Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Getting Ready for Summer and Back to School...At the Same Time

Yay! My kids have been on summer vacation for a week and it's awesome. Don't be jealous, though, because school will begin again during the first days of August. But who cares about that right now. It. Is. Summer!

After a week of Field Day, Movie Day, picnics, parties and chaos I am not in the mood to work. I want to just throw down the backpacks and relax. And that would be disasterous. Work would pile up to my knees  eyeballs. If I get all the tedious stuff done then there's more time to relax and have fun. I've found some crazy easy ways to start the summer off right and get ready for back to school all at the same time. Without breaking a sweat or getting stressed out.

End of School:  As soon as we're home from the last day, I gather the backpacks and lunchboxes. They are emptied and we assess what needs to be tossed and what needs to be replaced. If it's tossable (yes, it's a word) then it goes bye bye right that waiting. In quick order, I assess the kids' clothes, school papers and school supplies. Clothes are organized into categories: next size up, to sell, to donate and rags. School papers are pared down to a few examples from the beginning, middle and end of the year. Here's a fun tip: Save a few less-than-perfect samples. Let your kids enjoy the misspelled journal entries that really speak of who they were when they were little. Assessing the school supplies only takes a few minutes. At this point, the smartest thing I do is make The List. I'll print out the school's required supply list and on the back, I'll jot down all those things I know I'll need such as extra ice packs, a spare lunch box, new backpacks, etc. As I buy things, I'll cross them off my list. I start my shopping now because I don't want to spend the last precious days of summer standing in a long line at the big box store with all the other tired mamas and their equally tired and exhausted kids. I'll use those sales to stock up for rainy days and school donations.

Summer Fun:  Aside from trips we may take, I make sure to have plans that fit my, relaxing, free or inexpensive. I check out the library for free movies, summer programs and Dollar Book Days. I look for festivals, fireworks, market fairs and anything that's just a little out of our ordinary routine. I also look for coupons or specials at all our favorite places during the summer. Many places let kids eat free on specific days. I also look for discounts at local attractions. True, we've already seen some of these things, but I promise you, a rainy day at the interactive museum will be fun, especially if you haven't been in a while. By the way, if we do take a trip you can be sure I'm looking for the best deals and savings I can find.

Back to School: I'm already looking for ways to get school clothes at the best possible prices. In one of my favorite stores I was given $20 in Store Dollars for spending a certain amount on a previous purchase. I used those few dollars to pick up three short sleeved shirts that will be perfect for returning to school in August. I've been looking at eBay, consignment stores and my favorite online places to get a jump start as well as looking for great items in my favorite stores. I'm not aiming for a full wardrobe; I just need to fill in the gaps of their summer wardrobe and get a few things that  make them feel like the start of the school year is a special time.

Kids, school and vacation cost money but they don't have to break the bank. Use some creativity and start early to keep ahead of the chaos. Enjoy your summer!

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