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6 back to school sanity savers

Back to school challenges are common for most parents, but if you’re prepared, back to school doesn’t have to be a difficult and stressful time.

This post offers 6 suggestions to keep you back to school savvy.

Back to School Help

6 back to school sanity savers

1. Buyback to school supplies at the right time

Begin to watch flyers for sales on school supplies. August and September are when you will find the best deals on school supplies.

Take inventory of what you have and what you need. Staples offers a back-to-school supply list by grade, but sometimes their list includes a few items you may not really need, so be mindful of that.

Related: Back to School List – Everything for Just $10!

Purchase a few disposable items (glue sticks, pencils, erasers) to tuck away for mid-year. When I keep them accessible in the office, they tend to disappear quickly. You don’t want to run out by December!

Purchase some supplies reduced by 75%-90% to tuck away as birthday gifts.

2. Organize children’s wardrobes

Does anyone else have children who believe in trying on more than one pair of pants in an hour is a violation of their human rights?

Regardless, I do torture each of my children with a pants-try-on-athon. We decide which pairs get donated, passed down to a sibling, or thrown out (yes, some really are that bad!).

Donate Kids Clothes

I keep 1 Rubbermaid bin per child in the basement for them to grow into. I shop clearance at Real Canadian Superstore, find brand names at Value Village/Talize and even score on Kijiji at times.

I also stockpile shoes since each child needs an indoor and an outdoor pair. We go through shoes very quickly around here. One day they are fine – the next day a toe can see daylight. Best to be pre-paired (get it?).

3. Ensure lost items are returned

One of my children had a year where more items were lost than found. Boy, was I glad I used Mabel’s Labels? Hats off to the brilliant moms who created these funky labels that are kid-friendly and practically invincible.

To save money, I recommend ordering labels with your LAST NAME so they are not child-specific. Ours have been passed down from child to child, with the labels perfectly intact – even in shoes.

Here is a link if you would like to order your own: Mabel’s Labels for Kids

Walmart also carries Mabel’s Labels in their school section – you can write your own name on them, and they will be the same fabulous quality.

4. Prepare for the barrage of papers

Ikea Paper Organizing

Back to school means lots of papers coming home each day. Save your sanity by getting ready for the papers before they start to arrive. I bought a Helmer cabinet from Kijiji (pre-assembled – yay!). There are 6 drawers, so each boy gets 2 drawers for themselves. They are labeled, for example, Ayden-School, Ayden-Crafts.

When papers arrive home, we sort them into recycling/keep and the boys put the “keep” pages into their “School” drawer. The crafts drawer is for their artistic creations or keepsakes.

At the end of the year, we do another purge and store the “really must keeps” in a filing cabinet downstairs.

5. Making back to school lunches easier

Hands down, the most dreaded job for parents is usually making lunches on school days. I found an option that will simplify this process immensely.

My mom bought these for my boys for Christmas (well, really for me!). Lunchroom supervisors would ask me where I found the boys’ lunch systems. The boys used them daily for 6 months and they still look brand new. They are on the higher end for lunch boxes, but worth every penny.

Lunch Boxes Planet Box

They are from a company called Planetbox. Their stainless steel containers are easy to load and simple to wash.

I make 4 lunches at a time – 3 for my school boys and 1 for my toddler. When my toddler is ready for a snack, I can pull out the box with prepared nibbles. We love the Rover (medium-sized) but if you have a really big eater, you might consider the Launch.

I can not believe how quick the lunch prep process is without having to hunt for containers, lids, etc.

6. Save your coins

September is notorious for notes coming home from school, asking for money. These include money for combination locks, field trips, and random expenses. Last year, one of my son’s had a field trip for $8.37 last year, and the school requested exact change. Seriously?

Have a jar with coins ready so you aren’t left scrambling on a school morning.

I hope these back to school suggestions help you prepare to face September with a new sense of calm. These sanity savers sure help my family each year and am hopeful that they help yours, too!

What is your favorite back to school tip?


  1. Sandra

    WOW, exact to the penny!! What will happen now that the penny is gone?? Why wouldn’t the school just round up to $8.50 or $9…

    Have you done an article on pre-made school lunches?? I am looking for more ideas to have for pre-made lunches so I don’t have to make it every night or at least all of it, some would be already done…

    • Karen

      Great idea for a post – we’ll see what we can do.
      Keep those ideas coming!
      One thing I do for my Planetbox lunches is assemble everything except the sandwiches and stack the boxes in the fridge overnight.
      Easy-peasy in the morning to throw in the sandwiches.

    • SeriousSally

      Hi Sandra, have you tried checking out Pinterest yet? If you do a search for “kids lunches” and “lunch ideas” you will get so much inspiration and ideas. So much creativity out there and the possibilities are endless and so yummy 🙂

      • Sandra

        I have checked Pintrest, found lots of lunch items, but not to much in making lunches ahead of time for the week…

        I am looking because hubby and I are going away and the kids are being left with the in-laws… My oldest will be in school and want to prepare the lunches so it’s less for my MIL to deal with, plus the school has A LOT of stipulations to follow in what we can and cannot send for lunches and snacks…

  2. D

    Planet box is crazy expensive… with four kids putting that kind of money up front is crazy. And then at some point someone might lose a lunch box at school… I would faint.

    • Karen

      I sure understand – 4 kids myself.
      That’s why I was so thrilled “they” got them for Christmas from my mom.
      She bought them the package with all the bells and whistles, but I mostly just use the stainless steel container and they pop it in their backpack. Saves a lot.

  3. SeriousSally

    The coin jar has saved my butt on so many occasions I can totally vouch for that one. So many dance-a-thons, fundraisers etc…where they’re expected to bring in a loonie or toonie. And then there’s the book fairs. The change really comes in handy.

    Planetbox looks fabulous but way out of our budget. I’ve been using the Rubbermaid LunchBlox system and the kids love them. They’re affordable, and easily replaceable when a piece goes missing. Usually Walmart and Loblaws are well stocked with them.

  4. Nicole

    I ‘pre-package’ a bunch of my own items into individual containers or ziplock bags such as cookies, muffins, granola clusters, trail mix, etc. so I can just grab & go or grab & put in lunches for the week. Items like muffins & cookies I can put in the freezer (eg bin of individual muffins in ziplocks) and take it out for the lunch & it will be thawed by lunch time and keep other items in the lunch bag cool. I also chop veggies & put in containers for grab & go. Fruit is harder to do that. We always seem to need to grab food & snacks for activties, sports, going out, etc.

  5. Linda

    Love those lunch boxes! I’m a big fan of Mabel’s Labels too.
    What a great idea to stock the gift closet now, with so many good deals in the back to school sales.

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