Back to School Guide 2014: What You Need to Get Ready

Back to School Guide

It is with mixed emotions that I prepare for the start of a new school year. Part of me is ready, after a ten day-long vacation with lots of family time. I’m also feeling as though we made some great progress on getting out and doing fun stuff, thanks to the Austin Summer Fun Checklist and a bucket list we put together way back in June. Plus, the constant juggling of work and play is wearing on me. Then again, I’m not looking forward to the early wakeups, the afterschool practices and my ever-growing mental list of things I would like to accomplish before school starts.

In the hopes this helps more than just me get ready (mentally and otherwise), here is a roundup of great articles and resources to help make back to school less daunting:

Getting Organized

I like spending some time at the start of the school year putting all the important dates on my school calendar. Granted, I’ll probably get more at Back to School night, but but it’s nice to feel as though I have a little bit of a head start — also, that way we can see if we have time for any short getaways in the fall. Here are calendars for the Central Texas school districts:

With only one kid, my calendar needs are pretty simple, but I’ve heard lots of great things about a free mobile app and website called Cozi, which can help organize carpools or the other logistics of school and afterschool activities.

Also, if this is your first time to have a kid in school, or if you are having trouble shaking out the cobwebs, here’s a checklist of things to do before that first bell rings.

If you want to try to be more prepared this year with afterschool snacks, school supplies and laundry, here’s a list of 25 home organization tips (it is from Pinterest, so be ready for a few over-the-top — at least for me — ideas).

Where to find deals on clothes, shoes and backpacks

The first place I went to start my back to school research was Saving With Shellie, which is an amazing resource year-round. As luck would have it, you can find all of the back to school deals here. Just yesterday, I saved over $30 on clothes for my son, using the coupon codes and links from her site. Thanks, Shellie!

If you plan to head out to see what you can find in stores, or want to do some shopping online, here are a few deals I found:

Tax-free weekend
AdvertisementThis weekend, August 8-10th, is a Sales Tax Holiday in Texas, to allow families to stock up on back-to-school items. According to the Comptroller’s website, “As in previous years, the law exempts most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend.” Check the website for the fine print before you head out, and be ready for crowds.

Lunch Inspiration

I pack a lunch every day, and I remember when my son was in kinder and I was very motivated to try out new things and make somewhat elaborate meals (nothing like the crazy people who do those bento boxes, mind you.) Now, well…notsomuch.

Back then, I really liked looking for ideas on weelicious, since the recipes were pretty simple and healthy. Another site with healthy ideas is 100 Days of Real Food. Food Network has a list of 15 kid-approved lunches to get you started. Bon Apetit also has a slideshow with 25 “quick and easy” lunch ideas. The blog 3 Boys and a Dog has a list of over 50 lunch tips and recipes here. If you are into Martha Stewart, here’s her take on school lunches. Of course, there is tons of school lunch-related pins on Pinterest. Very Culinary has 30 ideas here. Fabulously Frugal has 40 ideas for breakfast here. You can even find printables with jokes to put in their lunchbox here.

If the idea of looking on Pinterest is daunting, the Whole Foods at Arbor Trails is offering a Build a Better Bento Box on Saturday, August 23rd from 11am until noon. Register here.

School supplies

As I mentioned earlier, Saving With Shellie is a great resource for back to school deals. She rounds up the deals on her site to get your supplies, from Office Depot/OfficeMax and Target to Walmart.

GivingCity Austin has compiled a great list of Back to School Drives taking place here in Austin. You can find information on both donating and receiving supplies in this Giving City post.

Preparing their minds and hearts

Starting school can be stressful. If your littles are feeling anxious, or just to get them in the right mindset, here is a list of books which address school time.

If you feel your child is feeling extra anxious about the start of school, the Austin Child Guidance Center has some tips on easing school-related stress.

Local therapist Lora Ferguson offers some advice on easing the morning routine.

My son took at camp at the Austin Artery this summer and really enjoyed it, and I see they are offering a Artist Prayer Flag Back to School camp. Kids can spend time the last week before school starts making “a unique set of colors for their flags and design a set of flags that embodies their own personal hopes, dreams and goals for the upcoming school year.”

The Austin Mindfulness Center is hosting a Back to School Mindfulness Workshop on Saturday, August 16th to help kids manage the stress and anxiety that can accompany this time of year.

End of Summer Fun/First Day of School Rituals

I’m already thinking about the last week of summer. We have a few appointments, like going to the dentist, but I want to also squeeze in some fun. I’m thinking about maybe taking my kid to Hawaiian Falls the last week of summer with friends, or maybe even a day trip to Waco or San Marcos. Of course, we have the Back to School Music Bash on our calendar. My son is a super duper LEGO fan, so I’m also considering a quick trip to Dallas the first weekend of school to attend the KidsFest. I also noticed the Austin Roller Rink is hosting a back-to-school lock-in and I bet a few other places are offering something similar. The Austin school district has organized a Back to School Bash to showcase all the resources and services available to families in the area. GirlStart is taking RSVPs for its Back to School STEM Saturday for August 23rd.

Speaking of rituals, is there anything special you do the first day? In kinder, we went for ice cream after the first day, but we haven’t done anything else in particular each first day, except attempt to take a photo. Here’s a list of first day rituals in case you want to add something new this year. I really like the idea of a first day of school interview each year, although we have never done it before. There are even printables which take you from preschool, all the way through high school. If only I were that organized! Oh, and those signs kids can hold for those first day photos? Thankfully, the world doesn’t have to see my horrible handwriting, and I can print one out right here.

Whew. Well, at least having a list makes the whole idea of going back to school more manageable…right?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 8-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]




About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

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