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Back to School Checklist

I always have mixed feelings about my kids going back to school.  By the end of summer I’m usually ready to regain some sort of schedule, but I dread getting back into the business school brings.  Plus I get so sappy every year knowing my girls are moving up a grade and are getting one year older.  I totally bawled last year when Addison started Kindergarten (and according to my friends I had no business doing so since she wasn’t my first and I still have one more baby home – ha!).  We still have plenty of summer left around here (my girls don’t start until the beginning of September) but I don’t want to make the same mistake I made last summer.  Last summer I didn’t start thinking about preparing for school until about a week before.  The backpacks I tried to order on-line were sold out.  School supplies were picked over.  Kole was so hard to shop with that I was only able to get the girls one or two new things to wear.  None of this was that big of a deal, but more than anything I didn’t love that I spent our last week of summer running around feeling stressed instead of enjoying that time with my kids.  So to ensure that doesn’t happen again, this weekend I made a back to school checklist.  Of course I did!  Because what’s better than a good checklist, right!?  :)  My plan is to start slowly getting ready for the beginning of the new school year so that as summer winds down I can relax knowing that I’m on top of things.

1) Buy backpacks and lunch boxes.  Check!  

I was strolling by Pottery Barn Kids in June (my girls were still finishing up last school year) and noticed that all of their summer backpacks were on sale.  Score!  I knew I didn’t want to make the same mistake I made last year…
Identical backpacks were a joke.  Even though I had their names on them we still got them mixed up a time or twenty.  Ellie’s homework would end up in Addison’s backpack, Addison would end up with two water bottles, etc.  I’m all about making my life easier this year!  Now let’s just hope they don’t both want the same one. 
2)  Buy containers for water.  Check!

These are my favorite water bottles for my girls’ lunches.  I bought them at Target.  They have a lot of different styles and I’ve tried most of them.  These hold up the best and they keep the water ice cold all day long.  The button is easy to push and a straw pops up making them less likely to spill all over the place.  Again, I got them two different styles.

3)  Buy the girls each two pairs of shoes.  Our school has a closed toe shoe policy so no sandals or flip flops.  I need to find them each a good pair of running shoes and then something a little more feminine that will work with skirts.  This is always my most dreaded back to school purchase.  I hate shoe shopping with my kids!  I’d elaborate on the pains of it, but I don’t think there is any need.  Those of you who have kids know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you don’t, consider yourself very lucky.

4)  Sort through all of the clothes in the girls’ closets and drawers.  I’m going to sort through every article of clothing they have and clear closets of anything that doesn’t fit them and they aren’t wearing anymore.  This will give me a good idea of what I need to buy for each of them.

5)  Shop for clothes they need.  Easier said than done with my little man in the picture.  Definitely getting a babysitter and just taking the girls this year!  I think we’ll also get lunch and make a fun “girls date” out of it.  :)

6)  Get all medical forms signed by the doctor.  Take forms and medication to the school nurse.  We have a child with allergies so we always have a ton of forms that need to be signed by our pediatrician and our allergy doctor (almost as fun as the shoe shopping).

7)  Print supply lists and shop for school supplies.  YEA!  My FAVORITE part of back to school!

8)  Make appointments for all three kids to get hair trimmed.

9)  Create ways to simplify our morning routine as much as possible.  School mornings are crazy at our house.  Mostly because my two year old senses that it is a busy, rushed time and naturally does everything in his power to make life difficult.  It’s what two year olds do best.  :)  I’ve been thinking a lot this summer about what I can do to make mornings run a little smoother and allow for more Kole hiccups.  Aside from getting lunches and backpacks ready the night before, I also want to start picking out outfits for the girls a week at a time.

I love this hanging outfit sorter (sorry I couldn’t find the link!).  The only problem is that I don’t have room for something like this in the girls’ closets.  So here is another option I’m considering –

Making some sort of daily labels for a weeks’ worth of outfits.  (You can buy these here.)  Every Sunday I’ll pick out a few outfits and the girls can pick out a few outfits.  Then everyone is happy!  I’m planning to have them pick out every little thing right down to the headband they are going to wear in their hair that day.  Then we are sticking to our outfit plan!  No more clothes debates in the morning!  No more “this is too itchy… this skirt doesn’t fit right…”  and then three outfit changes per girl later we are finally ready to walk out the door.  I never thought I’d be an advocate of school uniforms because I love clothes so much, but by the end of last year I would have welcomed the thought of my girls having to wear the same thing every day.  I’m over the outfit drama!  
10)  Be prepared with a variety of school lunch ideas.  Man.  This is a hard one for me.  My school lunches are so boring.  I’ve been pinning pictures of some fun, creative ways to serve my girls their lunch in hopes that they will start eating everything instead of coming home with their apple slices still sitting neatly in a zip lock bag untouched.  Here are a couple of fun ideas I’m going to try – 
Love the idea of putting cheese, fruits and veggies on a stick.  

