Start the school year on a good note with these back-to-school organization tips for moms and families! Make the transition back to school a lot smoother with these easy school organization ideas! Download the Back-to-School Organization Checklist to keep on track this school year!
Back-to-School Organization Tips for Moms
Is “back-to-school” a dreaded phrase in your house right now? With so much uncertainly when it comes to what the fall school year will look like, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. One thing is for sure, the first few weeks of school this year will not look like they have in the past.
But, whether is in person or virtual classes, the kids will be starting school in just a few short weeks! Even the start of “normal” school year brings anxiety and trepidation. There is a lot to keep track of for moms and parents. All the forms to complete, school supplies to order and important dates to keep track of can be a A LOT!
Today, I am sharing my top back-to-school organization tips for moms. These are tried and true things I do each year to keep our family organized.
1. Shop for School Supplies Early
First and foremost, you want to get your school supplies as soon as possible. This is a tip my seasoned mom friends told me about several years ago. Unfortunately, I had learned the hard way that if you want until a week or two before school starts to get school supplies, you will be driving around everywhere to get them!
Of course, there are always those last minute additions that teachers will ask the kids to get on the first days of school. So inevitably, we have to run back out for a few supplies. But, otherwise, we try to get supplies a month before school starts.
2. Invest in Lunch Box Containers
Besides school supplies, you want to make sure your kids have the right lunch box containers. School lunches are a whole other discussion and I have a post that shares Tips for Packing School Lunches.
If your kids like to have packed lunches, it is good to invest in lunch containers that can hold up all year.
3. Complete School Paperwork ASAP
Does any other parent feel like they are drowning in school paperwork every August? You would think you are registered your child for school each year given the amount of paperwork to fill out. Fortunately, our local schools rely on mostly online forms. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally forget to fill them all out.
My advice is to fill out any and all school paperwork the moment that you can. Our school sends a notice when paperwork is available online and I try to fill it out that same day. I do not want to have that chore hanging over my head the rest of summer. And I certainly do not want to miss any necessary deadlines for filing paperwork!
4. Have a Family Calendar
Another back-to-school organization tip is to set up a master calendar! If you do not already have a family calendar, make this the school year that you start one! Whether it is a dry erase board, a calendar that is electronic or a good old fashioned paper wall calendar, make sure it is in a spot that everyone can see! We use this Clipboard Calendar System and it has worked for us for several years.
Write down all important school dates and deadlines right away.
5. Keep a Light Social Calendar for the First Month
Speaking of family calendars, I have found that it is really a good idea to keep a light social calendar that first month back to school. Everyone, including parents, need time to adjust to the new schedule. So, those first few weeks should be keep pretty clear.
You might find that your kids are especially tired in the evenings–and perhaps a little cranky! They have gone from a less hurried summer, to now a fast paced school schedule. Give everyone a little grace as it takes our bodies some time to adjust to the changes!
6. Teach Kids to Empty Their Backpacks After School
As your kids get older, they typically take control of their own backpacks. Which means, when you finally do look through their backpacks you seriously question if anything is living inside them! Ha!
It is helpful to set up an after school routine that includes emptying back packs. I make sure the kids take their lunches out and put them near the sink. They also take out their homework and any paperwork that I need to review. Put them in control of this task at an early age. Even students in Kindergarten can take responsibility for emptying their own back packs.
7. Set up a Family Inbox for Paperwork
What do you do with all of the school paperwork? The kids will be coming home with a lot of forms to sign and information for you to review. Establish a “inbox” in the home for the kids to drop off all the paperwork.
This inbox system allows you the time to read the paperwork when you can. Plus, it is helps to make sure you do not miss any important information that comes home. If kids know where they should put their papers, they are more likely to give them to you (instead of leaving crumpled in their backpacks).
8. Start the Earlier Bedtime Routine a Few Weeks Before School Starts
Has your family been enjoying later bedtimes all summer? I know our family has gotten a lot more relaxed about our bedtimes. But, we can not go cold turkey back to an earlier bedtime routine. So, I like to start earlier bedtimes 1-2 weeks before the first day of school.
You can start gradual with 15 minutes each night which will probably be more well received than a 1-2 hour earlier bedtime all at once!
9. Practice a Typical School Day
It is good to get a little practice with a typical school day while you are on summer break. Maybe you will be starting a new school routine in which case it will be really important to practice what this day will look like. If you have to drive your kids to school, you might want to practice the drive at the exact time of day that you will be really driving them. This will help you realize if there are any traffic issues.
You may find out that in your school day “dry run” you run into a few logistical issues. It is a lot easier to sort out those problem areas in a practice run than during the real thing.
10. Determine When Homework Will Be Done
I thought I had a great homework system with my older two kids who had no problem getting their homework done as soon as they got home. It is sure my preferred time for homework. But, my youngest proved to me that my homework plan was not going to work for him. He liked to have his snack and decompress first before he started his homework. I get it! Who wants to do more work right after you spend all day doing work?!
