By Caroline Bujold
Well not the back to school part per say, but how early things show up in our lives now to throw us into the future before it’s necessary or we’re ready. I work from home and so I don’t really see the new arrivals in stores all the time. I was at the grocery store recently after being on vacation and being away for work for a big part of the summer, and the freaking Halloween candy was out. I’m all for planning ahead, but seriously? Give me a break!
I don’t have kids, but anytime I start seeing ads for back to school in July, I think gosh, let kids and their parents (and teachers) enjoy their summer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved school and I was excited every September to go back to see my friends and learn new stuff. I just feel like we get bombarded by retailers earlier and earlier. Is it just me or is shopping for a winter jacket in the middle of August is way too soon?
Anyway, I feel like that sort of pressure to get things done way early can completely overwhelm a person and contribute to people not being able to be in the present moment. Not to mention creating anxiety over the fact that somehow you failed in some capacity since you forgot that you were supposed to prepare back to school in the middle of your vacation (insert eye roll here).
So if you feel like you’ve missed the mark and are stressing about it, I’m here to tell you, there is still time and opportunity to get some things done.
Regardless if you or your kids are going back to school, here are a few steps you might want to consider:
1. Inventory – 30 min.
Take stock of what you have that you can still use (supplies, backpacks, outfits, etc.). Figure out what’s missing; either from the list that has been provided to you by the teacher or from your own experience if you’re going back to College or University, for example. Make a shopping list or update the teacher’s list.
2. Speed Declutter – 15 min.
Get rid of the stuff that is not useful anymore: old notes, pen you don’t like to write with, clothes that don’t fit, etc. Recycle – Trash – Donate (put things by the door and take them on your way out the next day). Kids are usually good at this, they will tell you which clothes they like and what supplies they still want to use.
3. Make a plan; set a budget – 30 min.
Decide when and where you’re going to go shopping for the missing items and more importantly how much you’re going to spend. I know everyone wants to save money, but sometimes the few dollars you save by going to different stores is NOT worth your time.
Get creative. If the shelves are picked over and you can’t find all the colour coded supplies, buy neutrals and “decorate” them with the “proper colours”. Labelling is also effective, which you can now find in different colours at any major stores. If you’re the more creative type, washi tape or expression tape ® is also a good and quick fix.
Decide on a budget, especially for clothes. Unless you / your kids go to a school where a uniform is mandatory, you get to decide how much you can reasonably spend on new articles of clothing. You probably don’t need 10 new outfits and 6 pairs of shoes. Buying a few new and shiny pieces and combining it with what you already have, usually works best.
Give your budget a break. It’s highly unlikely that your kids will need everything on their schools supplies list or everything on their back to school clothes list the first week or even the first month of school. So split your shopping up over a couple of months. Buy some now to get them started and then make a second trip a month or so later.
4. Plan your morning routines – 15 min.
Organize yourself the night before. Pick your clothes and little kids clothes, put books, notes and the likes in bags ready to go, prepare lunches and set the table if necessary. Everybody involves participates.
5. Plan for meals – 1-2 hours (1 for planning, 1 for shopping)
Use your go to recipes for this week; you know simple stuff you can make with your eyes closed. At our house these consist of: chili con carne, couscous salad with feta cheese, pasta with pan roasted vegetables in olive oil, fried rice made with store bought roasted chicken, sandwiches, scrambled eggs with cheese and vegetables and my favourite – stuff on a plate (cheese, crackers, veggies and fruit, nuts, hard boiled eggs, etc.). Oh and it’s ok to eat breakfast for dinner too: pancakes, peanut butter toast and fruit 🙂 . During the weekend, or when you have a bit of time, take an hour (or two) to plan, shop and prepare your ingredients in advance. You could also explore catering or take out services for a few meals per week. Some make really good homemade food. Do this every week.
6. Don’t make yourself crazy – no time at all
Think about what made your “back to school” experience enjoyable as a kid. If you’re like me, I’m guessing it probably wasn’t getting new supplies or outfits, I can’t even remember one single outfit that made a difference in my back to school experience. Can you?
Tip of the day:
Timing yourself will help you focus and not wake up and realize you just spent 3 hours on decluttering because you started reading all the nice comments your kids got last year on their report cards or you decided to reorganize an entire house worth of closets.