School-age

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year ever

Head into the school year with a couple of tricks up your sleeves. Trust us: these hacks will make your life THAT much easier.

By Today's Parent

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year ever

Photo: Stocksy United

How to remove scuffs from white shoes

Those new kicks you just bought her for school? Yeah, they're all scuffed up already. To eliminate black scuff marks on the white upper part of sneaker soles, rub some toothpaste or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and put a little muscle into it. In most cases, the sneakers will look as good as new. 

girl in denim with white sneakersPhoto: iStockphoto

How to apply a Band-Aid

It turns out there’s a better way to apply a Band-Aid! Snip a slit at each end of the bandage, so when it’s wrapped around an appendage, like a finger, you can criss-cross the ends for a closer, more secure fit. 

illustrated finger with sliver on tipIllustration: Emily Beaton

Prevent cut apples from browning

You want to pack apple wedges in her lunch, but you know they’ll turn brown and gross her out (and come home uneaten). Solution: Send a wedged apple that’s been put back together and held tightly in place with an elastic band. The thick ones that hold broccoli work well. 

four apple slices on a white backgroundPhoto: iStockphoto

How to remove a splinter

You could hold your kid down to remove a sliver, but what if you didn’t have to? Clean the area, apply a baking soda and water paste, and then cover with a bandage. In a few hours, the sliver will usually have been drawn to the surface. 

illustrated finger with sliver on tipIllustration: Emily Beaton

Easily clean that disgusting lunch bag

Sure, you could wipe a gunky insulated lunch bag with a wet cloth, but it’s near impossible to remove that caked-on yogurt and hummus. Instead, try this: Open the the bag and run it through the dishwasher face down on the top rack. Let it air-dry on a rack or in the sun. It’ll look (and smell) almost new. Total game changer. 

insulated lunch bag with sandwich, carrot sticks, grapes and an applePhoto: Stocksy United

Make a soft ice pack

Keep a bunch of frozen marshmallows in a zip-top bag in the freezer to be used when your kid bonks her head or squishes a finger. Marshmallows don’t get rock-hard or ice-cold when they freeze, making them an ideal ice pack. 

illustrated girl with bag of frozen marshmallows on headIllustration: Emily Beaton

Make your own lunch box ice pack

1. Soak a standard kitchen sponge in water and place it inside a zip-top bag.

2. Leave the bag in the freezer overnight.

3. The next morning, your ice pack will be ready to go!

Bonus: When it begins to melt, the sponge retains the water and prevents leaks.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhotos: iStockphoto

Prepare breakfast ahead of time

These make-ahead recipes will have you covered when you’re in a rush and need a quick breakfast. 

Get the recipes here: 9 easy make-ahead breakfast recipes

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year ever

Stretch your shoes out

1. Have your child put on thick socks before slipping on the new pair of leather shoes.

2. Blow-dry the shoes for a couple of minutes, specifically the tight spots around the toes and heels. To help create more space, ask her to wiggle her toes as you use the dryer.

3. Keep her feet inside the shoes until they cool. Have her walk around in them in regular socks to test the comfort level and overall fit. If they’re still snug, do steps one and two again.

Get the instructions here: How to stretch out new shoes

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everIllustration: Grace Cho

Make some Magic Quinoa

Rushed mornings can be made simple with this protein-packed recipe. The quinoa cooks right in the Thermos.

Get the recipe here: Magic Quinoa

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year ever

Try a new hairdo

Need a quick hairdo for school? We have tons of easy hairstyles that will tame your little trendsetter’s hair in less than five minutes. 

Get the instructions here: 14 easy kids’ hairstyles

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Erik Putz

Detangle a knot

Follow these four steps for tangle-free hair:

1. Mix a small amount of baby oil with conditioner in the palm of your hand.

2. Using your fingers, apply mix to your child’s wet hair. Rub in thoroughly.

3. Gently comb through the tangles with a wide-toothed comb. Avoid using a brush, as the bristles can tear the hair out.

4. Using shampoo, wash out the remaining oil.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Masterfile

Have a tear-free drop-off

It can be tough to get through school drop-off without tears. Try out these tips to keep your little one from panicking.

1. Talk about school through the summer. Get your child excited about going back to class. This will help you avoid any surprises in routine; your child will be aware of what’s coming up.

2. Remain positive and smile at the drop-off. Even if you’re feeling anxious, don’t let it show. Your child will likely react if she sees you’re upset or sees your emotions change.

3. Reassure your child that you will be there when school is finished and be on time. Not having someone there at the end of the day can be very traumatic for children. You don’t want them to think they have been forgotten.

4. Once you’ve said your goodbye, make sure you leave. Don’t linger around the school. If your child catches a glimpse of you, this could be disastrous.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Stocksy

Make your own pencil case

Instead of buying your little scholar a pencil case, have her carry her supplies in this fun and easy DIY fish pouch.

Get the instructions here: No-sew pencil case

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Tony Lanz

Teach your kid to tie shoes

In just three simple steps, your little one will be able to tie his own shoes and teach others, too. 

The bunny-ears method:

1) Take the two ends of a shoelace in each hand and cross the ends over one another. Thread one end of the lace under the other and pull tight.

2) Make a generous loop with each side of the lace. The loops should resemble a pair of bunny ears.

