Back-to-School Tips with St. Louis Mom


Stressing about back-to-school? St. Louis Mom has some tips for you!


It’s that time of year! It’s time to think about putting away the summer gear, get to bed a little bit earlier, get back into a routine … and go back-to-school! We polled our contributing writer team to get their tips for a smooth start to the school year. Here’s what they had to say!


a young girl and her brother, wearing big backpacks as they head back-to-school


What are your go-to weeknight dinners?


I do a combo of crockpot meals and casseroles that can also be leftovers. (Danielle, teacher, mom of 2)


Weeknight dinners vary a lot, but we plan to cook three nights, usually a fish and veggie night, taco night, and pasta night. One night is leftovers or FFY (fend for yourself) and one night is takeout. (Jennedy, school counselor, mom of 2) 


Meal plans are boring and predictable but easy to execute: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. (Amy Sanders) 


Make your own tacos, homemade pizza, quick beef & broccoli, veggie burgers with air fryer tots (Angela Baker) 


Good & Gather meatballs, cooked sauce that has puréed zucchini and squash mixed in, served with Caesar salad and garlic bread; stuffed chicken breasts from Sam’s with roasted broccoli and Bob Evans mashed potatoes; smoked sausage, steamed cabbage, and mac & cheese (Jessica Hendricks) 


Meatball sandwiches: Trader Joe’s ciabatta rolls with cheese, meatballs, and bbq sauce.
Calzones. Grands Biscuits flattened, half filled with sauce and toppings, then fold over and seal with a fork. (Katie Mueth)
Air fryer everything!  These chicken thighs are delish— I make them with boneless, skinless chicken and just adjust the cooking time.  For pork tenderloin, this recipe does not disappoint!  When I’m not air frying, these chicken burritos are super easy, and can be made ahead and wrapped in foil to bring in the car and avoid the drive-thru between karate and soccer. (Carol Kerber)
a young boy and his sister standing by the school marquee board for the first day of school

What is one thing you wish someone had told you before your child entered elementary/middle/high school?




Just one year of kindergarten done, but I wish someone would have told me that no real prep is needed and that kindergarten teachers are magic. (Jennedy) 


Get involved and meet other parents somehow— whether it’s sports, PTO, classroom volunteering … not only are the friendships invaluable, but you have an instant network to ask questions with and carpool partners! (Jessica) 


They will change so fast. Transitions are hard, but kids are resilient and it’s amazing to see how quickly they move past those difficult times. (Katie)


When your kids transition to middle school or high school, you do need to transfer responsibility and make your kids more independent. This does NOT mean, however, that parents don’t have a role. It is still perfectly acceptable to email a high school teacher with concerns or to check-in when you feel it is needed. The responsibility is on the kids, but until they are on their own, we are still their safety net. (Carol)


kids posing with backpacks for their back-to-school photos


How does your family stay organized?


We use a paper calendar in the kitchen, but most of it is shared calendars on our phones, plus CONSTANT communication about what’s coming up and who needs to be where/to take them there. (Jessica)


It’s me. I am the only reason anyone in this family knows where to be & when. (Angela) 


I use both a color-coded google calendar and a color-coded whiteboard calendar (it helps the kids to see the calendar), but I HAVE to have it all on my phone. (Amy)



We use a color-coded Google family calendar for planning. We keep a chalkboard in the kitchen that has dinners for the week and a running grocery list. (Jennedy) 


We have a monthly color-coded calendar for all life, appointment, work-related things. We also have two whiteboards on the fridge— one for dinner meal plans for the week and one for Harrison’s lunch plans for school. (Danielle) 


We use a shared calendar and lots of checklists! (Katie) 


I used to fall prey to the notion that the kids are so busy with school / homework / extracurriculars, and I would let their chores slide onto my plate. Big mistake. Most chores don’t actually take all that long, and if they are super busy, have them schedule their chores (i.e. each child has a specific night of the week when laundry is done or dishes get done immediately after dinner) so that they learn to time manage and continue to pitch in. (Carol)


My baby just started kindergarten. I took all of her clothes out of her drawers and I made outfits of all her clothes including underwear. She just has a drawer full of pre-made outfits. At night she goes in a picks her outfit for the next day. We don’t have to argue over or search for clothes in the morning! And when I do laundry, I just make new outfits. Anything that isn’t matched goes in a different drawer. (Erin Martin)


Similar to Erin’s tip above, we do an outfit pick on Sunday for the entire week! I have a labeled closet organizer with each day of the week. That way there’s no fights and he has “say” and I have approval over what he wears! (Caitlin Ladd)