back to school sales, stock up. “It’s wonderful to get good deals on supplies, but everything needs to then have a home,” warns Novak. “Nothing’s worse than buying items on sale and forgetting where you put them so you have to buy them again at full price.” Dedicate a space in your home where everyone knows to look for supplies. 

Make play dates with school friends. Between camps and vacations, your child probably hasn’t seen many of his school friends over the summer. Set up some play dates so he can catch up and feel more comfortable when heading back to school with familiar faces. 

Have a family celebration. “I like to plan some kind of special trip to a water park or a special cookout,” says Peel. “This helps show our excitement and gives us the opportunity to remind our kids that school is their ‘career’ and ask them about what they would they like to accomplish this year.”

One Week Out:  

Go to orientation. If your child is going to a new school, be sure to attend the orientation so he’ll be prepared for school and is able to reconnect with old friends.

Get on schedule. Ease your child out of the lazy days of summer sleep-ins to the bright and early school mornings by gradually changing bed and wake-up times to be closer to the school schedule.

Figure out transportation. Will your childbe traveling by bus, bike, or car? Figure out the details now, and work out a schedule with your spouse or carpool.

Have a safety talk. If your child will be riding the bus or her bike to school, talk about bus and bike safety. Additionally, pick code words for friends or caregivers who may pick your child up from school so your child will know it’s OK to get a ride with them.

Set your morning schedule. Work backwards from the time you need to leave the door in order to figure out how much time each child needs in the morning. Peel suggests adding in an extra 10-15 minutes for snags, as well as coming up with a rotating bathroom schedule and assigning kids tasks to help out.”Delegate chores like feeding the dog and selecting who will be the ‘town crier’—the person who gives the whole house a ’10-minute warning’ with a special bell or buzzer,” she says.

The Night Before:

Get everything ready to go. Make sure the first day of school outfits are clean, backpacks and lunches are packed, and that everything is ready to be picked up on the way out the door. 

Write a note. To help calm first-day jitters, write your child a little note and stash it in her backpack or lunch box. Kids feel special and cared for when they discover the secret message. 

Breathe. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about your lack of back to school organization, Novak says to remember that “school’s going to come, and your child will be happy and healthy no matter if she has 12 brand new colored pencils or not.” Try picking one thing to accomplish that will help the morning run smoothly, and you’ll already be in better shape.

The Morning Of:

Build in some extra time. Wake up a few minutes early so there’s time to give your child extra special braided hair, snap a few first-day pictures, and not have to rush out the door. 

Give yourself kudos. Heading back to school can be stressful! Give yourself a pat on the back for making it through the big day.

Original article byAlisa Stoudt of



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