Back-to-School Survival Tactics

The beginning of the school year can be a source of stress or relief, depending on how you look at it. The upside is getting everyone back on a schedule. The downside: saying goodbye to those slow mornings and unstructured days. Regardless of your mindset, we checked in with some of our busy Scouted members, who know a thing or two about juggling life and family, for their tried-and-true tactics that keep their family ship not only afloat, but sailing smoothly into fall.

Interior design by Mel Bean Interiors of The Scout Guide Tulsa. Photography by Laurey Glenn.


“To help with day-to-day, each of our girls have a hook at the back door where their backpack and jacket goes when we get home from school. They get their homework out right there and pack the bag back so it’s ready to go in the morning without running around trying to find everything.” – Kacie Trexler, mom to kids ages 9, 6, and 3; owner of Sweet E’s Children’s Boutique in Ooltewah, Tennessee

“Having daily checklists for the kids has been a game-changer, fostering a sense of peace in our morning routine. With a completed list in hand, our kids enjoy breakfast, a bit of iPad time, and a sweet sense of accomplishment. In turn, we can relax knowing they’re all set for their day. Kids are helpful, so don’t underestimate them! It’s not just about brushing teeth and putting on shoes, items on our lists include emptying the dishwasher and caring for the family dog, too.” – Mary Butterfield, mom to kids ages 10, 8, and 5; co-owner of Hydrate IV Bar in Arcadia, Scottsdale, and Flagstaff, Arizona

“For my girls that are still too young to dress themselves, I plan their outfits organized by the day of the week in a hanging sweater organizer. The entire outfit should be included so you’re not running around looking for a matching sock as the family is trying to get out the door. Specials (Art, PE, Music), field trips, inclement weather, should be taken into account when deciding outfits. This is also a great organizational tactic that they can learn from.” – Carmy Mincey, mom to kids ages 6, 4, and 18 months; co-founder of MomBrain in Austin, Texas

“We created a family email address and that’s been a big game-changer. We put this email on every school form and anything child-related. That way we have one place where all those school emails are arriving, and our personal or work in-boxes aren’t being overloaded. It also makes it easy to search our in-box for school supply lists, important dates, etc. We also use this email to log in to school and sports portal apps.” – Susan Fowler, mom to kids ages 19, 16, 14, 11, and 10; co-owner of Armaloo and owner of Fowler Studios in Newport News, Virginia


“As a mom of three girls ages 3 to 9, our schedule and days can get a little wild! Before the school year starts, I print out the school calendar and put it in our digital family calendar. Having these dates stored in my phone is a simple way to start the year feeling ready.” – Kacie Trexler

“We created a family command center with a wall calendar in the kitchen and all the family activities are on it. We also have all their school info—pick-up and drop- off times, bus routes, school phone numbers, as well as the master school calendar printed out so we can see exactly which days they have off of school and can plan ahead. If someone has a big project due, we write it on the calendar. We also write in when we’re working outside of normal work hours so the kids can mentally prepare. The kids are invited to tape up their invitations, certificates, etc., throughout the year. There are a ton of cute ones you can buy, but we’ve found that a blank wall with a calendar works best for us, and then anything else we just tape up and pull down as needed.” – Susan Fowler

“One of the best-kept parenting secrets is scheduling a standing date night. Our sitter arrives every Tuesday night like clockwork, and we either go out by ourselves or with friends. Having quality time together, taking a break from making dinner, and the night-time routine is good for the soul.” – Mary Butterfield

“In a world of connectivity and demands from every angle, commit to unplugging as a family at least an hour a day, a day a week, and a week a year. I started following that routine (imperfectly) last year and it was a game changer.”  – Joe Jordano, father to  twins age 10 and an 8 year old; president at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan


“I make a point to have healthy snacks available. Cut-up veggies, fruit, cheese sticks, and yogurt are always on hand. I keep them at kid eye-level in the pantry and refrigerator so they can’t tell me they ‘didn’t see it.’ That’s key!” – Dr. Hillary Hushower, D.C., mom to kids ages 7, 12, and 17; owner of Rangeline Chiropractic in Carmel and Zionsville,  Indiana, and owner of HHJ Consulting

