5 Super-Easy Tips for Getting Organized for Back to School While Maintaining Your Sanity!

You're in the thick of it now. School supply lists, new gym shoes, a new teacher you're not sure of for your kindergartener, and wondering if last year's backpacks good enough for this year. Back to school brings all kinds of excitement: for you (yay! I get my life back!) and for your kids (yay! We get to see our friends again!). But back to school also brings its share of anxiety & chaos. Gone are the lazy mornings of summer and crackers for lunch. Now you need to pull your little tribe together and get them out the door & on their way. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could do all that AND maintain your sanity? Yeah, we thought so, too!

To help you keep that sanity and transition well this fall, we've compiled a list of 5 super-easy tips to get you organized for back to school as well as to de-stress, so when the time comes you'll be happily, peacefully waving a loving hand at your beloved smalls as the school bus whisks them off for the new school year! Read on, and feel your heartbeat slow, just a little.

1. Make a Master List.

You've got supply lists to fulfill, class registration days for middle school, and what day does cross-country start for your sophomore? Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea, a large piece of paper, your calendar, and your favorite pen or sharpie. Then, with a deep breath, list out all the things you need to do between now and eternity. (Trust us, you'll feel better if you get it out of your head.) Write down the teacher meetings, the starting days for athletics or extracurriculars, and any phone calls you need to make. Just getting it all down on paper is a huge step toward getting your family organized for all that fall throws at you!

2. Assess what you have.

Before you load up the mini van and head to Walmart, take stock of what you have at home that can be reused. Do you need all brand new supplies, clothes, AND school bags? Or will last year's backpack make the transition from preschool to kindergarten? Did you buy clearance last year and have a stack of crayons or colored pencils stowed away somewhere? Go through your storage and your kids' rooms, collect what can be reused, and check those items off your master to-do list. See that? You're better than you thought you were, and well on your way.

3. Go Shopping, but Make it Fun.

Yep, you have to buy gym shoes for 3 or your 4 kids, but you can have a good time with it, too. Instead of grumbling about the cost (even in your own head; sometimes that's worse than verbalizing it.), call out a dance-off. As each kid tries on his or her potential new shoes, challenge them to show you their best dancing steps! Before long, everyone is smiling, and instead of drudgery, you've created great mommy moments. Shoes bought, AND family bonded. Check and check! Try adding fun to other parts of your shopping, too: maybe a special lunch or a last-of-summer ice cream treat. Kids will remember the fun you infuse into the most mundane of places, and school shopping is certainly one of them!

4. Hack Away.

Feeling overwhelmed by your kids' school and activities schedule? Maybe before you jump in over your head take a look and see if there's anything that can be cut out. Does your preschooler need 3 extracurricular activities, or will 1 do? Do you need to hand-make every kids' lunch every.single.day., or can you teach your 8- and 10-year-olds to make their own lunches? And while it's tempting to load up your schedule (even with fun, adulting activities!) as soon as the kiddos go back to school, now may be the time to pare back your own activity list to build in a little more margin. Oh, margin: that subversive and wonderful ideal!

5. Relax. (and Go Easy on Yourself!)

Really. You can only do so much. You've compiled the lists, gotten the supplies, registered for the activities. Your kids are geared and raring to go. Let them go, but along with them, let go of your expectations of perfection. This year will have its fair share of ups and downs, you will make mistakes in mothering, and chances are, you'll forget an activity, a sign-off, or a snack for your first grader. It's okay, and it doesn't matter. You're not perfect, and you're doing a great job! Let THAT be the mantra that carries you into and through this new school year.