Achievable Back to School Tips and Tricks

Back to school tips and tricks

Back to School Tips and Tricks

If your summer is anything like ours, (late nights, slow mornings, unscheduled days), then the thought of school starting again is probably exciting, but might stress you out a bit. Going from no schedule to a structured day can be tough at the beginning.

Because I find the adjustment tough myself, I have come up with a Back to School Action Plan that I hope you will find useful as well! The plan covers three areas: shopping, meals and organization. By tackling these three things I know our mornings are going to run smoother and we’re going to save quite a bit of money!

Let’s get started with the back to school tips and tricks, shall we?

Back to School Shopping Tips:

Since the first year my oldest started going to school, we have implemented a tradition of going on a date together to get her school items. We both really look forward to spending some quality time together and I think the one on one dates we do is an investment into our future relationship. That being said, we don’t start our date day without a plan.

It can be so easy to walk into a store and buy whatever is on sale or super cute. But lets avoid that this year because quite frankly, it will be overwhelming to know how much money you actually spent on clothing that wasn’t actually needed and now has to be laundered. Ugh.

Back to school Tips and tricks plan

So, this is what we do here:

Inventory Clothes: This may sound overwhelming, but it literally took us less than 10 minutes. I simply pulled out every single item of clothing (including socks and underwear!) and asked her to say Yes or No to each item. If she said No, that item either got donated or put into the bin for her younger sister one day. With everything that was a Yes, I took a mental inventory of what she needed. I discovered that all she needs is a pair of indoor shoes and a sweater. That’s it! I also purchase one (on sale) outfit for her first day of school and a “special” accessory.

School Supplies: This is the first year that we have to purchase school supplies since previously everything was included in the school fees for kindergarten and grade 1. Cost is more of a concern for me so, my thoughts for this is to shop the dollar store, home and maybe even Staples when they have a good sale going.

If time is more of a concern for you, try doing all your school supply shopping online at Walmart, Staples or even Amazon. Pick it up in store when your order is ready or have it shipped to your door!

Back to School Meal Planning Tips:

Meals can be a big stress inducer for me so that why this year I have a plan for school day breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I even made some printables for you to use!

Breakfast: My kids never know what they want to eat each morning so this year I will decide for them by creating a menu. Every day of the week will be the same thing all year long. For example, Mondays I will serve muffins and fruit. Tuesdays will be pancakes or waffles. Wednesdays will be toast and fruit. And so on.

Lunch: This year, my oldest and I are going to sit down to brainstorm all the items that she would like eating in her school lunch. I’m going to divide it up into categories:

  • Main dishes
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Snacks/Treats

Dinner: If I don’t have a dinner plan, dinner will either be take out or grilled cheese and tomato soup! 😛 And neither of those are healthy or good for the budget on a regular basis.

Back to School Organization

Morning Routines: Rushed, hectic mornings with short tempers are not my favourite. Admittedly, they happen way more often then I would like. Both of my kids (ages 3 and 7) still need help with their morning routines but my oldest is definitely more capable at being self directed. However, to help her along, I’ve made up a list of steps I need her to follow.

  1. Get Up
  2. Get Dressed
  3. Eat Breakfast
  4. Pack lunch (I like to do this while she is eating, but she can put it in her backpack)
  5. Brush teeth & hair
  6. Backpack & Shoes on
  7. Out the door

Set out outfits for the week: One thing I found super helpful last year was putting aside 7 outfits for each day of the week. This made getting dressed every morning so easy. My oldest tends to shut down when she has to decide so this has helped her tons.

Labels: With all the money that is spent on school items, it’s not a good feeling when something goes missing! Make it easier to find important and favourite items with labels. We love the labels from Mabel’s Labels so that where I ordered ours from.

I’d love to know your back to school tips and tricks. Leave them below in the comments!

10 Cheap Road Trip Hacks You Need to Try

10 Cheap Road Trip Hacks You Need to Try

Will you be heading on the road with your family this summer? Road trips can be a great way to spend time with your loved ones or to get a brief respite from this crazy world. Whatever your reason for the trip, planning is key.

One of the most challenging things for a family road trip is just getting to your destination. Anyone who has taken a trip with kids knows there are constant stops for snacks, bathroom breaks and meltdowns over a toy or blanket that may have fallen beyond their reach. If you prepare for the situations you can control, your trip to your destination will go smoothly (and hopefully with as few stops as possible).

