Back-to-School Sanity Savers


The teacher in me always kicks in before the start of a new school year. Though it should be exciting, I often hear moms describe frantic mornings, hectic evenings, and plain bad memories: homework wars, lost library books, last-minute assignments, missed buses, forgotten lunches, late starts, etc.

Back-to-school doesn’t have to be that way—nor should it be. There are simple and practical solutions to those common hot-button back-to-school parenting hassles. Not only will they make the upcoming school year more positive and less stressful for the whole family, but they’ll teach kids to be more responsible (which just happens to be an essential trait of a successful student).

Here are the six "mommy hassles" that happen around back-to-school time and simple solutions to save your sanity!

HASSLE #1: Late Starts & Sleepyheads

Sanity Savers:

  • Have children lay out clothes the night before
  • Teach your child to set his or her own alarm clock and stick to it.

Products to try:

Clocky ($50 at stores like Wal-Mart)
If you've ever had a child have trouble waking up with a regular alarm clock, it's time to meet Clocky: a mobile alarm clock that is guaranteed to get your kids on their feet. It gives you one chance to get up, but if you snooze, Clocky will jump off of your nightstand and wheel around your room looking for a place to hide.

GrooveToons Clock ($50 at
Sound the alarm for Cygnett's GrooveToons clock. It works with any generation iPod nano. The speakers pack a punch for the price and will help get a dawdler out of bed.

HASSLE #2: Missing & Lost School Supplies

Sanity Savers:

  • Use a closet organizer as a place for school supplies, teacher notes, school notices, or conference schedules.
  • Place a basket near the door where children can put their notices and school paperwork to be signed.
  • Have children pack backpacks before they go to bed and place them near the front door for the morning.

Product to try:

Closet Clothing Organizers ($25 at
Hang it near a back door so that each child puts his or her school supplies in one section.

HASSLE #3: Carpool Time Crunch

Sanity Savers:

  • Get on board with any other adult to split up the carpooling. Your kids don’t have to like each other. Just coordinate with any parent who lives anywhere near you to drop, off or pick up your kid. Use your Momtourage to organize carpooling.
  • Organize the inside of the car like an office to take advantage of lulls and waiting. You can take this time to review spelling words, do simple math problems, or read.

Products to try:

Cookie sheets ($5 at various retailers)
Instant homework desk or tray to eat on. Easily stackable and can be hidden under the car seat.

Magnetic letters ($25 from any craft or family store)
Magnetic letters are great to practice spelling words for the test and will stick to the cookie sheets.

HASSLE #4: Over-Scheduling the Kids (and You)

Sanity Savers:

  • Delegate tasks and get your kids involved.
  • Step back and stop rescuing the child from every little problem.

Product to try:

Erasable Door Reminders ($10 for a set of five from
Hang one of these on every doorknob and kids will never be able to say, "I forgot!" again. 

HASSLE #5: Keeping the Family Organized

Sanity Savers:

  • Keep the family organized and connected with a shared family calendar.
  • Bring the family together at a common time each day, even for 5 minutes to connect.

Product to try:

Day Runner Family Matters Monthly Wall Calendar/Message Center ($19.99 at
Give each child a different colored pen to mark his own weekly music lesson, soccer practice, field trip, sharing day, and spelling test on the calendar. Little kids can draw picture reminders of playdates. List your schedule as well, then put it in a central spot (such as in the kitchen or on the fridge) so everyone instantly knows who goes where.

HASSLE #6: No Time for Yourself

Sanity Savers:

  • Identify one thing that keeps you balanced and sane
  • Take some time to do something just for you. 
  • A happy mom makes happy kids!

Product to try:

Do Not Disturb Sign (Free! Make one at home.)
Hang the sign up on your door every once in a while, and you'll be happier! 

For more back-to-school tips, visit the iVillage Back-to-School Guide or

Get more tips and information from TODAY on iVillage

12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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