Long summer days, lazy vacations and relaxed evenings spent by the firepit have a way of making us think our families will never be on a schedule again. That is, until it’s mid-August and we’re at Target frantically sorting through cartoon-themed school supplies. Here’s the good news: there’s still time to skip the back-to-school stress by tackling a few items before the countdown to the academic year begins. Use the tips below to get started.

Sync your calendar.

For parents, school can present endless scheduling obstacles. Early dismissals, teacher in-service days, open houses, PTA meetings… all of these events vie for space on your already full plate. Planning in advance is vital to surviving the school year. Check your school’s website for the annual calendar, then armed with your family’s planner or shared Google calendar, update the next nine months with key dates. If possible, determine how work schedules, business travel or family vacations will be impacted. Need to ask for days off work? The sooner the better, especially around holidays.

Find your team of sitters.

Can’t take off work every time school is closed? Need a sitter to pick the kids up after school? Want back up when your child comes down with a cold? Hiring school-year sitters can be a major source of stress if you start searching late in the game. The sooner you post a job and begin the interview process, the more options you’ll have. Don’t just look for one great sitter—there are plenty of reasons to build a team. And don’t forget: Summer is the perfect time to try new sitters and build your bench for the school year.

Clean out the closets.

For some parents and kids, shopping for back-to-school clothes is a time-honored tradition. For others… not so much. Either way, with kids growing up and growing out of clothes, it has to be done. Don’t start your shopping spree before you’ve sorted through your child’s current wardrobe. July is a great time to go through your child’s closets, and toss, pass along to friends, donate or even sell clothing, outerwear and shoes that no longer fit. Once you’ve cleaned out the closets, start thinking about what your child needs for the next three months. You don’t have to buy everything six weeks in advance, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can keep an eye out for sales.

After you’ve tackled clothing, move on to school accessories: Is your child’s backpack beat up? Is their water bottle or lunch box missing in action? Locate these items, determine if they are still useable, and store them for the school year.

Restart the routine.

Tossing aside morning routines and regular bedtimes is inevitable during the summer months, but it can make for a tired, moody kid when school rolls around. The further in advance you start reinstating your child’s typical routine, the smoother the transition will be. Getting enough sleep is also critical to your child’s behavior and performance in school, and it will make your mornings go more smoothly. If you’re struggling to get kids back on board with bedtime, try pushing lights out 10 minutes earlier every few nights until your child is going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Schedule important appointments.

Haircuts, dentist appointments and doctor visits typically top the back-to-school to-do list, but can wind-up being the last thing we think to do. Make those phone calls now and get your appointments on the calendar. And remember: Back-to-school well visits are the time to discuss any concerns you have as a parent, such as behavioral problems you’ve observed, questions about readiness for sports, and physical, emotional or social development. Pediatricians can provide advice and guidance as well as referrals.

Relax…it’s summer.

There’s still time to enjoy summer, and by adding a few back-to-school to-do items to your list in July, your family can relax knowing that all that you need to do in August is buy school supplies.


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