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Back to school is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about preparing for back to school. Tackling that back to school to-do list can be overwhelming, so here are some tips & tricks to help you out. Plus score a FREE printable to help you prep for the upcoming school year!

A notebook, tape, stapler, pens, scissors, post-its, and markers on a table.

I can’t believe summer is almost over! The thought both makes me giddy (a couple of hours a day kid-free! Less whining, fighting, and complaints of hunger and boredom!), and sad (the time I have with my kids goes by too fast!). Summer is full of fun, togetherness, and a relaxing, laid-back feeling.

But either way, school starts in about three weeks here, so whether we like it or not, it’s time to start prepping and planning for the school year ahead. Over the next three weeks, I’m going to talk about back to school–prepping for it, routines, encouraging reading, setting goals, life hacks, and school lunch in my Back to School series.

So let’s dive right in with today’s topic–preparing for back to school by tackling that back to school to-do list:

Step One: List Out Your To-Dos

Don’t freak out, but it’s time to list everything you need (or want) to accomplish between now and the first day of school. This can include things that are school related, as well as things that are just better accomplished during the summertime. Here are some ideas to get your brain going:

  • Go through the kids’ clothes, getting rid of and/or storing anything they’ve grown out of or worn out
  • Make a list of clothes items the kids will need over the next year (or season, depending on how you tackle clothing purchases)
  • Purchase school supplies
  • Prep and stock a school lunch packing station
  • Create a morning routine
  • Set-up a kid’s command center
  • Make and freeze some easy breakfasts
  • Set goals with the kids for the upcoming school year
  • Finish your summer bucket list (you can list out specifics here)
  • Plan a fun back-to-school dinner party
  • Create a tech/media plan for the school year
  • Enroll kids in after school activities

Break Things Down

It can be helpful to break each item down into small, manageable steps. When we look at our to-do lists and see a big item like “enroll kids in after school activities” it can seem overwhelming, which means we’ll often put it off as long as possible. But if we break that item down into small steps, we’ll feel less stressed and better able to tackle them one and at a time.

For example, you could break “enroll kids in after school activities” down into the following steps:

  • Talk with spouse and decide on an extracurricular plan for the year/season
  • Share that plan with the kids and ask which activities they want to do
  • Research various leagues/studios/etc.
  • Look up times and try to create a schedule that works for the whole famiy
  • Enroll kid #1 in activities
  • Enroll kid #2 in activities
  • Enroll kid #3 in activities

Another example is “make and freeze some easy breakfasts”:

  • Look up easy breakfast recipes and choose favorites
  • Make a grocery list
  • Go to the store
  • Make items & freeze

Even small items can often be broken down further, like breaking “purchase school supplies” into 1) Make a list of needed school supplies and 2) Go to the store to purchase items.

When things are broken down step-by-step, they’re much more likely to get accomplished. For more info on this concept, check out this post.

Step Two: Make a Plan of Action

Now, look at your list and answer two questions about each item:

  1. When does it need to be accomplished by (if date specific)?
  2. Is this a must-do (like getting school supplies), a should-do (like going through kids’ clothes) or a want-to-do (like finishing the summer bucket list)?

Once you’ve done that, you can start to create a plan of action for these last few weeks of summer. Try to tackle the things that MUST get done first and the things you WANT to get done last, with the should-dos in the middle. Also, put the things that need to get done the soonest earlier on your plan of action.

Things to Consider:

  • Will you be out of town one week? If so, you may want to try to tackle more the week before you leave.
  • Do you not get school supply lists until a couple days before school starts (like we do)? Then make sure you schedule in time the day before school starts to grab supplies.
  • Is there something you need to order online? Make sure you give yourself adequate time to order it and have it shipped before school starts.
  • You may want to add some of the tasks to your calendar, as appointments. This will help make sure they get done early on so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. I know I sometimes procrastinate (out of necessity–too much to do, too little time), but when I schedule something in at a specific time, I know to put that first (and things like laundry or dishes might backslide that day). But this saves a lot of stress in the long run!

Preparing for Back to School

I created these FREE printables to help you make your back-to-school prep to-do list. There is both a color version and a black and white version.

Download your free printable in color here or by clicking the image below.

A back-to-school to-do list printable

Download your free printable in black and white here or by clicking the image below.

A to-do list for back-to-school

What’s your best tip for preparing for back to school?

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