Before you hit the road, be sure to take a look at these 10 cheap road trip hacks. The dollar store or even Amazon are great places to look for inexpensive items that can be used to make your trip run as smooth as possible. Here are some hacks made using simple items that will ensure your next road trip adventure is a success.

Shower Caddies

These mesh plastic caddies are great for snacking in the vehicle. Use the compartments to put a juice box or water bottle, bags of snacks, napkins and utensils. Each person in the car should have their own. No more making stops to get everyone their snacks. They can help themselves as you drive.

Mesh Pop Up Hamper

These small hampers fold up into a disc so they don’t take up much room in the car. Pop one up to be a catch all for larger toys or put a plastic bag in a small one and place in the back seat with the kids so they can throw their trash in it (and not on the floor).

Elastic Sheet Straps

Elastic sheet straps have little tabs that affix to fabric on each end. Tired of your kid losing their blanket and you have to pull the car over to find it? Do you want them to have a sweatshirt or jacket readily available? Attach one end to their clothes or fabric of their car seat and attach the other end to the blanket or jacket.Cheap road trip hacks that you rally need to try to ensure a successful trip with kids!

Plastic Mattress Protector

Plastic mattress protectors are a must have in your road trip arsenal. You can use them as a picnic table cover in a pinch if you stop to eat at a rest area or park. You can also use them to catch sand and dirt in the trunk or cargo area on gear, clothes or shoes. If your lodging on the way to your trip isn’t up to your usual standards, you can use these mattress protectors to keep you and the sheets separated.

Mesh Bags

Mesh bags are great for road trips. Most dollar stores sell them in a pack of two or three and they have so many uses. You can tie one to the back of a headrest and put your child’s blanket and stuffed animals for easy reach. You can also use mesh bags to air dry wet items or collect dirty laundry.  

Accordion Files

Sometimes your car can become a dumping ground on a road trip and before you know it you find yourself looking for everything from sunscreen to bug spray. Accordion files can keep everything in one place. Place the item in a gallon size plastic bag and label the top. This also works for games, coloring sheets, puzzles and other activities for the kids. Empty the pieces into a gallon zipped bag (you can get them cheap at the dollar store), label and place in each compartment.

Stacking Pill Organizer

When you take a road trip, space can be limited. One way you can save space is by using the stackable pill bottles. Put your eye cream, toothpaste and lotions in them to avoid having to bring larger containers. You can put over the counter medications in them. Or if you like to bring your favorite spices along, you can put them in there too. The possibilities are endless.

Fishing Lure Box/ Small Hardware Storage Box

These small boxes can be used to keep things together in the car during travel, whether it is small parts for crafts, spare change or earbuds to your devices.

Shower Trays with Suction Cups

Are you tired of picking up Legos or small toys and want to keep them together and in arm’s reach of your kids? Suction holders can be the perfect solution. Just suction the trays to your kids’ window and they have a place to store their favorite things.

Shower Caps

Shower caps are also a great staple to have on hand. If you make stops and your kids get their shoes dirty, you can place them in the shower caps. Or if you don’t want to take their shoes off, place the caps around their shoes. If you stop to have a picnic, you can also use these to snap around a plate to keep the bugs away from your food.

Clip-on LED Light

For night driving, you may get distracted by turning the overhead lamps on for the kids to read. The clip-on LED reading light can come in handy. Clip onto seat belts so kids can have a reading light at their disposal. Clip onto your kids if you have to get out of your car at night to stretch your legs or go into a dark rest stop. These are portable and give just enough light for them to read, but not enough that it will distract you from driving.

Do you have any road trip hacks to share? Leave them in the comments below!

No Spend Declutter Challenge: Day 18

Can you believe we have reached the last day in the No Spend Declutter Challenge? It’s so hard to believe we’ve been working away for nearly a month! I still have areas of my house that need some fine tuning, but overall, I’m quite happy! I think I brought in 5 boxes/bags to the second hand store.

One thing I wish I would have been better at, is using stuff we already have in our pantry and freezer. I feel like I still spent the same amount on groceries as I do every month.

Day 18 Declutter Task:

We’re going to close out the month with something that I like to do about once a month or so. A digital declutter. This is when I go though my email accounts and delete emails I no longer need. Unsubscribe from newsletters that don’t interest me any longer. Unfollow social media accounts and delete photos off my phone and computer that are no longer needed.

It’s sort of a mindless task, but feels so good to have only the stuff you need and the stuff you love in the end!

How often do you do a digital declutter?

Day 18 No Spend Task:

Remember when a couple of weeks ago, our task was to create “wants” list? Well, today, we’re going to revisit that list.

