Back To School Tips & Tricks I’ve Learned To Keep Us Organized

Back To School Tips & Tricks I’ve Learned

If you know me personally then you would know the following things about me: everything in my house has a label, my meals are planned by the month, I’m extremely structured, and I live by my to-do list daily. I will even go as far as to write an extra to-do down that I accomplish just so that I can check it off. Anyone else like me?

Anyway, a few weeks ago – I posted about how everything is ready for back to school at my house. That post ended up having quite a big reach on Facebook and Instagram, so I figured maybe I should share my tips. Maybe just maybe my tips will help you make things easier this school-year for you! So today i’m opening up my brain and pouring all my info out to you! This post is going to be long, so I apologize for that in advance. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me anytime. I’m always happy to help.

Please note: These ways of living work best for me and my family. All of them won’t work exactly the same for you. But please take these tips & tricks and implement them in your home the way that’s best for you and your family! Also, I don’t want you to read this article and think that I have a perfectly run household. Because that is NOT true! I just have these items set in place to keep us running more efficiently. 

Meals

  • Breakfast: As far as breakfast goes, I believe it depends on your family’s preference. We are breakfast lovers in this house. I usually cook up a batch of bacon or sausage on Sunday for the week. Then every morning I make either egg sandwiches or scrambled eggs and warm up the meat I made on Sunday. I will also sometimes make a casserole or muffins on Sunday and we will eat off that during the week. If you’d really like to prepare, you can cook breakfast and store it in your freezer. Click here for some ideas on breakfast freezer meals. 
  • Lunch & Snacks: This year for lunches and snacks I’m doing things a little simpler. I got two bins. One bin went in the fridge and other one went in the pantry. I’ve encouraged my kids (ages 5 & 7) to pack their own lunch every night. They are to pull 2 items from fridge bin and 2 from the pantry bin. For the first month of school, I help them to pack a healthy and complete lunch. The bins are filled with items like: fruit cups, sliced fruit, apple sauce, hummus, guacamole, cheese slices, pepperoni, deli meat, yogurt, crackers, pretzel, peanut butter, chips, trail mix, etc. (See picture below)

  • Dinner: I like to plan a month at a time so my month has balanced meals. I always grocery shop on Fridays using Kroger ClickList. And I make a monthly trip to Costco to load up on staple, snack, and bulk items. Disclaimer – As a family we eat mostly paleo style so I plan dinners that way. I use a combo of cookbooks (Danielle Walker) and Pinterest to create our monthly meal plan. I love to meal plan & cook so this works for me. If you don’t like to plan, check out either Eat at Home (provides weekly meal plans and a color-coded grocery list) or Dream Dinners (local company that works as your prep kitchen and fills your freezer with meals that just need to be cooked).
{This is my August meal plan}

House Preparation

  • All the Incoming “Stuff”: In the area between my kitchen and living room, we have a dresser with three baskets labeled as Inbox, Supplies, & Greg (see photo below). All incoming “stuff” goes in the inbox and weekly I sort through what is trash, what needs to be filed, what are bills to pay, etc. In this same inbox bin, I have a folder for receipts to go in. Each week I go through and enter them in our budgeting tool. We use You Need a Budget (YNAB) because it syncs with your phone and/or web. The second bin labeled “supplies” is for post-its, morning devotion books, pencils, markers, etc. This bin also contains a homework folder where I place activities for homework. My kids will typically do their homework at the kitchen table while I prep dinner. The third bin is for my husband. In it, he  puts whatever he needs to. He needed a place so I gave him one!

  • Communication: Above the dresser mentioned above, I have a chalkboard that I created (See image below). It’s simply a window that I painted the glass with chalkboard paint. I update this board every Saturday evening. It keeps everyone in the “know” as to what’s going on during the week and what we are having for dinner each night. On Sunday, we do a family meeting during dinner. During that meeting we all share compliments about one another and then I tell everyone what we have coming up the upcoming week.
  • Laundry: Laundry has always been my nemesis. I have tried doing it daily and also doing it once a week. After some trial and error, I’ve found for me it’s works best to do laundry every other day. On a laundry day, I try to see it all the way through. That means that I wash, dry, fold, and put away. I loathe ironing. Like seriously loathe! I only iron every other week on Saturdays. And I took the summer off from ironing. It was glorious!

