5 Tips for Working Moms to Survive the Back-to-School Hustle

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Yinz. Last week was a complete whirlwind for this working mom. I was away at a work training and came back to realize all the things need to be done to get into the back-to-school hustle. Ava and Isla will be starting next week and the Bigs go back after Labor Day. Time has flown this summer!

Luckily, after reading these tips for working moms to survive the back-to-school hustle, I feel like I am ahead of my mom game. For instance, we already ordered all the clothes online, they just need to make it to the dressers (or the laundry pile in our guest room). And I’m learning to stop saying sorry (at work, too) and know that I won’t be able to be everything to everyone (which yes does sometimes include my kids).

One thing I’m working on in the last few days of summer break is preparing for some moments now by writing my kids notes ahead of time. My hope is that I can just drop them in their backpacks when appropriate.

Check out the guest post below for a few more tips for more on how you can survive the back-to-school hustle then comment which is your favorite OR share your tips!

5 Tips for Working Moms to Survive the Back-to-School Hustle

back-to-school hustle

from Holly Caplan, author

From the moment my daughter got out of school in May to the end of July, was a complete blur. It was a blur of summer camp, work, travel, deadlines, proposals and pool parties.  The fact that she was going back to school in three weeks had not occurred to me. When it did, I panicked. Where did the time go? I frantically realized I had no idea what day school started and had to ask another mom. I got a brisk answer of  “August 20th,” which I like to call the “working mom fail” response. The guilt of not knowing when my child starts 2nd grade and feeling completely overwhelmed set in. Where do I begin? I’ve got to sign her up for fall activities, get a new backpack, lunchbox, some new clothes and also manage my job, meetings, travel and various work expectations. As working moms I think we feel there is no easy way to do all of this and keep a clear head and stay on task, but I have found five great tips for surviving back to school as a working mom:

1.    Order Online:
Spare yourself the hustle of shopping. No need to throw everyone in the car in 100-degree heat to head to your favorite retail super store, fend off the kiddos requests for toys and candy while back-to-school shopping. It is not worth it. Modern technology allows us the ability to order online for backpacks, clothing and supplies. Think of the time and energy you will save by sitting on your couch and checking some boxes and swiping “check out”. This also applies to grocery shopping too, which is becoming more and more common. Download the app for Shipt or Amazon Prime and let them do the grocery shopping for you. Do it a day or two before school starts. The kids can make their requests so they get to put some creativity into their lunchbox choices.  Other positives are that it isn’t expensive to shop online and it saves money because you avoid over-buying in a store.

(Bonus ‘lil Burghers tip? Check out Instacart to save $ and hours on local grocery delivery! Join here and get $10 off your first delivery.)

2.    Let the Laundry Lie:
Where does your laundry lie? Mine sits on a bed in the guest room.
Clean, yet unfolded. But clean. The point here is, let your laundry lie. It is okay to let some things slip during back -to -school time. You will have so much on your plate as it is, don’t let the mundane domestic stuff get to you. Not having every thing completed or accomplished around the house is okay. You will not get a ticket or a fine for letting some things in the household fall behind. Give yourself permission to know that it is okay if you don’t get everything done. It is completely normal, and you will eventually catch up.

Truth: This is what the ‘lil Burghers’ laundry looks like as of today!

3.    Get Your Routine Back:
In the summer our routines are typically off. As I mentioned, it can feel like a complete blur when so much is going on.  Activities, camp and work will run you, instead of you running them. No shock there. Bringing structure and school back into your life can be a struggle, but welcome it because it brings the return of normalcy.  Give yourself a cushion returning to the routine by practicing earlier bedtimes and waking times week before school starts. This will get us parents and kids back on schedule. Also, create a family calendar with upcoming school activities and your work schedule to make sure that all planets are aligned, and if not, this gives you time to create a family management strategy.

Guess that means no more “sleepovers” and flashlight story-reading at 10:00!

4.    Be Guilt Free:
I think the hardest thing about being a working mom during back -to -school is missing school events.  The hallmarks of the beginning of the school year like Fall Festival or Meet the Teacher are big events for the kids. Missing them can make you feel disconnected from their little lives and the guilt can take over. This is also difficult because you miss the chance to meet other parents and classmates at these events. You start to feel like a constant outsider because you are the mom who isn’t around enough. Don’t beat yourself up or hold yourself to an impossible standard. Know that you are doing everything that you can to accommodate both school and work and that you are still present in your kids lives, even when you can’t physically be with them.