Whatever time of day works best for your kids to do homework is okay as long as it is doable. There are nights (due to evening activities) where homework has to be completed by a certain time. Establish homework rules with your kids so that everyone is clear on expectations.
11. Have a Dinner Plan for School Nights
One of my top back-to-school organization tips for moms is to have a dinner plan (especially the first days back to school). The kids will certainly come home hungry and tired from school. Be sure to have a snack and dinner game plan each night. These meals do not need to be elaborate, but you want to know what the meals are ahead of time.
If you have time to meal prep on the weekends, you will save yourself so much time during the weekdays. Or even if you can throw dinner in the crock pot in the morning. Your evenings will run A LOT smoother when you have a dinner menu instead of trying to wing it each night.
12. Pick out School Outfits in the Evening
Nothing slows down a morning like time spent picking out an outfit. It is a lot easier to pick out clothing in the evening when there is less of a hurry. Take a look at the weather forecast and help the kids choose their outfits.
You could even take an extra step and pick out outfits for the entire week. It depends on each child whether they are willing to pick a week’s worth of clothing at one time. Most middle schoolers and teens do not want that level of commitment!
13. Put Kids in Control of Waking Up
Do you have the dreaded task of waking your kids up every morning? While I do not mind seeing their bleary eyed sleepy faces in the morning, I also do not like being the bearer of bad news. Get your kids an alarm clock or an Amazon Alexa (or family’s favorite) and put the kids in control of their wake up. My kids have Alexas in their rooms and we use them for several daily reminders. You can set different reminders in addition to waking up. My son used a weekly reminder for when he needs to bring his musical instrument to school and when he needs to clean his hamster’s cage.
14. Create a Homework Station
I have talked about our homework station many times because it is so helpful. Gather up the school supplies your kids need to do their homework. Put them in a caddy or divided organization so that the kids can access them when they need to.
My daughter tends to do her homework in her room, so she has a rolling art caddy with school supplies.
How to Organize School Supplies at Home
15. Stock Up on Snacks
Kids come home from school HUNGRY! Get ahead of the hungry game by being sure to have a stocked pantry. If you have the time and inclination, you can prep your own snacks. You will save money by making up your own individual snack servings.
On the other hand, there is no shame in stocking up on healthy prepackaged snacks. Not everyone has the time or desire to whip up homemade snacks. If you are a Costco member, you will appreciate this list of Healthy Costco Packaged Snack Ideas.
16. Make time for one-on-one conversations.
The first few weeks of school can be a mix of emotions. On one hand, the kids might be excited to go back and see their friends. But on the other hand, some of those social situations at school can be overwhelming. Not to mention the stress of homework and learning that comes with school.
In the busyness of the start of school, carve out a little time to talk to your kids individually. Your kids may or may not open up right away, but keeping that open dialogue helps you catch situations that might be causing stress.
I remember that last year, my son told me he found about Santa on the first day of school. Yikes! He was full of a lot of emotions about that finding.
It is important to recognize that even if kids are acting fine, there is a lot going on inside their minds. So take the time to slow down with them and give them the attention they deserve.
17. Put a Limit on Your Kids’ Activities
If there is one thing we have learned in 2020, is that it okay to slow down and not be so busy. You might have a child that thrives on being super busy. Or kids that prefer to be at home. It is a balancing act on how busy each child needs to be. But remember that the more activities you sign up for, the more running around you will be doing.
It is easy to get unorganized when you are spending your days driving your kids around from activity to activity.
18. Create a List of Lunch Ideas
Whether your kids will be going to school in person or virtually learning, you will need to consider school lunches. Come up with a list of your kids’ favorite lunch ideas and rotate through that list each week. If you need some school lunch inspiration, check out these Tips for Packing School Lunches.
Corral all of your lunch making supplies in one spot to make lunch packing a cinch.
19. Utilize a Personal Calendar
It is necessary to maintain a family calendar, but moms can stay organized with their own planner as well. Keep track of your own appointments, personal to-dos and goals with a planner. Tech savvy moms can utilize Google Calendar or the Cozi app. But, for those moms like that paper systems, invest in a nice planner.
I am so excited about this new undated planner I purchased. It combines calendar options, gratitude and list making into one journal.
20. Set Personal Goals and Establish New Routines
Back-to-school for kids also means a change in schedule for moms! The start of the school year feels like a new year (almost like January 1). It is a great time for moms to carve out some new routines and healthy habits. You could even start a self care challenge to get yourself on track!
Now is a great time to set personal goals. Decide on some things you personally want to work on during the school year. It is truly a time of new beginnings for everyone in the family!
The start of the school year can be a smooth transition. Utilize these Back-to-School Organization Tips for Moms and your family will be ready for the 1st week of school!