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Lifestyle Blogger, Ex-Demarest Native Doles Out De-Stressing School Tips

Tonia Steck of
Tonia Steck of Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Prakas

DEMAREST, N.J. -- 'Tis the season for back to school and no doubt you're stressing over what you have (or haven't) done yet.

The key to keeping it all together, according to Lifestyle Blogger Tonia Steck of and a former Demarest resident, is organization. What follows are her top 10 tips for an easy transition from summer mode to new school year.

Create a calendar in your kitchen. Hang a desk or wall calendar in a place everyone can see so that you can fill in important school assignments, doctor’s appointments, days off, etc.

Make a spreadsheet of children’s activities. As school starts, so does the planning for what after school activities the new year will bring. By creating a spreadsheet with the days of the week on top and the children’s names on the left side you can fill in activities as they start to take shape. When you are done, print a copy and hang it in your kitchen, whether inside a cabinet or near the above calendar. You’ll now have two easy to view places to see where your kids need to be and when.

Label, Label, Label! After you’ve bought all those great back to school duds, make sure you don’t lose them! Choose a company like Mabel’s Labels that offers easy-to-apply labels. For backpacks, I even love the monogramed offerings from Lands End or Pottery Barn.

Pack smart. If you need to pack a lunch, the best “lunch box” is from Pack-It. Pop them in the freezer the night before, won’t need to be refrigerated and stay cold all day! They are available on Make sure you put a label inside! I've had my kids leave theirs at school or in taxis and we always seem to get them back.

Get the right school supplies . Every school has different requirements around notebooks and binders. I like to buy multi-subject binders and put in tabs for each subject. Alternatively, you can buy a folder per subject for older kids. It's also important to have highlighters and note cards around for studying. I have found that using note cards or flash cards are the most effective method for test prep for my kids.

Organize your child’s closet. Help your kids get dressed without stress so they can easily find what they need. If they don’t wear a uniform, create a few “go to” outfits for them and make sure they can find the right clothes for their school day.

Schedule play dates! To get your child back into the school groove, reach out to a few moms from their new class and get the kids together before school starts. This will make the transition a lot easier. The moms of course can hang out too!

Have a family meeting. Talk to your kids what they are looking forward to and what they are worried about for the coming school year. Get ahead of any concerns they may have and make sure they know what you expect of them. If you need them awake at a certain time so that you aren’t late for work (or your Pilates class), hold them accountable! Kids thrive with discipline and organization.

Start bedtime earlier! I put my kids to bed a little bit earlier the nights leading up to the first day of school to ease the transition from lazy summer sleep habits. You’ll hear some grumbling, but this will make everyone’s lives easier when the first day comes.

Take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine and kiss your kids. There’s an age old adage that with kids, “the days are long but the years are short”. Make it a great and memorable one!

For more on Steck, visit: .

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