  • House Cleaning: Because I work full time now I have a house cleaner that comes every other week. 😊 The only cleaning that gets done is on Sunday evenings, we all pick up our areas to make sure everything is tidy. I also always clean up the kitchen and living area most evenings so we start the day with a clean living space. Before the house cleaner, I used Clean Mama’s method of cleaning 15-20 minutes a day so your house stays clean and a once a month deep cleaning.

Family Schedule

  • Abide by Boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries with your family’s time. If not, you will be a frantic family all over the place. I know because I’ve been there and done that! For us, we only allow one extracurricular activity per kid. For the fall season, Finn chose West Forsyth lacrosse and Selah chose ballet. We will discuss spring as we get closer. As for us (the parents), we’re in small group through Browns Bridge Church and like to go to the gym. So between all that we stay pretty busy.
  • Family/Rest Time: “The days are long, but the years are short.” I know there will be a season where we won’t be able to do this. But for now, we try to eat dinner together every night. Some of the best conversations we’ve had have been around the kitchen table. We also incorporated a weekly game night into our schedule a few years ago. The kids love it! During that time, we play board games, cards, hide and seek, etc. We just rotate between each of us to be the one that makes the decision on what we do. Recently, we found a locally made box (PLAtime) that provides the activities and supplies. You can read more about that here. This year we decided to implement a rest day each week. It usually falls on Sundays, but the day fluctuates each week. During the rest day, we just chill at home. By chill I mean we relax – that means no work is done on these days.
  • No Technology: Last but not least, we put all devices away around 5pm and it stays that way for the remainder of the evening. This is a hard one – especially for me. But I’m really committed this year! Family conversations are much richer when technology isn’t in the mix. We keep a copy of Here’s a Question around dinner time if we need help stirring up conversation.

And that’s all my back to school tips in a nutshell. Now I need to have a glass of wine after all that typing!  Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. I hope this post was helpful to you! Cheers to being more organized this year, Rachael


Rachael Walkup is a wife, mother of two, and owner of CummingLocal.com – a website dedicated to promoting events & small businesses in Forsyth County. Coffee, good food, and wine are the way to her heart. She’s a lover of comfy clothes and deep conversation.

Back to School in Forsyth County 2017-2018

Back to School Round-UP

Back to School in Forsyth County 2017-2018

Whether you’re in the “boo-hoo” club or the “woo-hoo” club, there’s no denying it … it’s almost back to school time in Forsyth County!  The school bell will ring in just a matter of DAYS now, so it’s time to get ready for all things back to school.

Here’s our run-down:

forsyth county schools

  • Shop for School Supplies: We have some tips for you to make shopping easier as well as back to school drives at local organizations. Click here to read more.

back to school traditions

  • Get Ready for Some Back to School Traditions – make back to school fun with these ideas to capture the moments!

Back to school tips for kindergarten moms

  • Read Up – if you’re sending off a kindergartner this year (like me), be sure to check out this article.  It’s an oldie but a goodie!

  • Enroll Today at the NEW Kiddie Academy of Cumming: Enroll before 9/30/17 and receive 3 weeks of free tuition! Connect online with them: Facebook | Website

  • Schedule a Back to School Adjustment – Be sure to keep the kiddos backs aligned and ready for a great school year!  I’ll be doing that with our friend and website sponsor Dr. Marchman at Essential Wellness.  Give her a call and let her know Cumming Local sent you!

  • Register for Fall Sports – It may be 90+ degrees outside but it’s also the time to plan ahead and get the kids signed up for Fall Sports!  Our website sponsor, i9 Sports has a full line up to take advantage of!  Click here to get started. If you want to get a peek into what it is like doing sports with i9 Sports, read this article from one of our contributing writers.

Fall Dance Programs at Footprints

  • Register for Fall Dance programs – Footprints Dance Alliance has some great offerings for the fall. You can even attend a freebie class to see how you like the studio before classes start. For more information on their programs, click here.

