The date is circled on the magnetic dry-erase calendar on the refrigerator and the kids are already well into the planning stages for the first day of school. But as I reach into the freezer for Monday pizza night, the date taunts me. I'm feeling a mix of trepidation and anticipation about the new school year.
I'd love to tell you I'm perfectly prepared for the new year, with supplies and clothes, all purchased on a reasonable budget, and summer worksheets, all completed and checked. Instead, just like every other year, despite my best intentions I'll be shopping the leftovers from the back-to-school sales right along with the other procrastinators. I'll be managing crazy morning routines that leave me frustrated before I even hit traffic on the Eisenhower.
We don't want you to end up scrambling like I do every year. We've tried to help you in your own planning with this year's back-to-school guide. Our staff tested boxes and boxes of healthy snacks and lunch containers; plus we found some creative snacks you can create yourself to make hitting the books after a long day of school so much more fun. We looked at products that stood out, but found only a few supplies this year that merited a mention.
We also offer reports on waste-free schools, ways to save money on back-to-school shopping, tips for going allergy-free in your child's classroom this year and the debate over whether tech toys for the preschool set can really give them an edge over other kids.
We've even offered simple ways to streamline your mornings.
I found this month's story by Web Editor Liz Hoffman particularly helpful in the friend department. I wish I had such an easy-to-understand guide about helping my kids make friends when they were younger. Though they've always had friends, I'm not sure many of them are the lifelong kinds of relationships we all crave.
The story on kids abusing over-the-counter cough medicines for the high created much discussion among the moms I've told about it. We'd all like to think our kids would never ever ever do such a thing because we've done a good job raising them correctly and teaching them about drugs and right vs. wrong. But as we learn in writer Joe Menard's story, it's a threat that should put all parents of tweens and teens on the alert.
Most importantly, as you prepare for back to school, remember to take a breath and savor these last days of summer with your kids. As I am finding out myself, the kids grow up much too quickly.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.