“Keeping a stocked basket of snacks in the car is a must for when time is tight picking up from school and shuttling the kids to after-school activities. It staves off hangry attacks and we can stay on schedule by not having to stop for food.”  – Kacie Trexler

“I try to make a monthly dinner meal plan. I set the menu with slight variations for each month to eliminate decision fatigue and the variations add diversity to the menu. Example: Monday: Pasta+Roasted Veggie; Tuesday: Tacos; Wednesday: Sheet Pan Recipe; Thursday: Something on the grill (burgers, chicken, steak) or something in the Instapot; Friday: Order pizza or make our own!” – Carmy Mincey

“Grocery delivery is a life saver. We pay an annual fee for unlimited deliveries so I never stress about whether it’s worth it to make an order or not. We need bagels, peanut butter, and AA batteries? I’ll put in an order and we’ll have it in a few hours. The kids let me know when they eat the last of something and we add it to the order. It also makes meal planning super easy!” – Susan Fowler

“The struggle to make lunches every day is real! I batch-make school lunches and store them in the refrigerator for the week. Then I just throw in snacks and I am done.” –  Carmy Mincey

“There is zero shame in reaching for easy, pre-made meals, even if it’s from Costco or a meal delivery service.” – Dr. Hillary Hushower 


“The biggest, most important thing during a chaotic school year is not being afraid to ask for help. Fellow parents are always ready to lend a hand—wait with your kids for five minutes while you’re sitting in traffic, share some snacks when your car supply is empty, send over a spelling list when your child forgets theirs. It takes a village.” – Kacie Trexler

“The best thing we’ve ever done to help reduce the chaos is hiring a nanny to help us with the kids and around the house. My husband and I are both business owners, and it’s almost like we have hired another employee for both of our companies. Sometimes parents forget having help around the house and with your children is also an investment for your business/career. This mindset shift helped bring more order into our lives and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.” – Elizabeth Coratola, mom to kids ages 9, 6, and 2; owner of COCO The Shop in Columbus, Ohio.

“Hiring help or outsourcing has been a huge strategy for us. It all started with hiring someone to mow our lawn, then led to house cleaning, and now we have a full-time nanny. For some, this may look like drive-thru dinners a few times a week—it saves time and keeps the kitchen clean! At the end of the day, we’re the only ones that can be their parents, so we want to focus on that and anything else is probably able to be outsourced if needed. This allows us to have family time from 5-8 every evening. We cook dinner, do homework, and play together and we try really hard to not let anything interfere with those hours.” – Susan Fowler


“I try to plan a few fun things the first week the kids go back to school, like late-evening swimming or snow cones after dinner so they have something to look forward to and it doesn’t feel like summer has come to a complete stop. It helps our whole family ease into the schedule changes.” – Jenny Allen, mom to kids ages 11, 9, and 7; owner at Glo Boise Medspa in Boise, Idaho

“Once a month(ish) I have a late-night dinner date with my best friend. Our girl time is scheduled late on purpose, so we don’t miss out on kids’ activities and bedtime—or cancel because something kid-related came up. With the kids asleep before we go out, we can take a deep breath, relax, and truly enjoy ourselves.” – Mary Butterfield

“The number one thing I’ve learned over almost 10 years of parenting is to choose your battles, and give yourself grace along the way. You can’t do it all, nor can you put that pressure and expectation on yourself or you will just set yourself up for failure in one aspect or another. If packing their lunches every day is stressing you out, let them buy their lunch and let go of the all-organic-everything mindset a bit. If having them play several sports is too much, have them pick one sport per season, or arrange some sort of car pool with another parent on the team! Pinpoint the things that are bringing chaos and stress into your life, and figure out ways to do them more efficiently.” – Elizabeth Coratola

Sweet E’s Children’s Boutique appears in The Scout Guide Chattanooga. Hydrate IV Bar appears in The Scout Guide Scottsdale & Phoenix. MomBrain appears in The Scout Guide Austin. Armaloo appears in The Scout Guide Williamsburg & The Chesapeake Bay. Father Gabriel Richard High School will appear in The Scout Guide Ann Arbor. Rangeline Chiropractic appears in The Scout Guide Hamilton County. COCO The Shop appears in The Scout Guide Columbus. Glo Boise Medspa appears in The Scout Guide Boise–The Treasure Valley