It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or something like that. School is almost here and there are a thousand things left on your to-do list. But that’s nothing compared to the craziness of the school year ahead of you.
Want to give yourself a little less of a headache in the coming months? Check off as many of these items as possible. And remember to breathe.
1. Book those pesky appointments
You know the ones we’re talking about – the dentist and doctor visits. The flu shots. The hair cuts and all those other self-maintenance appointments you always forget about. Get them all booked up now (for you and the kids) so that you can plan ahead and around these necessary occurrences. Heck, while you’re at it book your pets’ vet appointments and the furnace inspection, too.
2. Maintain the car
Even if it’s still a little early for that oil change, you’ll be pumped that you took care of this now, rather than waiting a couple of months when the oil light comes on right in the middle of the Busiest. Week. Ever.
3. Create a menu board
There are zillions of awesome free printables on Pinterest. All you need to do is pick one you like, print it out and frame it; wipe markers work wonders on glass surfaces. Not only will this help you with groceries, but you’ll never have to wonder what’s for dinner on a random Tuesday again.
4. Stock up on awesome Tupperware
Know what’s the key to planning meals in advance? Having great, BPA-free and microwaveable containers at your fingertips. You might also want to consider stocking up on Mason Jars. They’re perfect for soups and salads on the go.
5. Make some freezer meals
Having lasagna for dinner tomorrow night? Why not make three or four and throw the extras in a deep freezer? You’ll thank yourself in a few months, when you just don’t feel like cooking and need something comforting and quick.
6. Stock up on quick breakfasts
Cereal or granola bars, Fruit 2 Go… whatever your kids like, be sure to have it on hand. Because while you have every intention of sitting them down to a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning, we all know that sometimes things don’t exactly work out as planned.
7. Sign up for a delivery basket
For $35-50 a week you can get a big basket full of locally sourced, often organic, fruits and vegetables delivered right to your door. Which means less time in the grocery store for you. And let’s face it: as much fun as some people try to make grocery shopping sound, it never actually is.
8. Research alternative lunches
Packing lunches seems fresh and fun in September, but holy heck do they get old after about a month. Take the guesswork out of it by researching sandwich alternatives now, and creating a go-to list of packables for the coming months. Having favourite “recipes” on hand to choose from when your creativity is running low may just save your sanity.
9. Keep track of the craziness
If you haven’t already, start a giant-sized calendar full of all the activities, appointments and important dates in your life. While you’re at it, you may want to consider adding a command centre to some part of your home. Seeing everything in one place will help you feel a little more zen, and a thousand per cent more organized.
10. Create file folders for the kids’ stuff
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a simple accordion file folder with basic tabs will do. Organize it by report cards, permission slips, assignments and the like, so that your kitchen counter doesn’t turn into a loose-leaf paper display.
11. Write down important numbers and contact info
Seriously, write them all down and tack it up somewhere safe like the fridge, or on your newly created command centre. Include everyone, from immediate family members and caregivers to school contacts. If your phone ends up covered in orange juice again and stops working, you’ll be so damned thankful.
12. Get the kids on a sleeping schedule. Now.
Want less of a headache come the first day of the school year? Begin a school-influenced bedtime routine now. The kiddies should hopefully be less cranky by the time the actual school bus rolls around, which means they have a way better shot at actually making it. That translates to less stress for you.
13. Dole out the chores
Now might be a good time to remind the kids that the dog days of summer are over. They’re starting a new year, which means they’re expected to carry a little more responsibility, right? Make things clear by posting a chore chart or a wheel somewhere where the whole family can access it. They might not always abide by it, but at least there’s a visual that may make things easier come cleaning day.
14. Set up or reevaluate your budget
Odds are you already have some working form of budget, but once the school year starts we all want to get back on track. Either call up your financial planner or sit down with the old excel sheet and start looking ahead. Because the thing is, before you know it the holidays will be here. And we all want our credit cards to be in the black long before then.
15. Make a morning checklist
How many things do you forget in the morning? Expect your kids to do the same, and then stay two steps ahead of them by writing it all down for them to check and double check. Teeth, homework, lunch? Check, check, check.
16. Stock up on essentials
If you’re the type of household that always runs out of toilet paper and paper towels, now may be an appropriate time to head to Costco and buy that stuff up like it’s going out of style. Because nobody wants to hear that the last roll of toilet paper was used up three hours ago. Consider adding laundry detergent, dish soap and toothpaste to that list.
17. Stock up on cards and stamps
If you tend to leave birthdays and thank yous to the last minute, buy a stack of birthday, blank and thank you cards to have in the house at all times. That way there’s no last-minute scrambling to pick up a card at the pharmacy the next time you’re out.
18. Book a babysitter in advance
Don’t have plans for the foreseeable future? It doesn’t matter. Adults need their own time too, so be sure to schedule it in. Ask the babysitter for a few nights throughout the next few months now, then take advantage of a well-deserved night off down the line. Otherwise you might just lose your marbles.
19. Back everything up
We don’t just mean the computer, either. We mean the keys, passports, driver’s licenses, insurance and more. Basically if you think you’d be lost without a copy, make one. (Okay this makes life in general a little easier, not just life heading into the school year.)
20. Make a list of passwords
Everything requires a password these days, doesn’t it? We mean… everything. So do yourself a favour and write them all down in a secure place. Be sure to update that list as new passwords pop up throughout the school year. You’ll thank yourself when you mix up your bank account login with your Spotify account… again.
21. Check the expiry dates
There’s no greater dismay than realizing that tube of Tylenol you’re reaching for during a migraine has expired or that the tuna you were planning on tossing in a salad for dinner is too old for safe consumption. Check the expiry dates on all your pantry and pharmacy items now so that you can stock up and not worry about it later.
22. Download an app
At some point you’re going to feel as though there’s just too much to keep track of. That’s why there’s an app for that. Look into a task management app to keep you on schedule and on top of that ever-growing list so you don’t feel completely overwhelmed come October.
23. Cut yourself some slack
Even if you’re a huge planner, know that life always gets in the way of even the best laid plans. That’s why preparing yourself to go with the flow is always one of the best strategies to deal with whatever this crazy school year throws your way. Forgive yourself, and remember… there’s always ice cream and pizza.