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An easy back-to-school checklist for busy parents

Whether you're sad to see the last days of summer come to an end or you just can't wait to get your adorable kiddos back in the classroom (or a bit of both!), there's a lot to do before the first day of school. Stay on top of the chaos and cruise back to school with ease by following this simple checklist.

Organize paperwork: You likely get a lot of information for each school-age child. Stay organized by designating a color for each child and getting folders and sticky notes to coordinate. That way you can place all school forms and any information as they arrive in the folders so they don't get lost, plus you have a colored notepad to mark with to-do's so you stay on top of everything.

Find your Picture Day: Not sure when school pictures are scheduled? Get the answer fast and earn an A+ in planning when you use the "Find My Picture Day" tool from Lifetouch. With a few basic pieces of information, you'll learn when your child's Picture Day is so you can put it on the calendar and start preparing.

Get school supplies: Get this year's supply lists from schools and plan a time to go shopping. Some people like to price compare and find cheaper supplies online from their smartphone or computer.

Shop for new school clothes: Start by going through closets to see what is worn or too small. Then make a list of what you need, discard torn or worn items, and donate gently used items to charity. Next, plan a fun day to go shopping for new school clothes. Don't forget to include a Picture Day outfit in back-to-school shopping so there's one less thing to think about later!

Set morning and nighttime schedules: With the lazy days of summer soon coming to an end, you'll want to get kids adjusted to new schedules a few weeks early to work out any hiccups. That could mean easing into earlier bedtimes and wake-up times so once school starts everything goes smoothly.

Sync calendars: Add school calendars into your personal calendar so you know important days off and other events, such as when Picture Day is scheduled. Then, get kids ready for great smiles by reading Tips for the perfect Picture Day.

Sign up for fall activities: Ensure you get a spot in the activities and time slots of your choice by signing up for fall activities now. Whether it's sports, music lessons, robotic club or one of the myriad other options, this helps you stay organized and is one less thing to think about once school begins.

Schedule haircuts: If your kids are looking a little shaggy, call and get appointments for haircuts for the whole crew now to avoid the last-minute rush right before school starts.

Stock the fridge and pantry: Stock up on school lunch supplies and easy after-school snacks. This makes it a breeze to pack lunches every day, plus kids will have easy grab-and-go options whether they are zipping to get the bus or heading out to soccer practice.

Do a dry run: Many schools host back-to-school nights where you can visit, drop off supplies and meet the teacher. Make sure to attend if your kids have one, but if not, reach out to the school to schedule a tour, visit the classroom and walk around so students can learn where everything is — from study hall to the cafeteria. This is particularly important if your child is attending a new school this year.

Schedule talk time: Plan some fun end-of-the-summer activities to make the most of the last moments of vacation, but also plan time to have a few heart-to-heart conversations with your kids. This can be naturally peppered into activities or just whenever it feels right. Use this time to ask how they are feeling about heading back to school and if they have any questions. This is a great time to calm any worries if your child is feeling anxious.