There’s no easy button for back to school. But there are a few shortcuts you can take to make the process easier on you and the kids!

1. Get into the back-to-school routine

The school schedule can be hard on kids used to later bedtimes and lazy mornings over the summer break. Start getting your kids into their bedtime and morning routine about a week before school starts.

2. Stay on schedule

Plan out a typical weekday schedule with your kids that includes homework, dinner, free time, after school activities and the bedtime routine. Post it somewhere the kids can see it and use it as a reminder to keep the schedule flowing in the evening.

3. Organize outfits

Before you head out for back-to-school shopping, take an inventory of their clothes and see how many outfits will fit and work together. You’ll save money if you can put off shopping for at least a few weeks. And if you struggle to get your kids dressed in the morning, lay out their clothes the night before.

4. Shop ‘til you drop prices

We covered a number of ways you can save money on back-to-school shopping on our blog. And if you’re feeling like the financial crunch is just too much this time of year, maybe we can help.

5. The freezer is your friend

Freeze what you can to make for quick breakfasts and lunches. A batch of pancakes works well to toast individually and eat on the run with peanut butter or jam. Likewise, you can make a bunch of simple sandwiches, such as jam or turkey, and keep them in the freezer. Throw them in their bags in the morning and they’ll thaw by lunchtime.

6. Ice pack hacks

There are a few tricks for keeping your kids’ lunches cold. Frozen water bottles or juice boxes work well. You could also try using kitchen sponges. Just soak in water, place in a sealable bag and throw in the freezer overnight to be placed in their lunchbox in the morning.

7. Set the stage

Clear space or designate stations for where your kids will keep their backpacks, do their homework and organize their books and papers.

8. Avoid the paper trail

As a first rule of thumb, make a point of signing and returning any forms the day you receive them. This will help keep papers at a minimum. For important papers that have a longer shelf life, set up a simple system, such as file folders with the kid’s names or grades; a magnet clip on the fridge; or a basket or bin by the door.

9. Designated back-to-school snack spot

Organize and prepare items that are easy for your kids to pack in their lunches in the morning. This could include precut fruits and vegetables in sandwich bags in the fridge; simple sandwiches in the freezer; and easy-to-grab snacks such as granola bars in the pantry.

10. Keep it hot

While your kids are grabbing the snacks and extras, you’ll have time to focus on prepping a hot lunch in a thermos. Preheat the thermos by filling it with boiling water. Let it sit while you you’re getting the kids ready and heating up the food. You can also try heating the food hotter than usual. The combination will help your child’s lunch stay nice and hot.

11. Talk to your kids

This is especially important if you have kids starting kindergarten or a new school; talk to them about the big transition. Listen to their fears and share stories of your own first day of school experiences that may help them feel more comfortable.

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Read more about saving hundreds of dollars by doing back to school lunches the right way and budgeting for extracurricular activities.