Before and After School Child Care: 6 Practical Solutions

The new school year is around the corner which means it’s time to nail down your before and after school child care. From morning drop-offs to shuttling kids to after school activities, the back to school hustle can leave you juggling a lot of different schedules. Not sure what kind of after school child care is right for you? Have no fear! We have 6 before and after school babysitter and nanny solutions that will help your family get an A+ this school year.

1. The Full-Time Nanny

Full-Time Nanny
Before and After school babysitter

Work full-time? Need a helping hand before and after school? Have a little one in school and one still at home? A full-time nanny may be just what you need to cover all your bases. Nanny-finding sites like UrbanSitter conveniently allow you to search or post a job for this type of “split shift” schedule. 

Pro-tip: Check our blog post for suggested questions to ask when interviewing potential nannies.

2. The Carpool-Driving Sitter

carpool driving sitters

Maybe your mornings start early and you need help getting the kids ready and dropped off on time to school. Or, maybe you can’t leave the office early enough to pick them up. Problem solved! Book a carpool driving sitter.

Pro-tip: Use UrbanSitter’s search filter to find sitters ‘willing to drive kids’ in your car or theirs.

3. The Homework Tutor

sitter tutor
before and after school babysitter

Let’s be real, kids have A LOT of homework these days and sometimes our kids need a little extra help. Find and book a sitter who’s ready to hit the books after school.

Pro-tip: Sites like UrbanSitter make it easy to search for sitters by the grade levels and subjects they teach or tutor.

4. The After-School Sitter

after-school sitter

Soccer practice, music lessons, dance class, or even just a trip to the park can be hard to juggle when you have more than one kid, errands to run, or when your work schedule keeps you late. Have no fear, an after-school sitter can help you feel like you are in more than one place at the same time.

Pro-tip: If you aren’t finding any sitters to cover every day of the week, consider splitting your job into two jobs with a sitter for Monday-Wednesday-Fridays and another for Tuesday-Thursdays.

5. The Last-Minute Sitter

urbansitter app
last minute sitter
before and after school babysitter
after school child care

When the kids have an unexpected day off from school or your usual nanny calls in sick, you’ll need access to a last-minute sitter for backup child care. 

Pro-tip: Download UrbanSitter’s child care-finding app for free for access to last-minute child care. 

6. After School Programs

after school program

Some schools offer after school programs to give parents a few extra hours of child care beyond the school day. If your school doesn’t offer an after school program, many local YMCAs offer affordable school age after school child care.

Found the right before and after school child care solution for you? Now get started on your caregiver search by creating a free account on UrbanSitter.

15 Hilarious First Day of School Memes

The first day of school is an exciting (and stressful) time! Enjoy these 15 relatable memes about back to school that will make you laugh.

1. Can the first day of school come any sooner?

first day of school meme
Image via Mamás Latinas

2. Back to school is the best (or the worst) time of year!

parenting meme
Image via memes.relate.x / Instagram

3. The first day of middle school can be a culture shock!

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Image via Katie Didn't / Twitter

4. Time flies when you’re having fun.

school meme
Image via MomTransparenting / Twitter

5. Going back to school is an adjustment for the kids too!

back to school meme
Image via No-Guilt Life

6. Is it a Thursday or a Friday?

back to school meme
Image via Readers Digest

7. Where did those colored pencils go again?

back to school meme
Image via AparnaRC / Twitter

8. Only three months until Thanksgiving!

first day of school meme
Image via Readers Digest

9. That first day of school excitement wears off quickly…

first day of school meme
Image via Distractify

10. Back to school takes a lot out of the little ones!

school meme
Image via biotchandmeme / Instagram

11. Are your kids Type 1 or Type 2?

back to school meme
Image via Distractify

12. School supply shopping is the best part of back to school!

back to school meme
Image via Readers Digest

13. Finally some peace and quiet!

back to school meme
Image via Someecards

14. Target moms get it.

first day of school meme
Image via Mila / Twitter

15. Have they invented a way to be in two places at once yet?

parenting meme
Image via Sara Says Stop / Twitter

What better way to destress from the first day of school than with some school memes? Back to school can be hectic for parents and a big adjustment for kids as well, but it’s also a chance to start some new family traditions. There are new school supplies to buy and new schedules to figure out. We hope these first day of school memes made you smile!

