Back to school is a hectic time for children and parents. Getting everything organized, lunches planned, schedules made, and school supplies bought, back to school is a busy way to end out the summer months. But stress isn’t how you or anyone in your family should wrap up their summer, so here is how to make back to school easier on everyone in the family.
(PS – don’t have your back to school supplies bought yet? Grab the complete list of school supplies for each grade, here.)
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Instead of spending the last few days of summer pulling your hair out trying to get everything done, consider getting all things back to school prepared and ready well in advance, so you can spend every last minute soaking in summer with your family.
But, if you managed to procrastinate enough that school is already back in (or about to be) and neither you OR your kids are prepared, here are a few ways to prepare everyone for back to school and make the entire back to school transition easier.
How to make back to school easier
My very favorite way to make back to school easier on everyone isn’t so related to back to school after all… it’s by using this specific service. Since making and planning meals is something everyone has to do, and it takes up some of the most time in anyone’s day, using a meal planning service to do the work for you and provide you with meals, recipes, and a completed shopping list will allow you to have more time to spend on the tasks that really matter (getting your kids ready for back to school, spending time with your family, etc.).
But I digress…
Here are my very favorite back to school tips and tricks for moms. (Don’t see your favorite back to school idea on the list? Feel free to add it in the comments below!)
Prep a week’s worth of outfits
Nothing slows down a smooth-rolling morning like a child trying to choose what to wear for the day.
They’ll hum, they’ll haw, they’ll make up their mind then change it again. And again.
And before you know it, that child that had half an hour to spare in the mornings is now struggling to get out the door in time.
To eliminate this from happening and help everyone have a smoother morning, consider having each of your children (with your assistance if needed) prep their outfits for the week on Sunday evening.
Look at the weather for the week and plan outfits accordingly. Of course, if the weather unexpectedly changes, your child may have to choose a different outfit last minute, but this will at least cut down on the number of mornings that leave everyone feeling frustrated and stressed out.
“But, I don’t want their room to be crowded with clothes on the floor. Where should we keep the outfits?”
There are two options that are easy for kids to use that work well for keeping outfits organized, together, and out of the way.
The first one is my favorite:
You can hang one of these for each kid in their closets and place the outfit in the corresponding day’s pouch. This way in the mornings your child can grab everything out of that particular day’s slot and they have their entire outfit put together already – and it should take them no longer than 5 minutes to get dressed.
Or, the second option is also a good one –
Command hooks are a one-stop-shop for pretty much anything in your household. You can use them to hide cables and cords, hang curtain rods, hang pictures without damaging your walls, organize pot lids, hang your keys, and a whole lot more.
But, on top of all of that, command hooks can also be used to organize outfits for the week.
Just grab 7 command hooks (3M’s are the ones you want) and stick them on the inside of your child’s closet door (or, if they have bifold doors, stick them on the closet wall, or the wall of their room; wherever works the best). Then, hang each article of clothing that makes up an outfit on each hook.
Hang Monday’s outfit on Monday’s hook, Tuesday’s on Tuesday’s hook, and so on. If your kids are too young to be able to reach the top of one of these, using command hooks to organize their outfits is a better option.
Want more back to school organization tips for moms? Find the ultimate list here!
Planning school lunches can be a full-time job in and of itself… especially if you have several kids… who all have several different meals they like and dislike.
While sending sandwiches for lunch is always an easy option, if you want to send more than just sandwiches, or something other than sandwiches altogether, you’re going to want to plan the lunches in advance.
Sit down with your kids before the school year starts and brainstorm some meals (or, if you are sending sandwiches, ask them what kinds of sandwiches they like) that they can take for lunch over the school year.
Put together a list of at least 20 different lunch and you’ll never be caught wondering what to send them for lunch. (Anytime you don’t know what to make, just look at the list!)
If you’d rather have a service do this for you – one that doubles as a dinner and dessert meal planner, too, this is the meal planning service I use (it does all the work and even completes a shopping list for you!).