3) Holding the loops firmly, cross them and feed one under the other. Pull tight.

Get the instructions here: Three ways to tie your shoes

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everIllustration: Alex Mathers

Treat head lice with tea tree oil

Lice happens—especially when kids head back to school. Looking for a non-insecticidal option? Cover your child’s head with a thick coat of conditioner mixed with about 10 drops of tea tree oil, and let it sit for about 20 minutes before combing out the now-smothered lice and nits.

Get the instructions here: 3 steps for treating head lice

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: iStockphoto

Put shoes on the right feet

Teach your kid this hack so she’ll always come home with her shoes on the right feet:

1. Gather white masking tape (or painters’ tape) and a black marker.

2. Cut off two strips of masking tape. Write the first few letters of her name on one piece of tape and the rest of the letters on the other.

3. Stick the first piece of tape inside the left shoe and the second piece in the right shoe. When you put the shoes side by side, it will spell her name.

Bonus: Her shoes are labelled for school!

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everIllustration: Alex Mathers

Organize school supplies

Label a door hanger to help your kids stay organized and find all the supplies they need to finish their assignments.

Get more inspiration here: A bowl full of lemons

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: A bowl full of lemons via Pinterest

Teach your kids to blow their nose

Teachers won’t have time to constantly wipe your kid’s nose. So help your little one master the skill. 

1. Familiarize her with the idea of blowing air out of her nose by getting her to move a cotton ball with only nose air (keeping her mouth closed).

2. Now she’s ready to try with a tissue. Have her gently press one nostril closed while she blows out with the other, then switch sides.

3. Have her dispose of her tissue once she’s done and wash her hands to prevent the spread of germs.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everIllustration: Grace Cho

Bento box lunch hack

All you need to do for this DIY is to add some cupcake liners to your kid’s lunch container and you’ve got yourself a bento box! Your kid’s food will never touch again.

Get more inspiration here: Bento Lunch

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Bentolunch.net via Pinterest

Treat a blister

If your child came home with a blister, these three steps will help it to heal fast:

1. If a blister is large or painful you can drain it with a straight pin that has been sterilized with rubbing alcohol. Once you’ve pierced it, gently press down on the blister so the liquid drains out of the puncture.

2. Once the blister is drained, wash the affected area gently with soap and water. Don’t remove the skin flap on the blister, as the skin helps healing and prevents infection.

3. Apply a layer of antiseptic ointment and cover with a clean bandage. Change the bandage once a day or when it gets dirty.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: iStockphoto

Clean a chalkboard so it looks brand new

If you have a messy chalkboard

First, wipe off chalk with a wet rag. Once you’re done, soak the rag in a bowl filled with Coke or Pepsi. Wipe your chalkboard using broad strokes. Let it dry. You’re done! Your chalkboard should look brand new. No rinsing required, and believe it or not, it won’t be sticky!

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: iStockphoto

Butterfly snack

Here’s a fun idea that you and your kid can try out together. After packing snacks in a Ziploc bag, your kid can decorate a clothes pin with google eyes and antennas. Then, all you have to do is just clip it in the middle of the bag for an instant butterfly.

Get more inspiration here: BakedBree

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: BakedBree via Pinterest

Keep your kid’s lunch cold

Want to know the easiest way to create an ice pack? Just freeze a juice box and place it in your kid’s lunch box. By the time he gets to school, it will be thawed and ready to drink!

Get more inspiration here: Joyfullydwell

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Joyfullydwell via Pinterest

Create a snack station

You won’t always be able to pack your kid’s lunches, so make it easy for her when it’s her turn to do it. This also makes it easier for you on those crazy mornings when you just don’t have time. Future you will thank past you. 

Get more inspiration here: Mom Always Finds Out

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Mom Always Finds Out via Pinterest

Remove permanent marker

School supplies are great, but inevitably someone uses a marker to colour on the wall. The solution? Baking soda and (non-whitening) toothpaste! Mix a small amount of baking soda with some toothpaste on a clean cloth. Rub onto stain in a circular motion. It may take some time and elbow grease, but the marks should disappear.

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: iStockphoto

Easy homemade fruit cups

Skip the store-bought fruit cups and make your own. They’re much healthier since they don’t have all the added sugar.

Get more inspiration here: Krystas Life in Food

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Krystas Life in Food via Pinterest

Get your slowpoke moving

You don’t want to be late for the first day of school! Find out how to get your little one to pick up the pace (without losing your patience): Tips to get your slowpoke moving

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: Edvard March/Corbis

School lunch planner

Now here’s a win-win situation: You won’t be worried about what to pack your kid for lunch, and your kid won’t get bored of her food. Make sure to include your kid’s’ favourite munchies when creating your menu. 

Get more inspiration here: School lunch planner

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year ever

Freeze your sandwiches

Set aside a day during the week to prep at least five sandwiches and store them all in the freezer. Sandwiches like PB&J (you can substitute peanut butter with a nut-free alternative like WOW butter) thaw out easily by the time lunch time rolls around at school. 

Get more inspiration here: My List of Lists

30 back-to-school hacks for the best year everPhoto: iStockphoto

Read more: Your ultimate back-to-school guide How to get your family organized and on a schedule—in three steps 11 ways to salvage a bad morning

This article was originally published on Aug 25, 2020
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