Back to School: The Nanny Conundrum

how much to pay a house sitter

whitney_tang_nanny_magContributed by guest author Whitney Tang, Executive Editor of Nanny Magazine

It’s September, which means hordes of children have headed off to school, many for the first time. As you gear up for that first day of meeting the teachers and kissing your munchkin goodbye, a momentary thought might pass through your mind: What in the world will your nanny do for these three or so odd hours every day? Not paying her is out of the question. You need your nanny to be on call for all those sick days, snow days, and, heaven forbid, any emergencies. But should you really be paying her to sit around your house all morning with nothing to do? Here are some things you might want to consider to maximize your nanny’s time on the clock.

Keep Her Busy

Depending on where school is located, your nanny might not have the flexibility to go all the way back home during school hours. This is a great opportunity to ask her to pick up your child’s much-needed rain boots or craft supplies. Keep in mind that just because your child isn’t in the house doesn’t mean it’s your nanny’s downtime. School hours are the perfect time for your nanny to get caught up on your kids’ laundry and other child-related chores around the house, such as meal prep. Do you already have this covered? Let your nanny invest some time in her own professional development. Register her for an online course to enrich her childcare skills or hook her up with some great nanny-related reading to help her sharpen her skills and get new ideas to better take care of your children. The ways to make the time while your child is in class count toward your nanny’s paycheck are endless.

But Don’t Keep Her Too Busy

Keep in mind that your nanny’s top priority is your child. Even with some “free” time, you can rest assured that she is most likely planning the next great museum outing or tomorrow’s very messy (but educational!) science experiment. Good nannies rarely stop brainstorming new activities, planning new adventures, or educating themselves on caring for your child. Let your nanny use this open time to rest, think, and plot. Even the best minds need a few minutes away from the constant commotion to come up with truly great ideas.

Encourage Conversations

Do you really need eggs for tonight’s dinner but don’t have time to pick them up after work? Don’t be afraid to ask your nanny for some help. But also don’t be upset if she has something else planned. She might be busy picking up craft supplies for the afternoon’s art project or returning the nearly late library book just in time. In order to prevent yourself from becoming annoyed and your nanny from feeling pressured, be sure to open up various communication outlets. As long as a conversation is always going, each party will have better expectations for the school days ahead.

It’s Simple

Your nanny has more scheduling flexibility to take care of errands and chores when her charges are not in her direct care. Make the most of the time but don’t underestimate her. Just because your kids aren’t with her doesn’t mean she isn’t busy with their care. How do you keep your nanny busy when your kids are away at school?

If you’re looking for an after school nanny, review these tips for finding the right one for your family!

Whitney Tang, Executive Editor of Nanny Magazine is a freelance writer, a graphic design artist, and most importantly, a nanny! But the best part of her day involves a lot less typing and a lot more mess making, with glitter and flour being the usual suspects!

Find trusted nannies near you at

Back To School Transitions Tips for Parents During COVID-19

anxious child

Contributed by our friends at Brightline

When you became a parent, you probably didn’t envision 18 months hunkered down at home with your whole family (or that spending some extra time hiding out in the bathroom would be keeping you sane). And we’re guessing you didn’t picture that you’d feel so weird about finally sending your kid or teen back to the classroom after that year and a half. Excited to be going back to the new “normal?” Yes. Confused about what that looks like? Also, yes. Worried about how your kid might handle it? Triple yes.

Raising kids can have its challenging days (don’t you love trying to convince a tired kid to…go to sleep?), but parenting your way through a global pandemic? It’s been like a chaos-filled Groundhog Day, but in real life. Nobody should have to navigate this uncharted territory alone. Whether you’re wondering if constant tantrums are “normal,” or you want to figure out if your kid might have anxiety or ADHD, it might be time to enlist a bit more support.