Dream Dinners Cumming GA

  • Fill your Freezer with Meals – Let’s face it fall nights are super busy. So why not make dinner easier by filling your freezer with Dream Dinner meals! Click here to read about the Dream Dinner experience.

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  • Enjoy just a little more fun – On of our favorite deal sites is stocked full of great savings right now!  So squeeze in one more night of fun before school starts and go ahead and plan for some fall fun as well!  Click here for the latest deals.

Auto Insurance Premium

  • Lower Your Auto Insurance – Find out how to lower your auto insurance premium with these tips from Craig at Southern Way Insurance Agency.

  • Sell Your Home or Buy a New Home – The Cole Team would love an opportunity to help you sell or buy a home. Read a recent article they did about how to get your home ready to sell – click here. Call Stephanie or Meriellen at 770-316-3110 for more information about selling or buying!

Lawn Care Myths

  • Hire a New Lawn Care Company – USA Land Care has debunked five common lawn care myths. They also share how they can help you manage weeds, disease and more! Click here to read their article.

So here’s to a great 2016-2017 School Year … Enjoy the last few days of summer and enjoy those first few days of school too!

Back to School Supply Shopping

school supply shopping

Today’s article comes to you from Ashley Jansen. She is getting ready for the new school year and wanted to share some ways to shop for school supplies. She also shares a spreadsheet list she created as well as ways you can give back to those in need of school supplies this year. 

I know, I know – “School Supply Shopping” is probably the last thing you are wanting to see the second week of July. I promise you I’m not trying to make your summer feel shorter – I’m just trying to save you money & time!

School Supply Lists are already posted on your school’s websites. Please note – each school may be a little different so make sure you go to your school’s specific website. If you are like me, I have 3 children across 2 schools and in 3 grades. It was hard for me to keep it all straight of just how many folders, glue sticks, etc. I needed. So I made this simple Excel Spreadsheet that I’m sharing with you here. It should be easy for you to manipulate for your specific supply lists. Note: The yellow column is the one that has the formula in it so don’t clear that one. I’ve added some extra blanks at the bottom for you to add yours.

school supply shopping

You can download Ashley’s spreadsheet for free, by clicking here – School Supply Checklist

You might notice at the top I have BBC, H, L, & G. The last three initials are my son’s names. But the first, BBC, is our church. They do a backpack drive each year and put out their own list of supplies that are most needed by the schools and children in Forsyth and Dawson counties. These are the kids that need assistance in fulfilling their school supply shopping. So I add them to my school supply shopping list each year to give back.

If you are interested in helping provide school supplies to those unable to do so for themselves here are few options:

  • Backpacks of Love at Morrow Family Medicine
  • Forsyth County United Way – Stuff the Bus
    • Drop off is from 6/1-7/31 at the UW County Office (240 Elm Street) Monday thru Friday 9-5. You can CLICK HERE to see the supply list
  • Publix – School Tools for Cool Kids
    • Drop off is thru 7/31 at all local Publix stores. See each specific store for their specific supply list needs.
  • Browns Bridge Church – Back to School Backpack Drive
    • Drop off is 7/16 & 7/23 before and after all services (Services are at 9, 11, and 4:30) just inside the main lobby (3860 Browns Bridge Road). You can CLICK HERE to see the different supply lists for different age groups. (Because their labels are a little different I wanted to let you know: WaumbaLand = PreK; UpStreet = Elementary School; Transit = Middle School; InsideOut = High School). TIP::I have 2 boys in PreK and 1 in Elementary so I usually will match for each boy so they are a part of the giving experience. They each get to pick out the backpack and fill it with the supplies and turn it in to church – it’s a great learning experience.
    • Vickery Village Backpack Drive
    • Stuff the Bus at Northside Forsyth

So what about that promise at the beginning of me saving you money? Well here you go…I actually usually do all of my school supply shopping at Staples. This week they are having a great sale. If you buy a backpack you get all school supplies 25% off the already low sale price. My boys don’t need new backpacks, but because I will be buying one for the Church drive mentioned above I get to take advantage of the sale for all my boys as well. There are also great sales going on this week and next. TIP: I would recommend you pay close attention to this website – it always helps me with sales.

