This post is sponsored by Tangerine. All views and opinions expressed are our own.
Back to School, Already?
It’s hard to believe we’re already on the downward slope of summer. Why does summer always feel like it goes by so fast?
We love summer in the Pacific Northwest. There really is no place we’d rather be.
The rumors are true, it rains a lot over here in the winter and spring, so when the sun finally makes an appearance, it seems everyone stops what they’re doing and heads outdoors.
One of the things we love about summer is that we get to spend more time together, as a family. It seems unfathomable, but, given that our boys are now 7 and 5 years old, we may only have another 10 summers with them before they turn into emotional teenagers who want nothing to do with us.
And that might be on the generous side.
We try to maximize our summer family adventures by visiting places that don’t require a lot of travel time. We look for relatively close destinations, ideally within a few hours drive or ferry or flight, so that we can take advantage of our precious weekends.
Fortunately for us, this is easy to do from Vancouver.
Preparing for Back to School Season
With Labour Day fast approaching, we’re shifting our focus to the upcoming school year. Our oldest boy, Braydon, will be starting Grade 3. His younger brother, Connor, will be starting Grade 1.
I vividly remember Back to School season as a kid.
Although I knew that I would miss the long summer nights, I looked forward to seeing my friends again and sharing stories of our summer adventures.
I remember the nervousness, too. Will I like my new teacher? Will any of my friends be in my class? What new backpack do I want? Are these shoes cool?
As a parent, preparing for the upcoming school season can be daunting. It all happens so fast. You think you have more time, then, all of a sudden, it hits you like a freight train.
Those lazy evenings on the beach or in the backyard are quickly replaced with packing lunches, homework and racing to soccer practice. Why can’t it be summer forever?
To get ahead of things, we prefer to start our Back to School shopping in the middle August.
We would really like to avoid a repeat of that one year when we literally purchased backpacks and lunch bags the night before the first day of school. It was unnecessarily stressful.
We purchase Back to School items that can also be used for our travels.
For example, we look for school backpacks that can also function as a travel backpack. We’d rather skip the cheap superhero backpack and spend a little more for a backpack that is more durable and versatile (with lots of pockets and compartments).
When it comes to clothes, we pick-up extra clothes and set them aside.
September is a great time to buy summer clothes that are heavily discounted. We often vacation in the Caribbean and/or Mexico in the winter, so we plan ahead and purchase their vacation clothes at a time when retailers are blowing out inventory.
Not only do you save money, it reduces last-minute shopping stress before your winter vacation. This way our boys have nice new clothes to wear.
We do the same thing with school supplies.
Specifically with colour books, felt markers and coloured pencils. We buy in bulk and put aside some of these items for future trips. Our boys like to colour and draw when we’re on long flights, so it’s nice to have new supplies available at any given time.
Make every purchase count.
We are going to spend money on Back-to-School items anyways, so we prefer to use credit cards and loyalty rewards programs to maximize the power of each purchase – for school, vacations and everyday expenses.
A few weeks ago, we wrote a post that shares some of the simple things we do that allow us to travel more often. One of the things we discuss is how we take advantage of loyalty programs and credit cards.
By doing so, we’re able to maximize each purchase and get a few ‘extras’ that make travel more attainable.
Some credit cards allow you to redeem points/miles for travel, while other credit cards give you cash back. Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card has no yearly fee, and allows you to make 2% Money-Back Rewards on purchases in two categories of your choice, including: Hotel-Motel, Restaurants, Entertainment, Gas, Groceries, and even Recurring Bill Payments.
Plus, there’s 0.50% cashback on everyday purchases, making every dollar count. When you choose to get the funds deposited in your Tangerine Savings Account, you even get to choose a third 2% Money-Back category – a big plus and the best way to maximize value.
Cash back gives you lots of flexibility. It can be used for back to school items like clothes, backpacks, shoes and school supplies. Tangerine’s Money-back rewards are earned automatically and paid monthly, so every purchase you make increases your points and can be redeemed for future travel rewards.
For more credit card advice, visit Tangerine’s Forward Thinking blog.
A few tips to help with the transition
Reset your sleeping routines.
Summer has a funny way of blowing up the school sleeping routine. Bit by bit, that bedtime hour seems to get later and later. During the school season, we start the bedtime process at 7:30 PM and hope the boys are fast asleep by 8:30 PM.
If you’re like us, and you’ve let the bedtime discipline slide over the summer, it’s time for a reset. We like to start the process at least 3-4 days before school starts.
Reduce screen time.
Similar to the above point, it’s time to reset the amount of screen time. We try to eliminate ipads and video games during the school week, but this strategy is harder to execute in the summer when we’re traveling and the days are longer.
It’s very noticeable when our boys have had too much screen time. They get extra cranky and show all of the signs of an addict when we take the devices away. Not good.
Managing screen time is not easy. We want them being comfortable with devices because they will be a big part of their future, but we also understand the importance of moderation and the negative impact of too much time on the couch.
Our solution – get outside and enjoy the sun while it’s still here!
Talk to them about the upcoming school year.
Starting a new school year is a big deal. Don’t make assumptions. Ask your kids how they’re feeling. Are they scared? What is scaring them? Get them talking.
Our oldest boy loves school and has no fear about a new school year. Our youngest, however, is much more timid and cautious. He has a lot of questions.
We’ve learned to compartmentalize these questions. Instead of having a long discussion that covers every topic, we slow it down and address one thing at time. It seems to work for him.
What are your Back to School tips and tricks?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Our readers thank you.