  I’m also planning to use cookie cutters to cut some of the girls’ food into fun little shapes.  
And of course I’ll continue to leave napkin notes in their lunch every day.  
One of our favorite daily traditions.  :)
I don’t have time for anything too crazy creative, but these ideas are an easy start to making school lunches a little more fun.
So that’s it!  My back to school checklist.  Baby steps all the way to a smoother transition.  :)

xoxo, Erin
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30 thoughts on “Back to School Checklist

  1. This is a great list. When my girls were younger, we would try the picking out outfits for Monday – Friday, but it never worked for us. Good luck to you! :)

  2. I’m jealous that ya’ll don’t go back to school until sept! my boys have to go back aug. 10! although, i’m ready to get back into a routine as well… i’m also sad they are another year older.

    we bought my oldest’s back pack while we were on vaca last May. and got all our school supplies this weekend! i’m relieved to have that done (because last year I was like you and rushing around the week before while everything was picked over!).

  3. My kids go back after labor day to and we’ve already bought most of our stuff.We have the closet hanging bag from lillian vernon (they have both girl and boy colors)and it is a big time saver.I add socks and underwear and what ever my daughters wearing in her hair that day.

  4. These are great tips Erin. I ordered E’s backpack already but I definitely need to get on the other stuff so that I am not a crazy lady come labor day!

  5. I hate hate shoe shopping with my daughter. She’s 9. I can’t believe it is so difficult to do. My sister and 2 friends has volunteered to take her. We cannot come to an agreement on shoes.

    Thanks for the wonderful checklist.

  6. We got our email for school supplies last week so I have got to get going too, I made the mistake of waiting too long last year also. That wasn’t fun.all the shoes and uniforms are bought though so that’s a pretty good start. I gotta ask though, how come you buy new backpacks every year? Man, I buy a good heavy duty one for first grade and it lasts for years. I buy bigger ones for middle school, but new ones each year would get pretty darn expensive. Just curious.

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Nif – I’m curious to see if it works for us! It might be a flop, but I’m so desperate to have a better system for clothes that doesn’t involve outfit meltdowns and changes every morning.

    Hi Lindsey! Our backpacks are always pretty trashed by the end of the year! My kids use them for summer camps at the beach and take them camping so by the time September rolls around we are due for some new ones. :) So nice you can make yours last longer!

  8. Your list looks very similar to mine but I have never written it down before! Not a bad idea though.

    I don’t really like shoe shopping either with any of the kids. I think it’s a chore because they always need new ones. I used to buy my daughter way too many – so tempting- and now I try to stick to 2-3 as well.

    I did what I never thought I would…bought school supplies early. We don’t start until September either but by August everything at Target that made any sort of list is gone! So all of our school supplies are sitting in a shopping bag, ready to be labeled in a month and a half. I HATE buying supplies after the 4th of July but over the last 3 years I learned it’s a must if you want to get anything.

    The cute backpacks everywhere (especially PB) are so tempting, but we really don’t need new ones so will be re-using the same bags and lunchbags again this year. My middle is going into Kindergarten and I think his small backpack would work best.

  9. Really great ideas!! I just can’t get over how organized you are :) Another blog that has great lunch ideas for kiddos is bleu bird. And most of the stuff she uses is healthy and/or organic. Lunches are really hard!

  10. Thanks for sharing! These are all REALLY great ideas! I’m definitely making those hanging tabs for M-F. So simple!!! (I may need to make them for my closet too!)

  11. So funny. I just made myself the same sort of list even though here in NY we don’t go back to school until September too! I mapped it out by weeks. Last two weeks of July get school supplies and backpacks. Then each week in Aug take one kid clothes and sneaker shopping. And the last week in Aug get haircuts.

  12. Love this post! Erin your blog just makes my day. You are lucky to have such a long summer break. Here our kids go back next week. Do your girls go to your local public school or are they in a charter school? I totally agree about the uniforms, as long as they are easy to access and not some hard to find plaid skirts or something, they make life much easier! Unfortunately, we have to travel to find the uniforms for our kids. Your kids are beautiful, you are such a great mother! You are really an inspiration! Keep up the good work Erin! :)

  13. I love the checklist that you shared, this is my first time having to get ready for school. My daughter will be starting Kinder this year and I am already nervous. She starts next Monday yikes!!! Here in AZ schools start early and hers is one of the earliest one. One easy thing is that they use uniforms so those are all ready to go. Got her a backpack, school supplies,and a pair of shoes. lunch box is ready to go just need to get the cup for water. I guess I need to make another trip to Target.
    Thanks for Sharing

  14. Great list…this is the first year my one is in school full day, starting 1st grade. Just curious, what size PB backpack you get, small or large? Plus do you buy any special food containers for their lunchboxes?

    Thank you!