We would love to hear from you on this. Please post a comment with any school supply drives/donation centers you are supporting so the rest of us can help. And if you find any great sales and/or deals inform us of those too!

Happy Back to School Supply Shopping!!! (21 days and counting…now see…that was intentionally trying to make your summer sound shorter)

school supply shopping


Ashley Jansen is wife of 14 years to Mark and mom to three boys, Hamilton (10), Luke (5), and Garrett (2). Originally from Texas, she has lived in Forsyth County for the last 13 years. She loves Mexican food, watching football and baseball, reading a good book, making Excel spreadsheets, and prefers candy over chocolate and Dr. Pepper over Coke. She is a recent breast cancer survivor, but still prefers purple over pink.

To learn more about Ashley and our other contributing writers, click here.

Back to School in Forsyth County 2016-2017

Back to School Round-UP

Back to School in Forsyth County 2016-2017

Whether you’re in the “boo-hoo” club or the “woo-hoo” club, there’s no denying it … it’s almost back to school time in Forsyth County!  The school bell will ring in just a matter of DAYS now, so it’s time to get ready for all things back to school.

Here’s our run-down:

forsyth county schools

tax free weekend in georgia

back to school traditions

  • Get Ready for Some Back to School Traditions – make back to school fun with these ideas to capture the moments!

Back to school tips for kindergarten moms

  • Read Up – if you’re sending off a kindergartner this year, be sure to check out this article.  It’s an oldie but a goodie!

Vickery Chiropractic in Cumming Ga

  • Schedule a Back to School Adjustment – Be sure to keep the kiddos backs aligned and ready for a great school year!  I’ll be doing that with our friend and website sponsor Dr. Marchman at Vickery Chiropractic.  Give her a call and let her know Cumming Local sent you!

i9 Sports_Summer 2015

  • Register for Fall Sports – It may be 90+ degrees outside but it’s also the time to plan ahead and get the kids signed up for Fall Sports!  Our website sponsor, i9 Sports has a full line up to take advantage of!  Click here to get started.

Dream Dinners Cumming GA

  • Fill your Freezer with Meals – Let’s face it fall nights are super busy. So why not make dinner easier by filling your freezer with Dream Dinner meals! Click here to read about the Dream Dinner experience. Also, stay tuned because we will be having another Girl’s Night soon at Dream Dinners.

NightOut-350x350

  • Schedule in a Night Out for you and your friends: Studio Lotus and Talk of the Table are hosting a Night Out of Pilates & Wine Tasting on August 5th. Registration will open on July 15th so for now – save the date!

goldstar300x250

  • Enjoy just a little more fun – On of our favorite deal sites is stocked full of great savings right now!  They have tickets to the Atlanta, Gwinnett and Rome BRAVES plus tickets to see the Atlanta FALCONS too.  So squeeze in one more night of fun before school starts and go ahead and plan for some fall fun as well!  Click here for the latest deals.

So here’s to a great 2016-2017 School Year … Enjoy the last few days of summer and enjoy those first few days of school too!

Back to School in Forsyth County

Back to School Round-UP

Back to School in Forsyth County

Whether you’re in the “boo-hoo” club or the “woo-hoo” club, there’s denying it … it’s almost back to school time in Forsyth County!  The school bell will ring in just a matter of DAYS now, so it’s time to get ready for all things back to school.

Here’s our run-down:

forsyth county schools

  • Know the Important Dates – Of course check the Forsyth County Schools website for all official open house and related events.
  • Enjoy a Back to School Kidfest – Saturday, August 1st – check out the Belk Back to School Kidfest at Lakeland Plaza for face painting, prizes, a fashion show & more!
  • Enjoy a Back to School Bash – Saturday, August 1st – join Cumming Dance Academy, Ice Cream Social and Firehouse Barber Shop & Salon for a Back to School Bash.  There will be giveaways, discounted services, ice cream, performances & more!

back to school traditions

  • Get Ready for Some Back to School Traditions – make back to school fun with these ideas to capture the moments!

