Preloading

7 Things Every Mom Should Do At the Start of the School Year

The most organized mom bloggers we know let us in on their fall must-dos, from stocking supplies to getting into lunch lady mode.

Avoid a Paper Explosion

Even though Amanda Blake Soule, author of the crafty and creative blog Soule Mama, homeschools her five children throughout the year, September still signifies a beginning. So at the end of every August, she gathers all the artwork, stories and poems her children have created over the past year. They look it all over and stash a few pieces away for safekeeping. It can be tough to decide what to keep, but Soule usually holds onto things she knows her children were particularly proud of or worked especially hard on, and items she thinks her kids will love seeing in 20 years. She writes the child's name, age and year in pencil on the back, and saves them in this extra-large folder, one for each child.

Sign a Lunch Contract

Jenny Rosenstrach, who writes about cooking for her family on her blog, Dinner: A Love Story, was determined not to let packing the dreaded school lunch threaten to pull apart her marriage, so she drew up a contract with her husband outlining lunch-packing responsibilities for the year, with lines like, "You hereby agree to be the sole and exclusive lunch and snack packer every other school day (excepting holidays, early dismissals, and Pizza Fridays)." Rosenstrach says she did this because "If you don't immediately set up the rules, you will be sentenced to a year of resentful brown-bagging and it will crush your soul." Further annotations from her husband—adding "mentally" to "medically unable to perform the task," for instance—remind us that a sense of humor really is key to getting the dirty work done.

Remind Them What a Times Table Is

Nonchalant Mom's Schott likes to help her five- and nine-year-olds ease their ice pop-addled summer brains back into September by reviewing math and reading. She relies on iPad apps: For her younger child, TeachMe: Kindergarten, Montessori Counting Board and Starfall ABCs; for her older one, Stack the States and Stack the Countries. Schott's blog has a list of more than 30 educational apps.

Have a Plan to Deal With "So, How Was Your Day?"

If conversation with your child goes something along the lines of you asking how her day was, her responding "good," you asking what she did, and her saying, "nothing," try this strategy from North Carolina artist and mother Jean Van't Hul, whose blog, The Artful Parent, covers kids, art and creativity. When her first-grader gets home, Van't Hul has a snack and an item from her list of 10 Simple Art Activities ready. Sometimes it's only when her daughter is immersed in Q-tip pointillism or building a structure out of toothpicks and stale marshmallows that she'll reveal what happened that day. You can print out Van't Hul's cheat sheet and tape it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet for easy reference.
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