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Back-to-School Checklist for Mom

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Mom and child on first day of school

A new school year is all about fresh starts. Here's a back-to-school checklist to keep you organized and stress-free – and make sure your kids kick off the school year right.

Five weeks ahead
Tackle that summer reading. If your child has a reading list, pack those books in the beach bag. Or visit the American Library Association for recommendations to keep kids intellectually active so they can hit the ground running when classes start.

Three weeks ahead
Shop for school clothes. Stores have stocked up for fall, so look for the sales. Also make a stop for mouthwash, skin-care products and hair essentials so they can make a great first impression.

Set up for homework success. Whether it's in their bedroom or a corner of the kitchen, set up a spot that's dedicated to homework. Make sure it's well lit and away from distractions like the TV. (Check out these inspiring ideas.)

Two weeks ahead
Organize your entry. It all collects right by the door – textbooks, art projects and cleats. Cubbies and wall hooks can simplify rushed mornings. Stock a basket with late-summer essentials like sunscreen and sunglasses; switch it over to gloves and hats when nippy weather arrives.

Pack up the backpack. Pencils? Check. Ruler? Check. What about extra shoelaces, bandages, hand sanitizer? Pack a life's-little-emergencies kit in a zippered plastic bag (or even make your own pouch!) that can live alongside the textbooks and gym shorts.

Draft a daily schedule. You don’t want mornings to feel like reruns of "Beat the Clock." Map it out – how much time for breakfast? For primping? For finding that lost textbook? Smartphone apps can help keep everyone on the same digital page once you head out the door.

One week ahead
Populate your calendar. Most schools offer a list of important days to remember – conferences, concerts, professional development days. Plug it all into your calendar now so you'll be prepared to chaperone field trips or make bake-sale muffins.

Streamline school lunches. Pull together all the plastic containers and thermoses. Having your kids' favorite fruits and snacks on hand could get them more excited to pack their own lunchboxes.

Three days ahead
Wind down to earlier bedtimes. Help kids ease back into school-year sleep schedules with a soothing evening routine. Bathtime with light massage and aromatherapy can go a long way to getting kids settled.

The night before
It's go time. Now you can focus on calming the first-day jitters as they get revved up for the best school year ever!

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