Back to school tips for kindergarten moms

  • Read Up – if you’re sending off a kindergartner this year, be sure to check out this article.  It’s an oldie but a goodie!

Oily Family Brand Ambassador

  • Get Ready NOW for Good Health this Fall – If you’ve ever considered starting an oily journey with your family, now’s the time!   With back to school just around the corner AND a current sale going on you’ll be on your way to a healthy decision and saving money too!  I love Young Living Essential Oils so much that I share through educational events – I’m happy to keep you in the loop on upcoming events or even schedule a time to meet one-on-one.  Click here to read and learn more.Vickery Chiropractic in Cumming Ga
  • Schedule a Back to School Adjustment – Be sure to keep the kiddos backs aligned and ready for a great school year!  I’ll be doing that with our friend and website sponsor Dr. Marchman at Vickery Chiropractic.  Give her a call and let her know Cumming Local sent you!

i9 Sports_Summer 2015

  • Register for Fall Sports – It may be 90+ degrees outside but it’s also the time to plan ahead and get the kids signed up for Fall Sports!  Our website sponsor, i9 Sports has a full line up to take advantage of!  Click here to get started.

Skin Solutions Large Ad

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  • Enjoy just a little more fun – On of our favorite deal sites is stocked full of great savings right now!  They have tickets to the Atlanta, Gwinnett and Rome BRAVES plus tickets to see the Atlanta FALCONS too.  So squeeze in one more night of fun before school starts and go ahead and plan for some fall fun as well!  Click here for the latest deals.

So here’s to a great 2015-2016 School Year … Enjoy the last few days of summer and enjoy those first few days of school too!

Forsyth County Back to School 2014

Forsyth County Schools Open House

Forsyth County Back to School 2014

It is hard to believe, that the start of the 2014-2015 school year is just around the corner!!  But it’s true.  It’s time to start thinking about “Back to School” in Forsyth County Schools – or time to at least start putting dates on your calendar!

Make sure your calendar is marked with these important dates:

Monday, August 4th – Middle School Open House (Check your school website for specific times)
Tuesday, August 5th – Elementary School Open House (Check your school website for specific times)
High Schools – Check your school website for specific information

Thursday, August 7th – First Day of School

Important Note for Parents of a rising Kindergarten Student:

  • Forsyth County Elementary Schools offer a Kindergarten Bus Round Up day.  This is a great opportunity to ride the bus WITH your child, follow the bus route, and let your child get comfortable with only a few kids on board.  The dates vary by school so either visit your school’s website or contact them by phone.  If you are registered you should be contacted by the bus driver, but if this is important to you, you may want to get ahead of the game just in case by checking with your direct school.

Important Links:

Forsyth County Schools

Forsyth County Schools 2014 – 2015 Calendar

 

Here’s to a great year for you & your family!

Photo Source:  D Sharon Pruitt

United Way in Forsyth County Stuff the Bus

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United Way in Forsyth County Stuff the Bus

Team up with United Way of Forsyth County and other community partners to help “Stuff the Bus” with school supplies for children in need!  Help get Forsyth County students off to a great 2014 school year by simply donating items from this list.

Drop Off Sites:

  • United Way of Forsyth County Office – 240 Elm Street, Cumming GA 30040
    Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Walmart Supercenter – 1500 Marketplace Blvd, Cumming GA 30041
    Saturday, July 19th & Saturday, July 26th – 11am to 1pm
  • Walmart Supercenter – 5455 Atlanta Hwy, Alpharetta GA 30040
    Saturday, July 19th & Saturday, July 26th – 11am to 1pm

Interested in Helping More? 

Are you part of a local company or organization and want to collect supplies for Stuff the Bus?  Contact Melissa Corliss today at 770.781.4110770.781.4110 to see how you can get involved!

Click here for more information

Back to School Traditions

back to school traditions

Back to School Traditions

So.  Whether you like it or not, as August rolls around it’s time for “back to school”.  And with back to school, comes back to school traditions.

