Back to School hacks

Posted at 12:49 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 12:49:08-04

The alarm goes off earlier, and the amount we need done before we walk out the door is nearly doubled.

When you hear the term “back-to-school,” you might be ready to hit your own snooze alarm, but we’re working hard to figure out how you can do that and still get the kids prepared for the bus stop.

7 Action News searched high and low for some of the best “hacks” to prepare the little ones for the school day.

Nicole Wrobel, a teacher and mother of two, agreed to share some of her secrets, and try out some of our own “life hacks” to determine how helpful they’d be. As Wrobel explained, she started meal prepping years ago when she had her second daughter — it’s helped a lot, and that’s important because some things can’t be sped up.

“We have hair, getting dressed and we have to get them out of the door for the bus,” explained Wrobel. “I didn’t realize how much time I wasted every morning until I had to make sure both of the girls were off to school.”

HACK 1: Meal-prep

The Wrobel family is all about meal prep. They’ve added an old plastic bag-style shoe rack to the inside of their cupboard for easy snack organization. That makes it easy to snag the dry snacks quickly, and easily, when packing lunches. They do the same with a few drawers in the refrigerator.

HACK 2: Frozen sandwiches

We tried a new “hack” that fits that mold: frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It may sound weird, but a frozen PB & J can last four-to-six weeks in the fridge according to the Money-Saving Mom blog.

Imagine making all the sandwiches you need in one day — it may take a few extra minutes, but it subtracts the setup/work time for every other day. It’ll thaw during the day and be ready in time for lunch - and even if you don’t eat the same sandwich every day, with a 4-to-6 week window you can save quite a bit.

HACK 3: Outfit Planning

This was a favorite of the Wrobel family because it doubled down arts-and-crafts time and seems like a winner with Adelyn and Emerson, the 3rd and 5th grader in their home.

The idea is to create tags that can bundle hangers.

We bought a few card stock cutouts of men/women symbols and the kids decorated five of them with colored pencils. They had a blast coloring, and when it was done we had them plan out full outfits and bundle them.

It gives the school-kids flexibility to change their minds in the morning, without having to scramble to find clothing.

Adelyn, the youngest, said she enjoyed it: “I think it’s a really good idea, you already have five outfits picked out.”

Her big sister, Emerson, said she loved it because she’s the organizer of the family: “Yeah, definitely — I think it’s cool because it’s really organized.”

HACK 4: Skip the ice box

Our final hack is simple, but effective: skip the ice box! We’re not advocating getting rid of all the cold food, but instead using your juice box as the ice box!

This “hack” comes from “Snap Guide” — the idea is to freeze an apple juice box, or some other type of juice and throw it in the lunchbox. It will keep things cool for an extended period of time, but also eliminates the chance your child loses the ice box. It also avoids any need to clean the ice box repeatedly throughout the school year as every day your child will simply grab a new “ice box.”