Create a visual routine
Having a routine, particularly a morning routine on school days, is essential to the way that mornings win your household will go.
Do you ever wonder why mornings are just so hectic? There’s a good chance all the chaos is caused by the lack of a routine- or the lack of a good routine.
Routines allow your kids to get up, get ready, and get out the door all within a timely matter, and mostly independently; regardless of their age.
If you have a young child who can’t read yet, using one of these will allow them to see what needs to be done – without needing to know how to read!
If you need to change the routine up from time to time, or you want them to do something different one morning, add it to the routine, and even if they can’t read, they’ll know what it means. 🙂 (See how it works here.)
You’ll want to get one visual routine for each of your children – this way they can keep it in their room and move things around as they complete the tasks.
Use a family command center
Even if you’re confident that using a paper clip and a thumbtack to hang your calendar on the wall with a wastebasket beneath is a “good enough” family command center…
Family command centers allow a central place for everyone in the family to get updated on events, sign forms, and write notes – all in one place.
This way if your child has a permission form from school that needs to be signed, they can place it at the command center, rather than leaving it lying around the house.
If there’s a field trip planned, it can be marked on the calendar for everyone to see (no more “You never told me we were doing this!”).
But what do you need when it comes to a command center? There are hundreds of different command center setups, and each person seems to have their own unique twist – which is great because each family’s command center is unique to them.
For the most basic family command center, here’s what you’ll want (then you can add anything else that you feel will fit the needs of your family):
A bin for each and a bin for all
Even if you don’t choose to use the family command center setup above, giving each of your children their own bin to store their shoes, backpack, coat, and anything else that they need to remember to take with them in the morning in is a great way to keep things organized.
Having a bin for each of your kids (and having them USE IT) eliminates those hectic mornings when your child is supposed to be leaving for school but you’re all running around the house looking for their shoe.
Not anymore! Now they can put their shoes (both of them) in their bin along with their school backpack and anything else essential that they need to remember; then they simply grab everything out of their bin on the way out the door.
Create a homework station
A homework station is one of my very favorite school organization ideas.
Homework stations hold everything your child needs to do their homework, so they don’t spend half the time walking around the house looking for a pair of scissors, a marker, or their Ticonderoga pencils.
You can make a mobile homework station or a non-mobile homework station, but unless you have a strict rule that homework can only be done at one particular place in the house, I recommend the mobile station. This way if your child is working on their homework at the kitchen table, they can bring their mobile homework station with them. Or, if they’re working in their room or at a desk they can still have everything they need right by their side.
Here’s what you’ll want to include in your homework station (of course, the things you include in your children’s homework station will vary depending on the age of your kids. Pick and choose the things that fit their needs from the following list):
- A rolling cart (if you are opting for the mobile option)
- Drawer organizers to sit on the cart
- Clear jars to hold pencils, pens, and pencil crayons
- Pencil crayons
- Pencil sharpener
- #2 pencils
- Glue stick & clear glue
- Watercolor paints
- Construction paper
- Composition notebooks
- Whatever else your kids need for doing their homework
Now to keep the homework station neat, tidy, and organized, make sure your kids know that as soon as they’re done using something from the station, they have to put it back where it belongs before they can leave the station.
Another tip to help your kids get their homework done is having a no-screen rule in place.
Search your house for school supplies
When it comes to back to school shopping, it isn’t just your kids who are excited. With all the cool, crafty and pretty back to school advertisements and sales happening, it can be tempting to go out and buy everything your kids need for back to school (and everything you need for an at-home spa day to finally relax after your kids are back in school).
BUT, before you do that, you’ll want to search your house high and low for the things on your back to school list, to save a penny or two.
You may have over-stock leftover from last year’s back to school shopping list, or maybe you have stuff packed away in the office that your kids could use for the school year that you completely forgot about.
Grab your back to school supplies list and shop your house before going to the store.
Prepare breastfasts that are good for on-the-go
Despite your best efforts, the outfit organizers, the outfit organizers, with everything they need for the school day, and the fact that you programmed the coffee maker the night before, there are still going to be some mornings when things just don’t run so smoothly.