Not sure exactly where to start? Here are a few key back to school transitions tips for parents during this weird and challenging time.

5 Tips To Navigate Back to School Transitions

1. Talk to your child’s teacher

Wondering about your kids’ behavior, but you’re not sure what steps to take? Your child’s teacher — who observes them in close proximity every day and probably has years of experience with kids and behavior — can be a great resource. If the teacher notices your kid’s been struggling to focus or is having a hard time making friends, they might recommend resources at the school, or habits you can try at home as a family. And if your kid is struggling at school, but not at home, you can offer up your expert suggestions to help the teacher.

The more you work together, the more your kid will thrive at home and in the classroom!

2. Establish dependable routines

Consistency is the key to stability and enlisting more child care support, like a reliable morning or after school nanny—to pack up backpacks and lunches, then help with pickups and homework—could make a world of difference for a child struggling with the newfound busyness of their life. Not sure what kind of school year child care solutions are out there? Check out Before and After School Child Care: 6 Practical Solutions.

3. Consult your family doctor

Another great support to add to your team is your kid or teen’s doctor. Along with ruling out medical concerns that could be contributing to your kid’s behavior, pediatricians are trained broadly in kids’ health, so they can help you pinpoint potential issues and whether extra support (or evaluation) could be useful for you. And since your family doctor knows other professionals and your child, they can provide personal suggestions about which behavioral or mental health experts your kid would gel with (and send through a referral, if needed).

4. Try behavioral health coaching

If you’ve tried all the things to help your kid with tantrums or your teen with self-confidence, a behavioral health coach who specializes in parenting and family issues can work with you to identify growth areas and, more importantly, goals and ways to meet them.

While therapists tend to focus on the “why” behind the “what,” coaches hone in on the present and future — helping you reframe struggles and find and implement practical opportunities to get where you want to be. Coaching is grounded in evidence-based methods for kids and teens, then applied to work for everyday challenges and situations that might not meet a clinical level of need. So if your elementary school kid is struggling with worries or your high schooler just can’t seem to stay on top of homework, a coach can help you figure out the right tools — and how to use them to help your family grow.

“Coaching is a way to reframe your goals and push you or your child to the next level,” says Charlene Montgomery, MS, a behavioral health coach at Brightline. “Together, we’ll identify where you want to be, and give you the tools to help you get there.”

Coaching is a great way to set goals, so you and your family can thrive. Consider a behavioral health coach an investment in your family’s well-being — the cheerleader you need to power through this tough season.

Want to learn more about coaching? Check out 5 coaching programs that will help you tackle back-to-school.

5. Consider therapy

If things just aren’t getting better, or you think your child may need a greater level of care, it might be time to think about looping in a therapist — someone who is specially trained in identifying and treating behavioral health issues.

When you’re worried about how your child is doing — maybe they’re really stressed or feeling down lately, or maybe you think they might have ADHD, or tough behavior is really wearing you down — it can be seriously tough on everyone in the family. And asking for help can feel like a big (and scary) step. The first thing to know? “All of these things are totally normal, especially during a time of transition and uncertainty,” says Angel Herrera, LMFT, a Brightline behavioral therapist. “We all experience stress in one way or another, and it’s OK to need help sometimes.”

There are tons of therapists out there, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. In your search aim for a licensed behavioral health clinician who can diagnose and treat behavioral health conditions in kids and teens. You may also want to partner with a therapist who has experience in your child’s specific struggle, whether that’s anxiety, depression, or ADHD.

For kids, it can be especially helpful to work with a therapist who takes a positive approach. Strengths-based therapists will help your kid or teen to grow coping skills out of what they’re already amazing at, which can infuse the whole process with confidence and motivation.

Coaching or Therapy?

Need help figuring out what type of support is best for your family? Reach out to Brightline for a free, 15-minute consultation or download the Brightline Connect app for videos, articles, tips and resources, and more to help you through it all. 

