I found this AWESOME back-to-school advice on The Mother's site. And she should know. She's a mother with 4 boys- and she's also a doctor. In other words, don't mess with her.
The Mother's 12 Step, Back-to-School Program.
Step #1: Refill the kid’s lunch money account online at least a week ahead. That way, you can shove the little angels out the door without hunting down spare change or playing lunchbox roulette.
#2: Prepare the child’s necessary school supplies three weeks in advance. Nowadays most schools have packet lists on the internet, and a whole lot of grocery stores sell them in those packets. Buy them prepackaged. It’s worth the extra buck, because the guys who do the prepackaging have bought out all the orange folders in town, and the English teacher only wants orange folders, and you do NOT want to have to go to the next county to get a damn orange folder. Don’t wait, though, or the little packets will be extinct.
#3: High school kids NEVER get a list in advance. They get a list from each teacher on the first day, prompting the Mad, Mad, Mad World remake at the local office supply store. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS. Go ahead of time. Buy a $100 gift card. Give it to high schooler. Have him call you for a ride when he’s done. There’s always a Starbucks nearby.
#4: Make friends with the Amazon team. Kids always come home with a list of the books they’ll need to get for the year. They never remember to give it to you. You will then be regaled five times a year with a “last minute request.” The book will be sold out in every bookstore in the tri-county area. Steal the list from the child’s backpack on the way in the door. Go directly to Amazon. Do NOT pass go. Type in each book, and click “buy it now.” Then, when they arrive in two days , HIDE THEM until they are needed– trust me on this one.
#5: Plan take out for the first night. Stock up on advil, and buy one of those hand splints in advance, because the cramping from filling out the forms will leave you in agony for days. If you have more than one child going to the same school, get one of your kids to rig up a scanner. Or borrow a photocopier. Extra points if you are ambidextrous. Extra, extra bonus points if you make your high schooler fill them out himself and just sign. Post all emergency numbers on the white board in the kitchen and hand them all sharpies.
#6: Make sure you have money in your checkbook. It’s someone’s conspiracy that schools generally start at the end of the month, when everyone is low on funds. Then the four thousand little checks that have to be written add up–$10 for a directory, $5 for a lab manual, $15 for the debate briefs, $6 for the PTA lunch fund, … Double check your check stock, too.
#7: Do not, under any circumstances, accompany a child older than 12 into the school. They have to learn to fend for themselves sometime–Junior High seems like a good spot. Younger, if you think you can get away with it.
#8: If you do walk in with your child, leave as soon as said kid gets interested in something else. Ask any teacher–parents who hang around cause problems. Unless this is your little tyke’s first day of kindergarten, beetle out.
#9: Make transportation arrangements early. If you start driving your kids to school, they begin to expect it. Bikes, trikes, trains, buses and anyone else’s automobile are preferred.
#10: Do not allow inter-child comparison of teachers. As a mom of four, I now have three who have had many of the same teachers. They have three different takes. Squash it, fast, before poor Ms. Jones, the English teacher, gets maligned by the kid with superior math skills and NO ability to parse prose.
#11: Take advantage of the state-tax-free weekend. Take each kid out (separately). See what fits. Put that size back and buy the next size up.
#12: When the teacher asks for volunteers, RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Bonus points for getting there first. (Of course, if you hadn’t gone IN, you wouldn’t be in this position).