How to Have a Great First Day of School

The first day of school can be full of emotions.

More excitement.
Pure joy…

And that’s just the parents.

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We all want the first day of school to go well for our kids.

We want to make sure we send them off with lots of hugs and smiles and reassurance that everything will be wonderful – rather than spending the morning yelling HURRY UP or searching for a missing left shoe.

If you’re anything like me, there will be plenty of mornings like those throughout the school year – but hopefully not on the first day of school!

This year, I’m preparing for the first day of school in advance to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible, and I’m teaming up with El Monterey Frozen Mexican Foods to share my top tips so that you can do the same.

El Monterey First day of school

1. Start at least a week in advance

Preparing for the first day of school does not start on the first day of school. Or on the night before.

It really needs to start a week in advance.

If your kids are anything like mine, they’ve been staying up late and sleeping in each morning. As much as I don’t want summer to end even a minute earlier than necessary, I will be spending our last week of summer attempting to get my kids back on a regular schedule.

No more shutting down the pool or having a snack at 9 pm for us. It’s back to regular bedtimes and – I hate to say it – school day wake up times too.

The more we can get them used to a school schedule in advance, the better they’ll feel on the big day.

2. Prep the Night Before

The night before the first day of school is an important night. My kids always have a hard time falling asleep, and they need a little extra reassurance – both to calm their fears and also bring their excitement level down enough for them to fall asleep.

It’s also the one night where I do everything I possibly can to make the morning as smooth as possible. This includes packing backpacks, making sure clothes are laid out in advance, packing lunchboxes, charging my phone (or camera) and setting an alarm.

I would love to tell you that I do all of these things EVERY school night, but that just doesn’t happen as often as it should.

3. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

I wake the kids up about 30 minutes earlier than normal on the first day to make sure we have enough time to take pictures, brush teeth and manage any back-to-school drama (like my son deciding that underwear is optional or my daughter deciding that the braid I put in her hair isn’t what she really wanted.)

It also gives us a little extra time to get out the door without yelling (see #1.)

4. Eat a Hot Breakfast

With three kids and two working parents, our house can be a bit chaotic in the mornings.

I’m constantly battling my desire for my kids to have a hot breakfast that will keep them fueled until lunch time – with my lack of time to prepare a hot breakfast for them.

El Monterey Frozen Mexican Foods to the rescue!

The kids can pick their favorite El Monterey frozen breakfast burrito, pop it in the microwave and enjoy a hot breakfast just a few minutes later.

Miles fixing himself breakfast

The best part? I don’ t have to lift a finger.


Miles loves the Egg, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Cheese Burrito. Alice’s favorite is the Egg, Sausage and Cheese Burrito, and Simon thinks the Egg, Cheese and Jalapeno Burrito and  is pretty much perfect.

El Monterey Breakfast options

I just love that my kids love them – and that they are made with quality ingredients like scrambled eggs and real cheese to keep my kids full and satisfied.

5. Don’t forget those Pictures

One of my favorite parts of the first day of school is taking pictures before the kids hop on the bus. They end up being pictures that we look back on often, comparing how they’ve grown from year to year.

I usually don’t do any of the cute poses or fancy ideas that I see on Pinterest, but as they’re getting older, I can see how helpful some age and date clues in the picture would be. So this year I created some simple signs for them to hold, and we even incorporated a few props to make the pictures a little more fun.

Miles is heading to third grade.

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Alice is off to second grade.

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And wild Simon is off to Kindergarten.

El Monterey Simon

If you want to use the same signs for your first day of school pictures, you can download them here. I even created a set for the last day of school so that you can use them at the end of the year too (grab those here.)

Free Printables Final

6. Perfection Is NOT the Goal!

If you know me at all, you know that perfection does NOT exist at our house.

Not even a little bit.

Most of the time, I can’t even get my youngest to get dressed.

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And it’s possible that one of my kids got off the bus after the first day of school last year, and that’s when I realized that his shirt was on backwards.

All day.

Give Yourself a Break
If you can’t get it together to take pictures on the first day of school – or you run out of time – it’s not the end of the world. No one will know (or care) if you take those pictures on the 3rd day of school or even a month later. (I promise!)

Do What you CAN
This is just another reason why I rely on El Monterey frozen breakfast burritos  on busy school mornings.

My kids can feed themselves a hot breakast, and I don’t have to lift a finger. Even better – I know that they won’t feel hungry again until lunchtime!


Scale Back
Take a look at your own plans and expectations for the day, and see where you can scale back. Maybe you decide not to care if your son’s socks match or if your daughter’s hair rivals the art we see on Pinterest.

The most important thing in having a great first day of school is greeting the day with excitement for your kids, giving them lots of hugs, and reassuring them that they’re going to have a wonderful day.

Back to School Checklist

If you’re anything like me, and you need to put as many things in your life on autopilot as possible, here’s your checklist to follow to have a great first day of school.


El Monterey Frozen Foods

Make your mornings as easy as possible with El Montery Frozen Breakast Burritos – and feel good about what you feed your family. Learn more here.

And be sure to follow El Monterey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

This post is sponsored by El Monterey. All opinions are my own.

Free Printable Collage

About Anna Luther

Hi, my name is Anna, and I'm here to share my stories, make you laugh and help you feel better about your crazy, messy, fabulous life.