Back to School Parenting Hacks


Undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year - September is here! You know it's coming all summer, but we've all been guilty of procrastinating and knowingly lying to ourselves that we've got it covered. As parents of tween and teens, you know that won't be the case. The chaos is coming and it's coming soon. That why, we've pulled together some parenting lessons, advice and what's worked for other parents to help you ease the transition into the school year as painlessly as possible. We hope some of these ideas help! Godspeed, my friend.

Sync Up to Organize Your Schedule

You know you need to plan out your schedule – everything from work, school events, sports games and practices, travel schedules, birthday parties, meetings, etc. You name it and it should be on your calendar. It can be so easy to let “back to school night” slip your mind and then realize you have a super important work meeting that afternoon or realize early release day is the same day you’re traveling for work. It might seem a little daunting, but take an hour now before the chaos hits to write it all down.

Big wall calendar, google shared calendars, phone calendars, you name it – make sure it’s there. Even setting reminders for yourself to look at basketball registration in October can make sure you have piece of mind that you won’t miss out before the deadline ends to sign your child up. If you are more of a list person, try out a new organizational app, like Asana or Trello that can help to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks!

Give Yourself a Lunch Break

At the high elementary, middle and high school grades, kids can be responsible for packing their own lunches – this is no longer on your parent chore list. If they buy lunch, plan ahead for which days they want to buy and which they’ll pack themselves. You’ll ultimately be responsible for the food shopping itself at the grocery store so you can select the healthy foods so it’s not all packed with junk. Still need more ideas for what to pack? Check out this great blog from local mom, Laurie O’Rourke with ideas that she packs for her picky 12 year old for lunch!

Plan for Homework Help

What? You don’t remember high school calculus? Luckily, there’s an app for that. Whether you are looking for different homework apps, check out this blog post from Michelle Myers, a mom of teens herself with some great resources to use when you’re in a pickle. You can also plan ahead and get recommendations for tutors or extra help in the school year – if you get in touch now rather then mid-September, you’ll have more availability for the best times/days that work with your schedule.

Prep Dinners

Dinners in September can quickly become a nightmare when you are trying to get back into a routine. Between homework help, sports practices and all of the after-school activities, you may not have as much time as you did in the summer to get a meal on the table in a reasonable hour. There are a million different “tips and tricks” for prepping dinners and we could probably write an entire article (or article series on this topic), but do what’s right for you and your family. Some of the most popular options that have worked in the past are:

  • Freezer meals: You can find a ton of different recipes and ideas on Pinterest, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Even if you pack your freezer with 3-4 super easy crockpot meals or burritos to throw in the microwave, having this safety net will save your sanity.
  • Prep on the Weekend: Use your Sunday night to pre-cook some grilled chicken, package up salads ready to go, boil some eggs, broil up some veggies and potatoes so that you save yourself an hour on that Wednesday night when you get home at 7pm with no food in sight and starving kids.
  • Buy ahead: It may cost a few extra bucks, but it may be worth the sanity to buy that pre-made cooked chicken or lasagna, rather then cooking it yourself. Even if you pride yourself on making things from scratch, give yourself a break for 2 nights a week to have a few things ready to go.
  • Get the kids cooking: Give each child one night to make dinner. You might even pre-order through meal delivery services like Just Add Cooking or Blue Apron to get them involved and excited about dinners.

Don’t go Overboard

Besides the essentials – school list, backpack,  and the perfect first day of school outfit, your kid really doesn’t need to go overboard with a whole new wardrobe! Particularly when the seasonal weather doesn’t really start to change until October or November. THEN all of those fall clothes will actually be on sale.

Give Yourself Down Time

You think it’s crazy now, wait til mid-September. Both you and your family is going to need some downtime. Whether it’s a few minutes in the morning to enjoy your cup of coffee or blocking off a whole Friday night for a family pizza and movie night to veg out, it’s vital to ensure that you get a break from having any plans at all.

Ambar Eli Gingerelli, a  self-care coach, & stress relief specialist of Mama Bird Well Nest gets her down time in the morning and advises other parents to do the same. “Make sure to take some time for yourself each morning - whether that's doing a few minutes of stretching or sitting and sipping your coffee in peace before your kids wake up," she says. “Starting the day with a little 'me' time sets the tone for the day and helps you feel more peaceful and patient as you tackle the busy-ness of the morning rush!”

Have your own ideas to ease the stress of back to school time? Comment below and share your advice!

Written by Phase2Parenting

PLEASE NOTE: The writers of this article are not medical professionals. The information in this column is not intended and should not be construed as providing medical or psychological advice, but rather to offer readers information and provide a perspective to better understand the lives of themselves and their children. Articles on this website may be opinion based. The articles are not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or other licensed medical professional. If you do have health or safety concerns, please get in touch with a healthcare professional.