The Secret Way We Make Back to School Time Less Stressful

There are times when I look at my to-do list and have to lie down. And then eat some ice cream. Then lie down again. Because sometimes the only way to deal with the crazy amount of tasks that require my attention is to become completely and totally paralyzed until the very last minute when I do a marathon session and accomplish more in one evening than my younger self did in a year. This is fine on occasion, but too many of these sessions and I’m a grumpy, pants-busting mess.

And, you all know where we’re headed: back to school. My daughter is only in preschool so we have it way easy, but even still, the change of season signals things are starting to get real again. Good-bye to warm, easy evenings where the kids run around outside while we relax over dinner; it’s starting to get dark early, which means more hands-on time, indoors. Instead of looking forward to our vacation and the chance to do nothing, the kids are already planning for Halloween with Christmas on its heels (I’m thinking about all the tasks that come with both). And none of this takes into account all of the carpooling, lunch packing, homework, and activities I know moms with older kids are thinking about.

Is it any wonder we all want to crawl up under the covers and hibernate until it is summer again?

Last year at this time, I decided to stop the madness and make a change. I decided to give up. Not on everything, obviously, but I decided to give up one big thing — something that was draining me and adding to the stress of our lives, something I was only holding onto because I thought I “should” do it. For us, last year, it was cleaning the house (I can hear angels singing as I say it a year later).

This was a HUGE deal for me. I come from a long line of cleaners. My grandma vacuumed every day, and you can literally eat off my mom’s floors (I may have dropped a cake on them that I then served at a dinner party and didn’t even feel guilty about it because they’re that clean), and we share cleaning tips like other families pass around recipes (try shaving cream on your car mats; it works like a dream!). So, my going rogue and hiring a cleaning lady felt like an admission of failure. Not to mention, the extra money, the fact I can actually do it myself, and the worry I was training my kids to be lazy (all of my concerns disappeared completely the moment I stepped into my newly cleaned house!).

As for the worry that I would suddenly turn into a lazy lump because of my outsourcing? Yeah, there’s still plenty to do, believe me.

Last year was such a success I’ve decided to give up something again this year (and make it a yearly ritual). It’s small, but I’m going to stop worrying about what my kids are wearing and let them be the crazy, creative people they are. It’s this weird battle I occasionally take on (usually when we’re going out with new friends or heading somewhere I want the kids to look cute), but I’m realizing it is really about me and wanting others to see my kids in a certain way, which isn’t a place I want to spend energy. So, I’m giving up and saying bring on the pony dress with the mismatched tights and the superhero sweatshirt; it sounds like an absolutely adorable outfit, and, besides, I’m too busy relaxing with my ice cream to worry about it anyway.

And in the vein of keeping things easy, I’ve put together a few of my favorite Back to School outfits from Kmart for boys and girls. Happy shopping!

   girls outfits for first day of school from Kmart

Look 1 (from left):

Route 66 Plaid/Floral Shirt (the back is so cute!): $11.89 // Distressed Denim Vest: $13.99 // Pink Skinny Jeans: $11.99 – 13.99

Look 2: 

Lace and Floral Print Sweatshirt: $11.89 // Knit, Cargo Leggings: $11.89 // Joe Fresh Peace and Hearts High-Tops: $10

Look 3: 

Piper Girl’s Wrap Effect Dress: $13.29 // Quilted Moto Jacket: $20.99 // Zebra Stripe Knit Leggings

boys outfits for first day of school from Kmart

Look 1 (from left):

Mesh Panel Skull T-shirt: $9.09 // Space Dyed Hoodie Jacket: $17.49 // Denim Joggers: $17.99

Look 2: 

Raglan Baseball T-shirt: $8.98 // Straight Leg Jeans: $15.39 // Star Wars Slip-ons: $9.99

Look 3: 

Long-sleeve Graphic Tee: $10.49 // Route 66 Hoodie Jacket: $13.99 // Twill Jogger Pants

*This post is sponsored by KMart. Thoughts and opinions are my own.