When you revisit your list, cross off the things you realize you no longer want. With the items that are still on the list, I want to encourage you to try buying used, borrowing from friends or family, or asking in a local Buy Nothing Facebook group.

I know you will will feel just as satisfied with those options when you receive the items you want!

I’d love to know, after nearly an entire month of not spending unnecessarily, how many things do you no longer want or need?

Thank you so much for joining me this month! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I will be posting each task in the Simply Frugal No Spend Declutter Challenge Facebook Group. This is where most of the discussion will be happening.

I will also be posting random progress reports throughout the challenge over at Instagram! Follow me on Instagram @simplyfrugal and use the hashtag #nospenddeclutter to get updates and see what others are up to during the challenge!

If you do not use social media, I would love to read your comments on each task, right here, below each challenge post on SimplyFrugal.ca!

No Spend Declutter Challenge: Day 17

Day 17 Declutter Task:

Today, we’re going to tackle our desk areas. Now this year, things might look different than normal. You may be using a table as a make shift desk for school or work at home. So I guess you can tidy up the spot you call a work area!

In our home, I have a desk, but the girls are the ones who use it right now for making crafts and colouring. (We are fortunate to have in-class school!) My husband also has a desk that tends to get cluttered up with toys because it’s in our basement where most of the toys are. So today, I’ll tidy them up and make sure all the random items are in their proper place.

Day 17 No Spend Task:

Well, once again, we’re going to intentionally not spend money on unnecessary things! But we are almost finished! Have you noticed a big change in your mindset? Are you less tempted to purchase random items now?

I will be posting each task in the Simply Frugal No Spend Declutter Challenge Facebook Group. This is where most of the discussion will be happening.

I will also be posting random progress reports throughout the challenge over at Instagram! Follow me on Instagram @simplyfrugal and use the hashtag #nospenddeclutter to get updates and see what others are up to during the challenge!

If you do not use social media, I would love to read your comments on each task, right here, below each challenge post on SimplyFrugal.ca!

No Spend Declutter Challenge: Day 16

Day 16 Declutter Task:

Today, we’re going to declutter and organize our craft/hobby supplies. While we don’t have a dedicated craft room, I still find it very helpful to occasionally go through our craft supplies! I seem to have bins all over the house. I’ll be sorting through my daughters’ craft supplies too. Actually, mainly their supplies. I’m still trying to figure out what my hobby is. 😛

When we moved into our house almost four years ago (!!), we purchased a few of these ALEX drawer units from IKEA. My husband created a desk out of them by placing a piece of pine board overtop. It has been the most wonderful set up for the girls!

Here are some links to great craft organization tips that I thought you might enjoy:

Day 16 No Spend Task:

Once again today, we’re going to keep it simple, and not spend money on anything unnecessary. What did you do yesterday for your self care? I ended up with an hour to myself so I forced myself to not do any chores and read a book!

I will be posting each task in the Simply Frugal No Spend Declutter Challenge Facebook Group. This is where most of the discussion will be happening.

I will also be posting random progress reports throughout the challenge over at Instagram! Follow me on Instagram @simplyfrugal and use the hashtag #nospenddeclutter to get updates and see what others are up to during the challenge!

If you do not use social media, I would love to read your comments on each task, right here, below each challenge post on SimplyFrugal.ca!

No Spend Declutter Challenge: Day 15

Day 15 Declutter Task:

Today we’re going to start a task that I dread. Filing paper. I’m not sure why I don’t like it so much, because when I do take the time to to it, it really doesn’t take that long. Once it’s done I’m always left feeling satisfied too! I just don’t know…

I think it was about a year ago that I overhauled our filing system and I’m really liking it! If you are in need of some filing system inspiration, here are some great links:

Related: Tips to Tame the Paper Clutter

Do you have a system that works well for you?  Care to share your tips in the comments?

Day 15 No Spend Task:

I definitely think it’s time for some intentional self-care, don’t you think? If you can’t find time today, make some time this week! Here are some ideas for self care that you may enjoy:

What do you do for self care?

I will be posting each task in the Simply Frugal No Spend Declutter Challenge Facebook Group. This is where most of the discussion will be happening.

I will also be posting random progress reports throughout the challenge over at Instagram! Follow me on Instagram @simplyfrugal and use the hashtag #nospenddeclutter to get updates and see what others are up to during the challenge!

If you do not use social media, I would love to read your comments on each task, right here, below each challenge post on SimplyFrugal.ca!