Taking the Next Step

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by next steps, take a deep breath and remind yourself you’re absolutely not alone — and there are plenty more resources to build into your support system.

It can be difficult to take the first step and ask for help, but an incredibly important one. “I feel like the more parents are involved in their child’s treatment, the better results we see,” says Herrera. Remember: you’re not alone, and help is available. You got this!

Additional Online Resources for Children’s Mental Health

Start the School Year Right With an Eye Exam

By Dr. Gabriel Taub

The American Optometric Association (AOA) estimates that up to 80 percent of learning occurs through a child’s eyes. That’s why, as we find ourselves at the beginning of another school year, your child’s eye health should be as important as your annual visit to the pediatrician. An eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help prevent potential vision issues that could impede your child’s progress both in school and during extracurricular activities.

With the amount of time children spend looking at smart boards, tablets, and computers, it is important to make sure that they entering the classroom without any vision issues that may prevent them from doing their best. Schedule regular eye exams just prior to the beginning of each school year—and if you haven’t made an appointment yet, don’t fret—it’s never too late to look after your kid’s eyes!

You should also schedule an eye exam at any time of year if you notice that your child is experiencing any of the following:

  • Squinting while reading or watching television
  • Losing his place when reading
  • Avoiding reading and other close-up activities altogether
  • Headaches
  • Blinking
  • Rubbing eyes constantly
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness and tearing of the eyes
  •  Tilting his head to one side when viewing something
  • Holding reading materials very close to his eyes

Some children might be stressed or frightened about a pending eye exam. Below are a few things you can tell them to expect, to alleviate some of their anxiety.

With a little knowledge beforehand about what is involved, eye exams don’t have to be stressful or scary for either the child or the parent. They should know that none of these tests are painful or difficult!

  • History:  This will cover any complaints and pre-existing conditions
  • Age-appropriate visual acuity testing: Using an eye chart, the doctor asks the child to read letters or name pictures
  • Cover testing: This test detects misalignment of the eyes. While the child focuses on a target, the examiner covers each eye one at a time to look for a “shift.”
  • Motilities:  The child is told to follow a target over a circular path.  Tracking problems and head movements are noted.
  • Stereopsis:  Testing the ability to see a 3-D image with polarized lenses.  A fun test that children enjoy that also reveals important information about their vision.
  • Color Vision Testing:  This is especially important for boys, since 8-10% of males have color vision deficiencies.  Less than 1% of females have such deficiencies.
  • Retinoscopy:  While the child looks at a far target (picture chart) the optometrist uses a retinoscope to measure the amount of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism (an oval shaped cornea).

Finally, sports injuries resulted in 20 percent of emergency room visits for kids aged 5 to 9 and 41% of visits for children aged 10 to 14, according to a recent study.

Thankfully, protective eyewear can prevent 90 percent of eye injuries. Children’s sports glasses, which are traditionally made from impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, feature a goggle shape in plastic or polycarbonate with padding to absorb impact. Be sure to ask your optometrist about options that are just right for your little sports star!

Dr. Gabriel Taub has practiced at Cohen’s Fashion Optical for 18 years. Throughout the month of September, the store is offering free eye exams to kids ages 5-16 at participating locations. 

Photograph by Ernst Vikne via Creative Commons

Crafty Kids: Nifty Back-To-School Projects– with Tape!

Duct tape crafts have been hot for the past couple of years because a) they’re easy to put together and b) pretty much every child loves tape! You can help boost the excitement for back-to-school in your kids and tweens with these two fun (and useful) crafts from our friends at Duck Brand Tape.

Chalk Circle Calendar

You will need:

  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Duck brand chalkboard tap
  • Duck tape

1. Make a 1-1/2-inch template for your day-of-the-week circles out of cardstock, then trace the template on the back of the chalkboard tape, 42 times, at cut each circle out.

2. Trace letters for the days of the week on the back of the Duck tape, then cut out and stick one of each to 7 of the circles.

