How to Get Ready for "Back to School" as a Parent
Back to school doesn't have to be a struggle with these tips to get your family prepped and ready to go.
Summer break is quickly drawing to a close and school is looming in the not-so-distant future. While your kids enjoy their last days of relaxation, and you gear up for another action-packed year, consider some tricks that will have everyone up and ready to meet this fresh start with some ease. We know, you're skeptical. But, trust us, there are ways to help your family transition from summer freedom to stricter schedules. From cleaning clothes for back-to-school brightness to making sure that wardrobe stays out of the lost and found, these projects will have your kids prepped to be teachers' pets. And since we know that you're secretly looking forward to more time alone, we included a project that isn't for your kids at all — and that's worth all of the back-to-school preparations.
Clean Clothes With the Help of One Household Staple
[These 11 ways to wash clothes](http://wwwehowcom/how_4557254_wash-clothes-vinegarhtml) to get them looking like new only requires one kitchen ingredient: vinegar! You won't need to run out and get your kids new clothes for the year, you just a bottle of white vinegar and a measuring cup to give the threads they have new life. You can brighten shades, kill odors, remove stains, reduce static and more.
Identify Whose Clothes Belong to Whom With Name Tags
Prevent all those nice clean clothes from ending up in the lost-and-found with [these cute laundry tags](http://wwwehowcom/how_6618802_make-laundry-name-tags-homehtml) Both subtle and stylish, these name tags require only a needle and thread to sew into your kid's school uniforms. There won't be any sweatshirt mix-ups on your watch!.
Battle Odors With Homemade Sachets
While [these lovely potpourri sachets](http://wwwehowcom/how_4863229_make-homemade-sachetshtml) work well tucked away in drawers or closets, consider making a few to toss into your kids backpacks, gym bags or lockers, too. With a few four-inch squares of colorful fabric and some dried lavender, you'll be able to whip these up before one too many brown bananas get lost in the fray.
Wash Away Schoolyard Grime With Liquid Soap
When asking "Did you wash your hands?" over and over makes you feel like a broken record, take comfort in the fact that [this liquid hand soap](http://wwwehowcom/how_5809197_make-lemon-liquid-hand-soaphtml) will wash away even the toughest muck your kids bring home. The lemony-scented essential oil will smell wonderful, and olive oil will leave skin soft and supple. You may never know how your kids got so dirty, but rest assured they won't have to stay that way.
Build the Perfect Bench for Putting on Shoes
[An uncomplicated DIY bench](http://wwwehowcom/how_4778852_build-bench-seathtml) that has just the right combination of industrial chic and practical utility is essential for any mudroom or entryway. Give your kids a place to lace up their shoes or take off their boots without tipping over or tracking dirt all through the house. This wood plank and plumbing pipe bench will help make mornings a little more streamlined.
Dress Up a Boring Cork Board
School schedules can be complex. With so much to keep track of, like after-school sports, clubs and classes, [this fabric memo board](http://wwwehowcom/how_4505519_make-fabric-memo-boardhtml) can help you stay so organized your family will be running like a well oiled machine — or, at the very least, running on time. With only a few supplies, plus that old cork board you found in the garage, you can bring order to chaos.
Display All of Your Child's Accomplishments Like a Gallery Would
Papers and artwork can start stacking up even after day one. When the pile of your child's accomplishments seems to be growing faster than he is, then [this easy-to-make home gallery](http://wwwehowcom/how_12343219_easytomake-home-gallery-display-kids-arthtml) is a great solution. By hanging your child's art on wires with clips, you can switch out doodles and drawings for the latest and greatest creations over the entire school year.
Indulge in a Cup of Coffee Before the Kids Wake Up
Time flies, especially when you are hustling to get everyone out the door. Make sure you have a little morning "me time" and a hot cup of joe without worrying about sacrificing your counter space. [This classy coffee bar](http://wwwehowcom/how_6245155_design-coffee-bar-kitchenhtml), complete with an inspirational saying, has everything you need for an am. pick-me-up all in one place.
Make a Dinner Casserole Ahead of Time
The first day of school can be hectic, so cooking dinner can seem daunting after a long day. Make your life a little easier by preparing [this delicious cheesy potato casserole](http://wwwehowcom/how_2111665_bake-cheesy-potato-casserolehtml) ahead of time. It tastes so good, you might want to make two and throw one in the freezer for later!.
Build a Backyard Bar to Last
The kids ruled the yard all summer long, but once school's in session, the tables finally turn. Make the most of your outdoor space and pour some drinks on [this swanky backyard bar](http://wwwehowcom/how_2188791_build-outdoor-barhtml). The solid cement slab counter is the perfect surface for mixing cocktails and the wooden shelf in the base is a great spot to store glasses and supplies. While the kids have homework, you'll have happy hour!.