HDYDI: Get Ready for a New School Year

It’s here.

The smell of fresh leather shoes, shiny new backpacks and freshly sharpened pencils. A new school year is arrived and I’d be the biggest, fattest liar if I told you I was ready. But, here we are. Just nine days out and it’s time to get my lazy hiney in gear. With four in “big school” and one in “little school,” here’s how we get ready for a new year of learning, growing and getting smarter.

After School Chore Checklist
Y’ALL. These have saved my life. Go ahead, download your own after school chore chart;ย and, you can click here for an explanation of how we use them.

After School Chore Checklist2School Paper Filing System
Whether it’s a homework station, a file box for the special papers and artwork or taming the after school crazy, this will help. This box was originally inspired by the ever-creative, ever-talented Jen from iHeartOrganizing.


Manage Extracurricular Activities
If you ask me, kids today are WAY too busy. We’ve lost the ability to focus on fostering our children’s natural gifts and abilities, and instead, we sign them up for everything. I just can’t do it – financial, logistically or psychologically. Here’s what works for us in taming the after-school activity beast.

baseball, blog_118

Enlist Your Kids’ Help Around the House
Here at Team Whitaker, we refer to that as “Citizen of the Household” duties, or COH, for short. If you live here, you must pitch in to help. Things like loading/unloading the dishwasher, making your bed, taking out the trash, setting the table, etc., are all part of your family fee. My children don’t need a maid, they need a mom. Teaching them to live as part of a team will pay dividends for the rest of their life. Sloths need not apply at our house. Here’s how we organize the COH duties. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, chores start at age two and COH duties are a non-paying gig. We sometimes give our children a dollar or two for “above and beyond” duties like raking the yard, organizing a cabinet or cleaning out seasonal clothes in his/her closet. {Blogger note: it looks like the company that designed our chore chart, EM Tanner, is no longer in business. Boo! But, here’s an option that’s close that I found on Etsy.}



Plan Your Meals
People often ask how we eat on $600 a month with seven people. The answer? My boys aren’t teenagers. Yet. Right now, I can swing it. But, more importantly, planning the meals a month at a time and then grocery shopping once a week makes for a less hectic (and less expensive) dinner time. Here’s how we do it.

Meal PlanningCut the Cord
Not only will you save some serious cash, but we’ve found you also get your life back. Cutting out TV in the house has been one of the best things we ever did. Snip, snip.

Become a Zero TV Home

I always feel like the start of school for the kids is a new start for the hubs and I. We spent many hours driving to and from summer camp pickup this past weekend which resulted in some serious van talk. It was pretty fabulous. So many ideas. So many new starts. So much in store. We’ll see what God has to say about it all.

Tomorrow, I’ll be chatting about the spiritual side of a new school year over at Austin Catholic New Media. It involves new backpacks and freshly sharpened pencils. I know, now you’re just dying to read it, aren’t you? Until then!

Blog ButtonFor more HDYDI posts, visit myย How I Do It Page.


  1. Gail on August 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

    How did you make your chore chart? Did you have it made or did you make it yourself? I have 11 kiddos and 9 are still at home & I would love to have a chore chart like yours..just picking your brain.


    • Kathryn on August 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Gail, I bought it from EM Tanner designs, but when I clicked on their link, it looks like they’ve gone out of business – BOO! I’d suggest doing a Pinterest search on magnetic chore charts to see what else is out there.

      • Lisa Schmidt on August 16, 2013 at 7:59 am

        Girl, I would have bet dollars to donuts that you created that chore chart.

    • Kathryn on August 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Gail, here’s one option I found on Etsy. I can’t vouch for the quality for the price since I haven’t used it, but it looks promising! http://www.etsy.com/listing/118993593/chore-chart-chore-board?ref=related-0

  2. Nicole on August 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Ah – Back to School. Such a fun, hectic and exciting time for everyone. What do you do for backpacks? I feel like my son’s just needs a good cleaning since he used it for camp, and it could maybe take another year. But yet, getting new seems like the thing to do now, since they are on sale (and won’t be if he destroys it come January). Do you just trash them at the end of the year?

    • Kathryn on August 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Good question, Nicole. Of the five from last year, I trashed one. The others were decent, but I know they won’t last but a couple of months. So, I bought new ones, knowing I have backups if needed! I have a revolving stash of emergency backpacks. I only trash them if they’re torn, super stained or broken. And, sometimes, I’ve donated the gently used ones.

      • Nicole on August 12, 2013 at 11:07 am

        Thanks, Kathryn. I like the idea of an emergency stash. Good luck getting school year ready!

  3. Cathy Thoman on August 12, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    regarding cleaning the backpacks…. I throw them in the washing machine. Lunch boxes too. I only buy backpacks from Eddie Bauer for the last 10 years or so. They easily last all 4 years of high school. Watch for sales and they are money well spent!

  4. Babs on August 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Very timely! Thanks! Starting kindergarten and I am terrified!

  5. Julia Motekaitis on August 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Mmm! Sausage stuffed french rolls, we’re coming to Austin on the 23rd for that one! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for sharing these amazing resources. I’m incapacitated in boo-hoo-hoo denial mode on the couch about school starting and this will pull me back together. Borrowing and sharing for sure, thank you!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Bonnie on August 12, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Seeing how organized you are makes me realize how unorganized I am! Ack!

    • Kathryn on August 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      Just remember when I sent my first to school I didn’t do any of this!! It came with time ๐Ÿ˜‰ Y’all will have a great year.

  7. Maureen Davis on August 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

    God bless all and all you do! Maureen

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