3. Now, piece by piece, stick your calendar to your wall, inside your closet, wherever it’s handy!

Desk Organizer

You will need:

  • 12 empty Duck tape rolls
  • Duck tape
  • Scissors

1. Tape 2 empty Duck tape rolls together to get a double-long tube. Fold over any excess tape. Then, cover the inside of the roll with Duck tape, too. Repeat 5 times.

2. Using thin strips of Duck tape, attach the tubes to make a pyramid shape. Now you’re ready to load your organizer up with all your pens and pencils for the school year!

Acing Curriculum Night this School Year

In homes across the country, parents are contacting sitters to cover them so that they can attend back to school open houses, also called Curriculum Night or Meet the Teacher, at their child’s school. The evening, usually held a few weeks after school starts, is a chance for parents to meet their child’s teachers and find out about the class schedule, homework expectations and plans for the year. It’s also an important opportunity to meet other parents. Here are helpful tips for making the most of the evening and getting the school year off on the right foot.


Introduce yourself to the teacher. It’s obvious, yes, but worth the reminder. Even if you’ve already met your child’s teacher, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to say hello and introduce yourself as the mother or father of a student she’s just getting to know. The greeting shows you support her and your child. Every other parent in the room will be waiting to say hello, too, so keep it brief.

Save your questions for later. Unless there’s a lot of time allotted to Q&A, you may want to wait and ask your questions, at least the big ones, when the teacher has more time to respond. She likely has a big agenda for the night and a lot to include in a short period of time. Send her an email when you get home, instead.

Don’t over commit. Hoping to take advantage of a captive audience, teachers, administrators, the PTA and the Class Parents will likely be looking for your help. As much as you want to support your child’s education, refrain from committing to more than your schedule can handle. If you overcommit, the year will quickly become a burdensome blur, and you’ll miss out on enjoying the ride.

Volunteer for jobs you really want to do. You’ll get a lot more out of your volunteer time and have a lot more to give if you choose opportunities that appeal to you and your skills. You don’t need to plan the class party, chaperone the field trip or head up the fundraiser, unless you want to. Instead, you may like to help by tutoring a struggling student, designing a flyer or assembling workbooks in your own living room.

Leave your child a note. In the flurry of meeting the teacher, catching up with other parents and watching the PowerPoint about mandatory testing, it’s easy to forget that your child sees the night as a chance to show off his classroom and his work. Leave a note in his desk, letting him know how much you like the room, how nice the teacher is and how proud you are of his “All About Me” collage.

Consider being the class photographer. If you’re the parent with a camera permanently strung around her neck or stashed in the diaper bag, chances are you’ll be taking a lot of pictures to document your child’s school year. Offer to share your photos with the teacher and the class. The other parents will love it (you’re taking some pressure off of them!) and the teacher will appreciate having photos to use for presentations, fliers, slide shows and projects.

Remember that it’s not social hour. It’s easy to get caught up reconnecting with parents you haven’t seen all summer or since your kids were in Kindergarten together. It’s important to reconnect and initiate new friendships, but don’t spend so much time chatting that you miss out on the presentation or tour. Do go the extra mile to track down the parents of the new friend your child’s incessantly talked about since the first day, and trade numbers.

Making a good impression and learning as much as you can about your child’s upcoming year is a wonderful way to start the school year off on the right foot. It’s well worth your time and the cost of the sitter. You’ll be glad you attended.

Take Note! Tips for the New School Year

Back-to-school time is nearly here, which means parents everywhere are bracing for the frenzied shopping, new schedules, and busy days that are soon to come. With so much to do and buy for the kids, you likely haven’t given much thought on how you can prepare yourself for a fresh start, too. With a little planning, upgrading, and a bit of strategic shopping (and downloading) you can set yourself up for a less stressful, more organized, and stylish new school year. Before the school bell rings again, check out these 6 helpful high- and low-tech ways to prepare yourself for a fantastic start.

