Kids at school

Back to School Survival Tips

It’s that time again. The sun is setting earlier, September is fast approaching and the back-to-school jitters are creeping in. We know that the stationery store chaos, grocery store dash for lunches and snacks and organizing pick-up and drop-off while balancing your work schedule can be overwhelming, to say the least. For a single mom, these tasks can be even harder to balance, not to mention the costs that can accumulate. We asked Jenn Bateman, our Single Mothers’ Support Services Manager and mother of three, for her tips for making back-to-school a little less daunting. Here’s what she shared: 

Get Support for Supplies 

If the cost of school supplies is too much, use some local resources to get what your child will need. Your child’s school may be able to help as they often have donated supplies. Places like Neighbourhood Houses and community agencies also sometimes have access to school supply donations, so ask around to see what’s available. Also don’t forget about dollar stores and shop flyers for places like Walmart and Staples for who has the best deals. Consider talking with your child’s teacher about any more expensive items (like scientific calculators) that are available to borrow instead of having to buy them. Facebook Marketplace or Buy Nothing groups are also great for supplies and back-to-school clothes!   

Snack Sharing 

Often times buying in bulk is more economical but can be impractical for smaller families who might not need 40 packages of goldfish or fruit snacks. Consider teaming up with a friend who might want to split the cost of bulk snack supplies. Also, look to places that sell bulk items (like Bulk Barn) to get what you need as they will be going right into reusable snack containers anyway. 

Keep a Visual Calendar 

Nowadays most of us keep our calendars on our phones, but often a visual calendar can be a support for kids to understand what they have going on. Use a free calendar template and print a month at a time - then add in school days, special events, appointments, after-school care, lessons or activities in one place. Put it on your fridge, keep it up to date, and let kids cross off the day before bed so they know what’s coming up. It’s a helpful reminder for both mom and kids to know what’s ahead, especially as new routines get started. 

Plan NOTHING the First Weekend School Starts 

A new routine can be really exhausting. Learning new rhythms, being organized and on schedule can be a big adjustment for kids and moms. Everyone will likely be tired, so plan ahead to do something easy you and the kids will enjoy. Get a frozen pizza or snuggle up and watch a movie. Take the pressure off and give time for everyone to just adjust. 


A new routine is never smooth sailing, but we hope these tips are helpful to start you and your kid/s off in a positive way for this school term. We also know that finding support from other single moms can be really helpful to exchange tips, ideas for entertaining and teaching your kids or simply for a listening ear. YWCA Metro Vancouver offers free Single Mothers' Support Groups throughout Metro Vancouver, with weekly meetings for peer support and a sense of community. We have annual holiday dinners and activities throughout the year for moms and their kids to meet and share food, fun and advice. If you’re interested in joining a Single Mothers' Support Group, check out