From Z to A: 8 Back-to-School Tips for the Best Year Yet

School is begining before we know it. I always feel unprepared, and just as I get into the groove of things with summer vacation, I see all the back-to-school sales. So, if you’re anything like me, you probably need all the help available to get back into gear. Here are the top things that help me and my family organize and prepare for back-to-school life.


After School Checklists

One of the biggest headaches I have is dealing with the burst of energy after school. How do you go from a quiet “get things done” mode to nonstop energy? Personally, we all benefit from having a mini checklist so that we’re all on the same page. This can be as basic as a handwritten list on the fridge or something more interactive like a dry-erase board with tasks and boxes to check off. We have a simple list: Put up backpacks, empty lunch boxes, change clothes and then do homework with a snack. We have another list for nighttime: Put out uniform, socks and shoes, make sure backpacks are by the door and make lunches to put in the fridge. This makes getting out in the morning a breeze.



Is there a more dread-inducing aspect of returning to school than coming up with healthy-ish and different meals that the kids will actually eat? No. The school lunch dread is real, but a few simple tricks can really help ease any fears you may have about packing great lunches. Other than Pinterest, Lala Lunchbox is amazing. It’s an interactive app that lets you select items, plan lunches based on what you have and help with grocery lists. Even the kids can get involved and plan their own lunches. This app takes some of the guessing out of packing lunches and saves you from the daily sandwich rut. There’s always Pinterest if you’re just plum out of inspiration.




Speaking of lunches, how do you pack a versatile lunch? With so many options out there, it’s hard to pick a good one that’ll last and be flexible enough for a variety of meals. My two favorites are the LunchBlox sets and Takenaka bento boxes. The LunchBlox set is cute and colorful and has a few different boxes for different condiments. My younger kids love them and they hold up well. The Takenaka boxes are versatile and gorgeous, especially for older kids (and maybe for your lunch, too!)


Lunchbox Notes

Sometimes a small note can go a long way. I usually add a little Post-it note or sticker in the kids’ lunchboxes to say something funny or just remind them that they’re loved. But recently, I came across these scratch-off lunch box notes, which are super cute. These are absolutely not necessary, but I’ve noticed happier kids on the days I send one.

After School Snack Station

Let’s talk more about food because apparently school-aged children only think about snacks, snacks and more snacks. I try to stay ahead of the curve by having a station set up with snacks ahead of time. I have one in the pantry and another in the fridge for colder snacks like cheese and yogurt. This sounds like one of those “Ain’t nobody got time for that” moments, but trust me, take the time to get this in place before school starts and your lives will be much easier.




With the school year comes a plethora of school-related activities, sports meets and practices. It becomes easy to get sucked into event after event if you can’t visually see what’s on the docket. If you’re old school like me, then a handy paper calendar works well and provides an instant visual for the whole family. Otherwise, Cozi has a wonderful interactive family calendar that everyone can use to add events online or via the app.


Educational Tools

My kids want to get on the iPad or TV as soon as they get a free chance. But with so much random stuff out there, it’s easier and sometimes more entertaining for them to play educational games instead. The Khan Academy is great to fill their time as well as ABCMouse depending on your child’s age.



There are so many apps out there nowadays to make our lives easier! Start with Retailmenot. This helps you find the best deals and sales. This comes in handy with all that back-to-school shopping. GFlash helps students create quick flashcards on any subject. This is a great tool to interact with your kids about what they’re learning in school. Herecomesthebus is another great app if your kids take the bus. You can track your child’s bus and make sure you’re prepared instead of being too early or too late. Another great one is Artkive. This clever app takes all your kids’ drawings and important work and turns them into a printed book. This helps with the long-term clutter which is always a win!



From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer for Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit and on Tiktok at @happiestfoodonearth.

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