Six Back to School Tips


It is that time of the year again: back to school! How many of us are ready for the routine to begin again? The early mornings, the school lunches, the drops offs and pick ups? The morning madness and the afternoon chaos? I have mixed feelings about it all, but I know it must be done. To get ready for the craziness, I learned a few tricks to make things simpler, easier, and more enjoyable. 

back to school

1. Simplify Lunch

I believe in a hot lunch for my kids. However, I am reluctant to let them purchase it at school. My solution? Cook extra for dinner, and reheat the leftovers in the morning for the lunchbox. To make that possible, insulated, stainless steel food jars have become our back to school lunch box’s best friends. 

2. Set Out Clothes for the Week on Sunday

Each Sunday afternoon the kids and I go through their clothes and look for outfits to wear that week. When they settle on a choice, we organize the daily outfits in a bin, separated by different colored construction paper. Then, when it is time to dress up in the morning, all they have to do is reach into the bin for the outfit for the corresponding day. Voila! 

3. Stock Up on Essential Oils

We all know that school comes with its own share of mental and physical health challenges. For that I have a number of essential oil blends on hand. Something to boost my kids’ immune systems, one to support their focus and concentration, and a third to help ease their anxiety. I also have a special blend to help them get a more restful sleep. And on busy PE days, I apply a rub on their legs to soothe their growing pains. These essential oil products are a staple in our house, and I would never go without them. 


4. Have a Duplicate Pencil Box at Home

Last year was a disaster when it came to doing homework. The pencils were scattered all over the place, there wasn’t a sharpener in sight, and although I had bought a pack of excellent erasers, they seemed to have gone missing. Getting ready to sit down for homework took a lot of effort, and a lot of time. Since then I learned to keep a duplicate pencil box handy in the homework corner, complete with markers, coloring pencils, a glue stick and a pair of scissors. This year is going to be so much better! 

5. Write Love Notes

I find that it makes a difference in my daughter’s day to find a love note tucked into her lunchbox every week or so. I take time at the beginning of the year to cut out rectangles of colored construction paper, stash them in the kitchen drawer next to a permanent marker, and then on the days I think we both need it most, I take one out and scribble an “I love you,” “I am going to miss you,” or “I am proud of you,” note. I tuck it in her zipper lunch box, and imagine how she beams when she finds it. 

6. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It is going to be crazy. You are not going to be entirely ready. There will be tough mornings and sleepless nights. The best tip I could give you during those times is to breathe! There is nothing more you can do to thwart a tantrum. There is little you can do to make them go to sleep earlier. When things do not go as expected, take a deep breath and let them be. Tomorrow is another day, and the summer will be back before you know it. 

What helps your family get ready for back to school?

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Lebanese in origin, Ranya became a US citizen in 2007. Shortly after meeting Jeff through a job ad in Beirut in 2003, she moved to Portland to pursue a doctorate at PSU. From there, the two of them moved to the East Coast to begin their adventures. The last fourteen years have seen them in Portland, OR twice; in Arlington, VA twice, in Columbia, MD as well as Lebanon and Morocco. In her current life, Ranya is a teacher’s aide who loves to embark on special projects with her daughter. Their signature Mama-and-Me activity is hosting their friends for formal tea parties. She is trilingual, and is passing on the torch of language to her children who are fluent in English and Arabic. Ranya is passionate about hot yoga, and enjoys long walks. She absolutely hates driving, and reserves it for cases of dire need. She believes in the wonders of snuggles, and advocates their daily use. She lives a walking distance from her all-time favorite restaurant, Saburo, with Jeff, Jannah-Rae and Yousef. They share their one-bathroom house with her parents and Leo, the Arabic-speaking cat. Ranya writes thoughts, tots and essential oils on her blog Ranya, the Memory Keeper.