1. Get your correspondence in order
Undoubtedly, there are times when you can’t depend on a text or email to communicate with your child’s teacher or coach – and these times are typically of the last-minute variety. Rather than wasting precious morning minutes scrambling to find a scrap of paper, be prepared with stationery made for the job. We love these jazzy, customized envelopes that’s especially handy if you have more than one child, since you can include multiple kids’ names in your customization, along with your contact info so it’s as easy as checking a box and including a quick note, check or signed form. ($14 via Hedoe Paper)

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2. Let someone else decide “what’s for dinner”
We’d all like to get a healthy, tasty, home-cooked meal on the table, but who has time to search for all the preparation? An online meal planning service can make it a whole lot more doable. Of all the meal planning apps out there, Cook Smarts is one of the most popular. It’s praised for its quality of recipes, interesting foods and tutorials. For $6 per month, you get weekly dinner menus customized to your family’s food preferences (gluten-free, Paleo, vegetarian). It also teaches you how to cook them and creates a grocery list so there’s no more nightly trips to the store to get what you need. A meal planning service will save you time, money at the grocery store and will help you to get healthier food on the table for your family.


3. Prepare to be mobile
Chances are a new lunchbox, backpack and maybe a duffel for after-school activities are on the back-to-school list for your child – and for good reason. We all need a way to have what we need away from home, when we need it. Make sure you are prepared for your day, too, by choosing the right carry-all for your needs. You’re more likely to pack yourself a healthy lunch when you have someplace to keep it fresh, more likely to hit the gym after work if your easy-to-carry gym bag is locked and loaded, and you just might feel a little more confident in your abilities to juggle it all when you have just the right travel or work bag. This lunchbox from Poppin ($20) is grown-up worthy and the Toss Audrey Bag would make a great go-to bag – perfect as a carry-on, weekender, or business bag ($120).

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4. Tee up childcare
It’s almost guaranteed that you will need backup childcare during the school year. Whether your child is home sick, the nanny calls in sick or your regular sitter who covers you for date night is unavailable – you’ll need backup. Take the time to spell out your childcare plan. Know whom you will call for backup during the year (nearby family, a helpful neighbor) and have a network of reliable sitters at your disposal. If the UrbanSitter app isn’t already a favorite on your phone, you are missing out on a big lifesaver. The free app gives you the peace of mind of knowing you will always have a trusty sitter at your disposal, and can easily book her anytime, anyplace.



5. Boost your motivation with a new pair of shoes
Because shouldn’t a new pair of shoes be on every back to school shopping list? Whatever your workout, shake it up with a new pair of sneaks. You’ll kick start your motivation and even improve your workout when you put on some snazzy new shoes instead of those sweaty old things you’ve been wearing for way too long. We love these Nike Free TR Connect 2′ Training Shoe ($72.90) via Nordstrom.

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6. Upgrade your calendar
Whether you’ve been depending on your trusty, old-school day planner, consider upgrading for better efficiency. Busy parents juggling activities and commitments for the entire family would find Mynd helpful. It’s essentially an intelligent mobile calendar that acts like your own virtual assistant. Not only does it keep you organized, it also keeps you on time and prepared by reminding you of appointments – and even provides drive times and weather forecasts for specific meetings. There’s no time wasted transitioning to a new calendar and getting up to speed. Download the app and you’ll instantly be asked for access to your current calendar so all events are immediately available in Mynd. Available free from iTunes.

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With a few downloads and a little shopping, you’ll be ready to sail your family into a well organized, promising new year.

5 Special Back-to-School Traditions to Start this Year

IMG_0374Even if you are sad to see the summer go, there’s no denying the excitement a new school year brings. You can get your kids motivated for a fresh start and build lasting memories by starting back-to-school traditions you can repeat each year. These fun, memorable traditions will have everyone raring to go!

To help you create traditions that are just right for your family, we’ve pinned loads of great back-to-school ideas, tips and products to our Back-to-School Pinterest Board and included links below. We hope they are helpful!