5.    Connect with other working moms:
I have a lot of wonderful friends who are stay- at -home moms. They tend to keep me grounded and I rely on them a lot for my sanity.  Working mom friends can be super supportive too because they are most likely experiencing the same emotions and situations. For overall complaining, coping and time management ideas your working mom friends will happily listen and help you.  In addition, their schedules will most likely parallel yours, so for all of those 2:30 play dates you have missed, you can now do play dates on schedules that accommodate the work day. The silver lining here is that you get to solidify strong relationships with other women who will stand by you when you need support.

Managing back-to-school time will never be perfect or fool proof, but working outside of the home can bring on some added stress. It is a balancing act that can cause disruption as you get adjusted to the new school year and schedules. Know that you are not alone, and we are all muddling through it together.

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Holly Caplan is a mom, workplace issues expert, career coach and author. For more information, please visit her website and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.

Back to School 2016

No idea how this happened, but the Bigs have made it through eight days of school already. Before things become like Ari’s last day of first grade, we present the official back to school 2016 photos!

back to school 2016

Okay, who stole our babies and told them it was okay to grow up and into a Kindergartner and Second Grader? I mean seriously. Thank goodness they think this is funny.

Arianna will be taking on the last grade that I taught this year. Let that one sink in. She is in the grade that I was teaching when she was born.

second grade

And in ten years, back to school will be her senior year and this shirt will fit her. Sigh.

river hawks

And then there is Evan. He was so excited for full day Kindergarten + free breakfast and lunch this year (what a great score for our district!). Although he was nervous that his bff from Pre-K Counts wouldn’t be in his class (he’s not), he was still ready to give it a try.

BackToSchoolEvan

And the Armstrong River Hawks Class of 2029 is sure blessed to have him as part of their own, aren’t they?

Riverhawks2016E

We are so proud of you, Bigs!

BackToSchoolSigns

+

And an even bigger shout out to Greg who took this task on all by himself. I was away for work and got to join in via Skype, but he took care of all the details and photos. Thank you for making their days so special! xoxo

Perfect Pudding Pops (a #BacktoSchoolSimple Recipe)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BacktoSchoolSimple #CollectiveBias 

Oh, Back to School. How is it less than a week away? We’ve gone through Kindergarten Orientation, started earlier bedtimes, bought new clothes / shoes, and did our back to school food shop at our local Giant Eagle. Grabbing everything we needed for lunches, snacks, and a special first day of school treat (see the Perfect Pudding Pops, below!) was easy and convenient at Giant Eagle. (Bonus? I got to add some fun, healthy snacks to my lunches, too!) We set out to grab quick win items, and the Bigs had control over what went in the shopping cart. Everything on our list was checked off in one quick and easy stop.

Perfect Pudding Pops

Pudding Pops

I wanted to be sure the kids had a fun first day of school treat, so I asked my chef-in-the-making (Arianna) to look at our list and help me come up with a fun recipe. She wanted to fill Snack Packs with some of the fun Oreo and Goldfish treats we found while at Giant Eagle, and Evan chimed in that we needed some healthy additions, too. We ended up deciding to grab some strawberries to mix in, then put them in the freezer for a cool treat (as the first day of school is of course forecast to be a hot one).

To make our Perfect Pudding Pops, we needed to pull our ingredients together:

  • Snack Pack Pudding cups (we wanted chocolate and vanilla)
  • Goldfish crackers (assorted, we chose Chocolate Mint + Pretzel and s’mores)
  • Mini Oreo Cookies
  • Strawberries
  • Optional, Popsicle Sticks
  • Optional, popsicle molds

ingredients_pp

The Bigs were pretty excited about those Goldfish, by the way.

goldfish

 

Putting together the Perfect Pudding Pops was pretty easy, too. We simply:

  1. Open Snack Packs.
  2. (Optional) Spoon into the popsicle makers.
  3. Crumble add-ins.
  4. (Optional, if not using popsicle makers) Add in popsicle stick.
  5. Cover.
  6. Put in freezer for about 6 hours – perfect for during the school day. Pro tip – don’t let these sit for longer than a day – they do get a bit crunchy! 
  7. Push out of the cup or mold and enjoy!

filledpopsicle

Yum!

ariannapuddingpop

The Lunch Station

Beyond having a super fun first day of school treat, we wanted to build a station that would help with packing lunches once or twice a week, so the Bigs looked for favorites like Schwebels Bread, JIF Peanut Butter, Smuckers Fruit Spread, Frito Lay snacks, Goldfish Crackers, and Entemanns Little Bites. Of course, we had to be practical and pick up the bags to tuck the goodies in, too!

Back to School Simple

I think we did pretty good, don’t you? What would you have added?

lunch station

The After School Snack Station

To make life easy on Greg, we decided to pick out After School Snacks that stuck with our family theme – a healthy choice and a happy choice. The kids will get to pick one of each from this station in the pantry. No questions asked, except asking when can we go back to Giant Eagle to fill it up! *wink* (Check out gianteagle.com to find your local store.)

after school snack

Personally, I was over the moon with these portion packs because I’ll be using them to get back on track with right sized snacks for me, too! I showed Arianna how to weigh a serving of Goldfish, then we made some portion packs filled with her favorite treat from our shop.

portionsnack

Up Next? The first day of school!

I *think* that we are ready, at least when it comes to food. Thank goodness we have Giant Eagle as our local headquarters for back to school shopping! Check out how others are using Giant Eagle as their one-stop-shop for back to school.

What’s still on YOUR Back to School To Do List? Share below!

 

Back to School Tip: Label Daddy

We still have a month until the big kids are back in school, but it’s never too early to start thinking about getting ready. A few months ago, I was sent Label Daddy labels to review / use for back to school prep…and I let the summer get away from me.

When the big kids go back to school, their clothes, coats (ugh), and backpacks will have a personalized label. Say goodbye to using markers on your kids’ clothes thanks to Label Daddy!

IMG_20150809_133730To get our labels, I went over to labeldaddy.com and picked out the extra small labels (so these will work in our twins’ extra small clothes, too!). I simply put our last name and an icon that reminded me of “us” (a starfish) and it will be enough for teachers (and Daddy) to confirm the missing things are ours. (Because our kids are totally all about losing stuff, aren’t yours?!?!) I sprung for the laminated protection because it’s best for things like coats and sports equipment (that might be exposed to sunscreen). My tip for success at this is to press the labels into your kids’ clothing tags as soon as they get out of the washing machine. This way you don’t have to worry about the “Helpful Hint” to not wash them for 24 hours. Wait – we are putting labels on clothes that can be washed?!?!! Uh, yup! IMG_20150809_133614

Arianna and Evan were pretty excited when they helped me put the labels on…but they asked why I didn’t get ones with their first names, too. Maybe the next round. (The pack we got has 75 labels in it – while I can’t imagine running out any time soon, we probably will.)

How about you? Are you ready to start prepping your ‘lil ones for Back to School?

You can Save 20% on Label Daddy labels for all your Back to School needs!  This is THE BEST deal available on Label Daddy, the number one solution for labeling your kid’s belongings!  Remember to label all clothing, sports equipment, electronics, and other personal belongings your kids bring to school, camp, sports leagues, day care, vacation, and other places.  Label Daddy labels keep them from getting lost or mixed up with others.

 

These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels — they’re washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant!  Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive.  You design your own labels!  Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney and Marvel characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more.  Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for camp!  These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

You can save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order when you use code USFAMILY20 at checkout:  http://www.usfamily20.labeldaddy.com

What would you label? Are you ready for back to school?

label daddy

Amazon $100 Back to School Giveaway

Internet Payment Exchange, Inc., a leading provider of IVR Payments, is proud to sponsor this giveaway.
 

Back-to-school season is here and who couldn’t use a little extra spending money? This $100 Amazon.com gift card giveaway is perfect for picking up last minute supplies or even a little something for yourself. (No worries, I won’t tell your kids/spouse.)

 

Entering is easy – just use the simple Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends September 1, 2013.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway