Back to School and the Work at Home Mom

It's almost time. Many moms will be sending their kids back to school, and for those who don't homeschool, at least, it means the kids will be out of their hair for a while. For the work-at-home mom, however, a little bit of extra work and planning can make the process of sending the children back to school a bit easier for everyone. Here are the tips we like best from moms with years of experience.

1. Shop Smart.  Every retailer is offering crazy prices on back-to-school basics; pencils, pens, notebooks, socks, and even shoes are being drastically marked down in celebration of the season. If your state offers a tax-free holiday, this is the perfect opportunity to save 6 to 9% on your total shopping bill.  Check out this list to see if your state tax-free holiday is yet to come.

2. Meal Plan.  I am guilty of hardly ever planning out my meals. I tend to just throw together whatever I have in the fridge into a somewhat composed dining experience. If the thrill of not knowing what you're going to eat at 5 PM isn't something you want to experience daily, I highly suggest a very basic meal plan. There are lots of tools to help get you started, although I tend to rely on Pinterest boards and blogs for some of my best ideas.  Faves include:
You may also like to go with an online recipe box tool.  Those that have been successful for us include allrecipes.comand  If you enjoy using up brand name products in your recipes, or enjoy convenience food coupons, you may like signing up for free memberships with ReadySetEat or the Kraft Recipes newsletter.

Even if you just plan out one day at a time, you can save money and energy by being a bit prepared via the meal plan option.

3.  Ramp up Slowly.  Since we homeschool, we have the option of breaking the kids into a fall routine little by little, day by day. Since you won't have the same kind of control when sending your children to public or private school, there are some things you can do to get everyone used to the busyness that the new school year will bring. I suggest starting with bedtimes, and slowly adjusting them earlier each night, in 15 min. increments. Your kid's 10 PM bedtime, for example, would take eight days to be turned into an 8 PM bedtime. The same can be done for waking up earlier.

If your child will be involved in athletics, start having them exercise a bit more or do drills in anticipation of their first days of practice. If your child has gotten out of the practice of handwriting, use free printable worksheets online to get their hands conditioned so they won't cramp up during their first week back.  (I love SchoolExpress for free worksheets!)

4.  Review the Rules. It's always good to brush up on the do's and don'ts of returning to school. Topics that can be covered, depending on your child's age, include how to cross the street, what to do in case of an emergency, how to practice good study habits, as well as rules for curfew, driving etc.

5.  Adjust your expectations.  If you planned on finishing your nonfiction book proposal during the first week of school, you might need to push back the timeline. Likewise, family vacations, important client meetings, or conferences are not wise to be scheduled during those first weeks back-to-school. Everyone will be stressed out by the changes; it's best not to add to the chaos with the lofty business goals or time away from home.

All moms experience a bit of anxiety and stress as we work to get the kids back to school. For the work at home mom, it can be just a bit too much.  What tips do you have for managing it all during this busiest time of year?

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