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Many families are preparing for the upcoming school year and looking for new ways to save time and cut expenses.  Some families have already gotten back into their school routine but are ironing out new schedules and activities this year.

Authors Evelyn Sacks and Robyn Spizman released their book, “Eat, Nap, Play” (HCI Books) to assists families with tips and helpful advice on how to get even more out of your child’s day for less.  The book’s title was  intentionally labeled to sound similar to the blockbuster movie, “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts.  The popular movie overall theme is about finding balance.  “Our book is really about the same thing — balance between you and your child, between you and your budget, between you and your lifestyle,” says Sacks.

Here’s 4 helpful tips from the book’s chapter entitled, “Super School Savings” for parents to make the school year less stressful from the authors.

  • Get a handle on after-school activities: Kids may do better, the authors write, if they’re not “caught up in rushing from activity to activity, filling up on fast food and changing from softball uniform to skating skirt in the car.” Before parents sign up for every activity available, the authors recommend asking several questions, such as “Has your child shown interest in the activity beyond the fact that a friend is doing it?” and “How much total time is required and is this acceptable?” To keep costs down, set an activities budget for each child. Or try do-it-yourself activities like “Crafty Wednesdays” (surprise kids with a craft project each week) or Our Town (field trips in your area).
  • Make a homework box: On the table or desk where your children do their homework, create a box for each student. Stock it with everything needed for a successful homework session — pencils, paper, erasers, maybe even snacks. “There’s something about school supplies that are fun for most people,” said Sacks. “It’s a little leg up on a homework assignment. I think it helps kids get focused and feel proprietary about that assignment.” The authors suggest letting younger kids decorate and personalize the box.
  • Give kids responsibilities: Sacks and Spizman believe that by age 8, kids should be able to set and wake up to an alarm clock. They also can help out around the house — fill and empty the dishwasher, water the plants and bring in the mail. Help them learn time management by giving them a calendar to use. (For downloadable calendars, they suggest, and
  • Reassess throughout the year: A few times during the year, maybe when report cards come out, hold a family meeting. “How’s the school year going, people?” Sacks suggests asking. She said parents can even start by saying how they’re contributing. For instance, a dad could say, “I’m working on not being late picking you up from activities.” Sacks said she believes it’s fair to ask the children what they can do to make the whole school scene go better.