Start a New Back-to-School Tradition:

1. Super Star Shopping Date

Remember the thrill of picking out new school clothes when you were a kid? Maybe you got a new backpack, lunchbox or some fresh kicks.  No matter how much or how little was on the shopping list or what’s on your list for your own kids, everyone loves  starting the year with something new.

  • Take advantage of pre-fall sales and hit the stores with your child. Make him or her the center of attention by arranging to send siblings on a playdate or hiring a sitter to take over while the two of you are on a date.
  • Stock up on school supplies, gear and clothes for the new year.
  • Keep budgets in check by first doing a closet and drawer assessment with your child, deciding together what’s needed. Organized Home posts helpful strategies for Back-to-School Shopping.
  • Make shopping a fun event by including a stop for lunch and using the time with your child to talk about highlights of the summer, and plans and goals for the new year.

2. Meet a New Teacher and Host a New Friend

For a child, walking into a new classroom can be a scary thing. Seeing a familiar face in the room always makes it a bit a easier. Take advantage of opportunities to meet the new teacher and visit the classroom to build familiarity and calm first-day anxieties. It’s also helpful, if you have a class roster or know of a child who will be in the same class, to schedule a playdate with a classmate who happens to be an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile or make an introduction to a new friend.

Turn it into a fun tradition by making it an annual project to find a new or long-lost friend to meet up with after orientation day. You can make it extra special by meeting at a local park and bringing a treat to share or at a local ice cream shop for Back-to-School cones.

3. Tweak your Routine and Refresh your Homework Station or Quiet Time Spot

morning routine
Photo: IHeart Organizing

Being organized feels fantastic and  gives everyone in the family a sense of control and preparedness. Have a tradition of holding a family meeting to discuss with older kids what could be improved from last year and to share with everyone what the routine will be once school starts.

This is the time to roll out new calendars, introduce new sitters and make sure kids know what to expect. There are lots of free printables that will help you organize expectations, including chore charts, weekly planners, lunchbox planners you can create with your child, and even simple This is Our Morning Routine and This is Our After-School Routine printable charts that will help kids stay focused and limit the number of times you’ll be barking orders, such as “Put your shoes on!”

If you have school-age kids, now is the time to refresh supplies for homework and organize them in a location that’s easy for kids to access. For younger kids, you can perk up the quiet time area, maybe adding a few new books to the collection or making a space more inviting by seeing that it has a comfy spot to rest and plenty of light for reading.

4. Share a Story and a Craft

Get kids excited about school and address concerns and worries by sharing a book about starting school. Picture books can help to reassure kids about starting school or going to a new school, and they also serve as catalysts for better communication at home. Check this handy list of top children’s books about starting school, including books that talk about first day jitters, how to make new friends and simply what to expect so the day is not so scary.

If you have a crafty crew, get them excited for the big day by spending time together on a Back-to-School project.  Red Ted Art has a popular round-up of back to school craft ideas that are sure to get school spirit soaring.

5. Make the First Day Extra Special

first day of school sign
Photo: Just Imagine

Create a tradition of great fanfare on the first day of school! This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours planning menus and creating DIY decorations. It just means putting a little extra TLC into the day to turn it exciting and memorable. Here are some simple ideas you can do each year:

  • Get up earlier to set a pretty breakfast table with fresh flowers and a favorite breakfast that you don’t typically serve on a week-day morning, such as these French Toast Roll-ups that are so easy, they could easily become a week-day staple.
  • Have each child pose for a First Day photo you can save in special photo album. Take it up a notch by having your child hold a small sign or chalkboard  marked with the date and a personal note, such as his favorite activity or what he wants to be when he grows up.
  • Pack a special lunchbox treat with a note reminding the recipient that you are thinking of him all day long.
  • Pick up a special after-school snack, such as these Chocolate Coconut Graham Crackers that take good’ole graham crackers to a new level,  or a all the fixings for First Day sundaes. Take time out of your day to either sit with your child or call them to hear the highlights of the big day.

One more tradition to start (just for mom and dad): The occasional night out! Find a trusted babysitter at