Now, it’s been a long time since I went back to school. (Don’t ask how long!) But I still remember that first day of school excitement, buying new school supplies and outfits … and my sister and I being rushed out the door that first morning.
Back to school time is always crazy – it’s unavoidable. Read on to see how you can make it easier for yourself, so you aren’t pulling your hair out and scrambling at the last minute to find juice boxes, lunch containers or extra pencils.
Organize, Organize, Organize
Start out with a clean slate and it’ll be so much easier to keep it that way. Papers will pile up, along with coats, backpacks, shoes and sweaty sports gear – but have a designated place for everything and you’ve just upped the organizational odds.
Before you buy anything new, check first to see what your kids have already. This goes for both school supplies and clothes.
Get rid of anything broken, extremely worn out, too small (unless they’re good for hand-me-downs), holey or stained beyond repair. Some time before the first day of school, wash everything that needs it.
Next make a list of exactly what it is your kids need – and do your best to stick to it. Schools sometimes provide a list of needed supplies for the year to come.
Having a defined list when you hit the stores means you’ll more likely buy only what’s on it – saving money, bonus! Or, you can wait a week and get everything once it’s marked down (#savvy).
Get a Calendar
If you haven’t already, hang a dry-erase calendar in your kitchen to keep track of everyone’s activities. I love this one because it comes in four weekly sections you can move around! When one week is done, you can erase just that section and move it to the bottom of the calendar. One with a corkboard is good for sticking on notes and reminders.
Have a different-coloured marker for each member of the family so you know who’s up to what at a glance. When you schedule piano lessons, skating practice, or get notices about field trips and bake sale days, add them to the calendar immediately.
I suggest also getting a 12-month calendar to keep track of things happening in later months and transferring them to the dry-erase calendar.
The Homework Zone
Especially as they get older and get more homework, it’s so important for kids to have their own study areas – and I’m not talking about at the dining room table (I say that to protect the sanity of parents too!)
If there’s a place in their bedroom for a desk, cool. Otherwise the family room, living room or office – ideally a room without a television – also works.
My love for pegboards knows no bounds, and that goes for over desks too. They are awesome for creating extra storage space for small items like pens, paintbrushes and pencils. You can even hang desk lamps from them! Make it kid friendly by painting it their favourite colour.
If the desk doesn’t have drawers or shelves already, a clear organizer like this one can sit on top of it. And, if you have the space, a bookcase is an excellent addition because it creates more storage – with room to grow!
Encourage your kids to take charge of keeping their homework areas neat and tidy. And get bins for the artwork, projects and report cards they bring home, one per child. This’ll cut down on clutter around the house, make schoolwork quick to find and at the end of the school year it can be sorted through to pick what gets kept and what gets recycled.
It’s kind of crazy how easily the front hall closet becomes a dumping ground for – well, everything. Here’s how I clean and organize ours. Then, voila! Room for jackets and backpacks.
Or if you have a large hallway or mudroom you could even install cubbies, with hooks for jackets, backpacks, a place for shoes, musical instruments, sports gear. If kids have a specific spot to put everything, odds are they’ll use it – and you won’t trip over their stuff by the door anymore!
A Few More Tips…
- I love hanging clothes organizers. Use them to lay out your child’s outfits for the week – one outfit per shelf. Involve your kids in the choosing or if they’re older leave the picking up to them.
- Do lunch prep a week in advance. Prepare things that will keep for a while (veggies, fruits, cheese and crackers) in individual containers or baggies so all you have to do the night before or morning of is make sandwiches.
- Keep everything close at hand and easy to find with a file system for school notes and permission slips.
What is your back to school cleaning routine? Let me know in the comments!