You’ve done the obvious – you’ve checked the Forsyth County Schools website for the school calendar, Open House Schedules, bus maps, school supplies and more.  But what about the fun stuff?

Looking for fun Back to School Traditions?

Maybe these few will inspire you to start a new back to school tradition:

  • Host a Back to School Dinner like this one from The Shabby Nest –  A great way to have a fun dinner and make sure everyone’s around the table to plan for the first day or talk about everything that happened that first day.
  • Receive a visit from The Magic School Bus – If you’re a fan of the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, The Leprechaun, Tooth Fairy … all those things, then this is right up your alley!  With a knock at the door kids are greeted with a special message and tools or gifts to get them ready for the first day!
  • Lunch Box Taste Test Party – I love this idea!  I get bored of making the same thing day after day for my kids so I imagine they get bored of eating it too!  This sounds like a really fun way to test new recipes and see what might “pass the test” for the new school year!
  • Complete a First Day of School Interview – This would be great to do during dinner after the first day.  Sometimes kids need a little prompting to remember everything that went on.  And I love the idea of having this as a keepsake.
  • Create a Time Capsule – My son has one of these from his first year of Kindergarten, but you could do almost any year and make it fun.

And of course there’s the obligatory first day of school picture – that’s a must!!

Oh – and if you have a rising Kindergarten student, you’ve got to check out this cute “O-fish-ally” a Kindergartener craft!

Do you have any Back to School Traditions?

Comment below & share with us!!

EXPIRED: Discount on KiddoTags for Back to School Labels

KiddoTags Back to School Labels

 This post contains sponsor/ affiliate links – meaning if you purchase the deal from the links provided, Cumming Local will receive a small percentage.  Cumming Local is thankful for all our sponsors as this allows our website to stay up to date & running!  Therefore hopefully you’re thankful for them too!

Discount on KiddoTags for Back to School Labels

If you don’t know already, I’m a big fan of the company KiddoTags – for several reasons.  The label company is locally owned & operated by a Cumming, GA mother – woohoo!!  The products are great – excellent quality, great price, and can totally be customized for whatever style you’re looking for.  And today, I’m a fan because there is a GREAT discount floating around just in time for KiddoTags Back to School Labels!!

$40 Worth of KiddoTag products for just $20!!!

The 50% off deal is being featured on Mamasource.  If you haven’t signed up to receive Mamasouce deals, click here to get started & save!

UPDATE:  Plum District just came out with an even better deal – $40 worth of KiddoTag products for just $20 PLUS a $5 Certificate for future purchases!  If you haven’t signed up to receive Plum District deals, click here to get started.

Each year, I stock up with new labels.  It helps so much when it’s time to label everything for the first day of school.  I can get away with one label on most things for the entire school year – even water bottles that get washed daily!  So I definitely get my money’s worth out of them.  If you haven’t tried the labels yet (and certainly if you have), now is a great time to stock up!

So don’t wait – this deal is just available for to purchase for five days, click here to get started & save!

 

Forsyth County Back to School 2013

Forsyth County Schools Open House

Forsyth County Back to School 2013

It is hard to believe, that the start of the 2013-2014 school year is just around the corner!!  But it’s true.  It’s time for Back to School time for Forsyth County Schools – or time to at least start putting dates on your calendar!

Make sure your calendar is marked with these important dates:

Monday, August 5th – Middle School Open House (Check your school website for specific times)
Tuesday, August 6th – Elementary School Open House (Check your school website for specific times)
High Schools – Check your school website for specific information

Thursday, August 8th – First Day of School

Important Note for Parents of a rising Kindergarten Student:

  • Forsyth County Elementary Schools offer a Kindergarten Bus Round Up day.  This is a great opportunity to ride the bus WITH your child, follow the bus route, and let your child get comfortable with only a few kids on board.  The dates vary by school so either visit your school’s website or contact them by phone.  If you are registered you should be contacted by the bus driver, but if this is important to you, you may want to get ahead of the game just in case by checking with your direct school.

Important Links:

Forsyth County Schools

Forsyth County Schools 2013 – 2014 Calendar

 

Here’s to a great year for you & your family!

Photo Source:  D Sharon Pruitt