Those are the mornings that having some breakfasts that can be eaten on the go is a good idea, this way you can focus on getting everyone ready and out the door, grab the bag full of breakfasts on the go, and everyone can eat on their way to school.
It’s a good idea to premake at least 2 different breakfast on the go options on Sunday and store them until you need them during the week.
Prepare snacks on Sunday
Again, preparing snacks that your kids will want in their lunches on Sunday – or at least in the evening on school days – is a great way to save time in the morning.
Wash, any fruit and vegetables your kids will take along in their lunches, pack them in portion-sized baggies (I use these ones), then place them all in one spot in the fridge.
This way each kid can grab the snack they want to add to their lunch in the morning, and they can have a snack when they get home from school in the afternoon.
Using one of these helps keep the snacks together and from getting lost in your fridge.
Take first-day pictures
Back to school wouldn’t be back to school if you didn’t have your first-day-of-school pictures of each of your kids!
You can use these to keep track of each of your children’s current interests, what they want to be when they grow up, what grade they’re in, their favorite subject, etc. It’s a great keepsake to look back on. 🙂
Chalkboard by the door
Installing (or using these 3M strips) a small chalkboard by the door is a good way to help you remember everything you need when you’re in a rush.
If you need to remember to bring something with you, quickly write it down on the chalkboard, that way just before you walk out the door you’ll see the note and be reminded of what you need to bring with you.
You could use a whiteboard or a simple notebook, but in my opinion, this small chalkboard looks the best.
Purge the closet
Have you ever noticed that the more clothes you have, the harder it is to choose what to wear? Likely, you end sifting through all your clothes and wearing the same 10 outfits regardless of how many clothes you have.
The same is true for your kids. They will all each have their favorite few outfits, and will likely have dozens of articles of clothing that they never wear.
Sifting through clothes can be overwhelming and makes choosing the right outfit a lot more time consuming than it needs to be, so do yourself and your kids a favor and purge their closets before the school year starts.
Get rid of anything they don’t wear, don’t like, or doesn’t fit them. These clothes are just taking up unnecessary space and making your children have a harder time choosing what they want to wear.
If you want more things to declutter after you’ve conquered the closets, grab a free room-by-room decluttering checklist to purge your entire house, below!
Make one on one time a priority
When back to school starts, your children go from spending their days as a family to spending their days at school, and when they get home from school they have homework and chores to do, then before you know it it’s time to get ready for bed.
Stay connected with your kids by making one on one time with each of them a priority. This could mean spending 5 uninterrupted minutes when they get home from school with each of them, one at a time, asking about their day, and talking about what they’ve learned.
Or you could make a habit out of helping each of your children with one of their chores, and using that time to talk and spend time with them.
Find something positive out of each day
Make a habit out of everyone finding something positive and good that happened to them during the day, each day, and talk about it as a family. At the dinner table, have each member of your family take turns talking about something positive that happened to them that day.
There will come some days when your kids will come home from school feeling worn out and beat down, and those are the days that it is ESPECIALLY important to help them find something positive that happened to them and talk about it.
Finally, we wrap up this how to make school easier post with one final tip.
If your kids struggle to get things done in a timely matter, getting timers for each child will help them learn good time management.
Kids particularly love these timers because they offer a visual timeline, showing them how much time they have left which will encourage them to get their tasks done faster.
Back to school is a busy time for parents and children alike, try to make the most of it by being prepared, being organized, and having everything ready to go well in advance. Rather than leaving things for the last minute, slowly get your kids ready for back to school over the summer months, that way you can really enjoy every last minute of summer without having to worry and stress about the school year ahead.
Which of these back to school tips for parents is your favorite? Do you have a favorite tip that didn’t make the list? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below. 🙂
Related articles you may like:
Back to School Supply List by Grade (everything your child needs from K – G 12)
9 Back to School Organization Tips for Moms
10 Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping