5 Back To School Hacks To Keep Your Family Organized This Year!

Last year was my daughter’s first year of school and I’ll admit, straight away, that I could have been more organized. There were mornings when I rushed to make lunch from ingredients I’d forgotten to pick up at the grocery store (whoops), days when her water bottle or a certain book didn’t make it into her backpack, and wintry afternoons when she had to borrow a pair of mittens from the school because, well, I forgot to send them!

We’ve all done it, right? But we all feel completely annoyed knowing that WE CAN DO BETTER! And this year? We will! Today I wanted to share the five things I’ll be doing this year to keep my family organized, on track, and happy! Let’s go!

5 Back To School Hacks

5 Back To School Hacks To Keep Your Family Organized This Year! (Finally!)

No. 1: The Landing Pad

Designate a small space in your home as a spot for ALL of the school stuff to live, next to the front door or whatever entrance makes sense. When they come home, kids can drop their backpacks, lunch bags (before they hit the kitchen), shoes, coats, or whatever right here so that YOU, mama, know exactly where it is. No chasing a line of belongings down the hall as they unravel upon entrance. I know my daughter likes to leave a trail of things behind — it’s amazing really — so I find having ONE place for all of this to go keeps it under wraps. This is also the place where all of their items will be waiting for them before they leave the house in the morning. This is especially helpful in the colder months when kids are hunting down mittens as the school bus drives by.

What about all those papers and notes that end up crammed int he bottom of a backpack… that’s what no. 2 is for! Keep reading!

No. 2: The Catch-All File

Create a file or folder (a labeled accordion file would be great for this) where ALL of the school forms, lunch notes, newsletters, permission forms — all of that — can be filed, kept track of, and handled. Get your kids to come in and stop at The Landing Pad, then take all the paper type stuff OUT of their bag, and pop it into The Catch-All File. This way you’ll know what you need to sign, read, order, etc. and you won’t have to make up reasons for why things are late, missing, or forgotten about! Win-win!

No. 3: The Nighttime Lunch Routine

I can’t stand making school lunches in the morning. My idea pre-school routine with my daughter is to wake up, get dressed, make breakfast and coffee, sit and enjoy a slow moment together, then grab her gear, and head out the door. Notice that nowhere in that routine is a 20 minute stint of throwing together a crummy sandwich, slamming some carrots into a baggy, and hoping the straw from her water bottle is clean. Because ew.

I want our mornings to be calm and pleasant so that she heads to school feeling the same way. No rush, no yelling, no OMG WE’RE LATE panic. It ruins my coffee buzz too 😉 What I like to do instead is make her lunch the night BEFORE, toss it in the fridge — along with some water so it’s nice and chilled — then add anything in the morning that needs to be heated, like a thermos of soup or pasta.

Get into the habit of making school lunches right after the kids go to bed, while you’re still in mom-mode. Then, enjoy the relaxing or working or cleaning part of your evening. (Or at least those are the things I end up doing after bedtime!) You’ll have more energy than later that night or the next morning, and it just feels SO GOOD to get it done!

If your kids are older, start teaching them to make their OWN lunches before they hit the sack. Help them to choose healthy items, of course, but let them do the grunt work.

Bonus points if you can add dinner leftovers to your child’s lunch — just pack them into snack containers and add them to their lunch bag!

No. 4: The Color-Coded Calendar Of Awesome

This one’s simple, but SO effective. Grab a BIG calendar — one with lots of space to write on each day, not one of those ones that your grandmother kept in a wooden frame when you were little — and hang it somewhere SUPER prominent in your home. Probably in the kitchen. Assign everyone in your home a color, then write in all of the dates you need to remember (soccer games, school project due dates, dance class, wine-tasting/Benedict-Cumberbatch-movie-watching-club meetings, doctors appointments) in each person’s color. Now EVERYONE will know at a glance what’s happening and when. This is also a great place to communicate with other family members instead of leaving notes all over the house or fridge that might get lost. Just write it on the calendar!

No. 5: The Lost-And-Found Deterrent

Label everything. EVERYTHING. If you think about how many items go in and out of a school on any given day, it’s really a wonder we ever see our child’s belongings ever again after the first day. Label their lunch bags, containers, thermos, and water bottle. Label their coat (hello, Sharpies!), shoes (actually!), mittens, pants, gym clothes, hats, sunglasses! Get label-happy (we LOVE Mabel’s Labels) and keep those items from disappearing into oblivion.

5 Back To School Hacks

My daughter’s first day of school last year. 

I hope some of these tips keep you (and me!) on track for the next school year! Let’s all be organized, form-signing, lunch-making, bag-packing superstars!

#highfive

Feel free to pop a pin on this post and save it to your Back to School Pinterest board. We’re here for you all year long!

Image source: Jacob Surland via photopin cc