  15. Thank you very much for the reminder Erin! I went and looked on my son’s school website and printed the list and then went straight to Walmart and got all school supplies including a super cool avengers backpack and matching tin lunch box! Now I just need to get him school clothes and shoes and were good to go come September! PS The supply bins were almost empty, it seems most parents are on the same page with getting stuff early. And I lvoe your girls backpacks and lunch boxes.

  16. We don’t start until Sept either, and it just feels crazy to think about school already! But just this morning I was chatting with friends about how we need to go school supply shopping soon. Even the supplies run low at Target if you wait too long. (My favorite is that in kindergarten they get all the supplies FOR you & you just write a check. Perfect!)

  17. Thanks guys! So happy to hear that I’m not the only one who dreads shoe shopping with kids!

    Kimberely and Jessi – Thanks for the great sites for school lunches! I’m going to check them all out for sure.

    Anonymous – Thank you! That was such a sweet comment. It made my day. :) My kids go to public school (although we’ve considered private school possibly at some point). They actually don’t have a super long summer break – we just don’t get out of school until the end of June when a lot of schools get out in May.

    Alodie – I got my girls the large backpacks. I’ve done that every year after Kindergarten. I bought some of those Pottery Barn food containers years ago and still use them along with ziplock bags for their lunch. Hope that helps! :)

  18. Thanks anonymous! So happy you got all of that done today! It feels so good to have that stuff checked off the list. :)

    Rachel – that is exactly what happened to me last year! Target was missing most of the stuff I needed because I waited so long. Those school supplies go fast! I’m heading out to get mine tomorrow!

  19. What suprises me, is that parents are required to buy teacher school supplies as well! I had to buy dry erase markers, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, tissue, zip lock bags, copy paper, etc. My parents never had to buy that sort of thing when I was a kid. It just seems like the school should supply those things. Now I have two packed bags of school supplies. I’m thinking of those unemployed families and even the homeless ones who are still sending their kids to school, how in the world are they going to pay for this stuff let alone get their kids school clothes? Im thinking that I am going to donate my son’s clothes that dont fit him anymore to a needy family on craigslist instead of the good will, that way they can get the stuff free.

  20. Fantastic list! I’ve been making notes here and there, thinking I’m so prepared this year because I’m done buying all the supplies – ha! Your list puts my little notes to shame. ;) My oldest starts Aug. 8th, so I’d better get moving!

  21. Erin, great ideas!!! For the girls school clothes do you tend to get more jeans or skirts/dresses? Do you shop for Kole also when you go to get the girls clothes? I know these are really random questions but I love to shop and I am curious how you do it? Also, do you get a bunch of clothes just for them to go back to school, or get a few then and more throughout the year, considering San Diego’s weather? Great blog and happy school year! :)

  22. Love it all!!! great ideas..i too am trying to get organized! I have a 2 year old missy..she is nuts in the morning and starting to care what she wears..already? ..and a picky 7 year old fashion conscious BOY!! so love the picking the clothes out for the week..I am teacher school supplies shopping..thanks for a great list!

  23. Thanks everyone!

    Anonymous – I know! It really is crazy how much we buy for school supplies each year. I think part of the reason that schools have parents give as much as they do is to also help cover those kids whose parents can’t afford school supplies. That always makes me feel better about the crazy amount I spend on supplies. (Well that and the fact that I just love buying them!) :)

    Next anonymous – hi! Thanks for your sweet comment! I mostly buy skirts and dresses for my girls but only because that is what they both prefer to wear. I buy a lot of skirts with shorts inside of them since they want to be in a dress but also want to flip upside down on the monkey bars at recess. :) I also buy a lot of leggings to go under dresses and skirts. I usually try to get them each 3-5 new outfits to start the school year in (if I can mix and match things it ends up being plenty for the first few months of school). Then I buy random clothes for them throughout the year when I’m out and about and see cute things on sale. I also try to get them each a few outfits for Christmas. As far as Kole goes, I just get him random things once in a while when I’m shopping. He is so easy to shop for! Hope that helps. :)

    Paula – sounds like we have a lot in common! :)

  24. My 9 year old had the worst temper tantrum when we were at Nordstroms buying shoes. That whole closed-toe shoe thing doesn’t fit in with her fashion plans. I still bought the pair of Keene’s that she swore she would never wear….and she has worn them, but I am NOT looking forward to shoe shopping for the upcoming school year.

  25. Hey Erin, We too have a child with allergi es wld love a post on how you organise and action plans etc with a child with allergies.I am too scared to leave him with anyone and I am dreading organising him for school.Help!!! I too think your AMAZING.Jayne Western Australia

  26. I cried when I left every one of my kids at kindergarten. In fact the first day for me is still a little emotional, I just miss my kids. :). Do those water bottles have a name or brand, those are exactly what I need. One good/bad thing our school district does is just charges a fee and they buy all e school supplies. Good in that I don’t have to worry about them and they can get better prices buying in bulk, but sad because I LOVE school supplies. So I just have to buy some for myself. Lol

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