Hey, friends! I’m so excited to be back with the second installment in the “Back to Basics” series that I’m doing with some sweet blogging friends. No clue what I’m talking about? I’m teaming up with a group of other bloggers each month to share some simple, actionable tips on some things around the house. Last month, we chatted about summer tablescapes and I shared a really simple outdoor table setting that has been my go-to all summer long. This month, we’re talking about back to school organization – how to prepare, how to get organized, and how to stay organized throughout the school year. This is the first time in my adult life that “back to school” doesn’t mean “back to work” for me, but Jackson is heading into his first year of preschool so we’re still feeling the back to school excitement in our house! It can be overwhelming to go from relaxing, carefree summer days to the rush-rush-rush of the school year, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. I’ve got 9 super simple ways you can keep your family organized this school year and make back to school a breeze.
This is the first time in my adult life that “back to school” doesn’t mean “back to work” for me, but Jackson is heading into his first year of preschool so we’re still feeling the back to school excitement in our house! It can be overwhelming to go from relaxing, carefree summer days to the rush-rush-rush of the school year, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. I’ve got 9 super simple ways you can keep your family organized this school year and make back to school a breeze.
9 Back to School Organization Tips
- Create a family command center to keep everyone organized. We just did this in our house, and it’s such a lifesaver. Ours is pretty simple compared to some of the super elaborate ones out there, but the basic idea is the same. Dedicate a spot in your house (it’s ideal if it’s an open wall) where you can put a big family calendar, baskets for important papers, a dry erase board for notes, etc. Go back and read my post about our family command center if you want even more tips about how to make sure to make one that works for your family and your specific needs.
- Designate a basket for library books. This is a simple tip but it took me entirely too long to figure out on my own, so I’m sharing it with you. Have a small basket in your child’s room that is for library books only. You can get cutesy and label it or you can just pick a basket and call it the library basket. Jackson is only three and he’s able to keep up with this system with only minimal reminders – all of his normal books go on the shelves, and library books always stay in the basket. It means that when library day rolls around we don’t have to worry about spending forever hunting books down (we endured a late fee or two before we figured this system out!) and I never have to stress about a lost book. It also means Jackson is more likely to read his library books more frequently, because they’re super easy for him to access!
- Have a “drop zone” for all the important papers – and make sure the whole family knows where it is. I don’t know about you, but without a designated drop zone in our house, every paper that enters the house ends up on the kitchen counter and subsequently either gets lost or floats around the house for a month until I get around to dealing with it. It’s vital for us to have a system to actually keep our papers organized and to help me stay on top of it – now that I have my command center, our drop zone is the basket next to my desk. Papers still generally land on the counter when they first come in the house, but countertop clutter drives me nuts so when I’m cleaning the kitchen I just quickly sort trash versus the things I need to deal with, and anything that needs to be saved gets plopped in the basket by my desk.
- Prep meals a week at a time. This is my favorite trick ever for staying on top of things during the school year. Every Sunday afternoon, I spend an hour or so preparing Jackson’s lunches for the entire week – I roast some veggies, cut some fruit, package it all up, and toss it in the fridge. Then, each day we just grab a lunch and go. I can do a whole post on my system if anyone is interested, but it makes weekday mornings so much simpler and it makes lunch prep so easy.
- Decide on a morning routine, and stick to it. I’m a creature of habit – I am much happier and more organized when I have a systematic routine that I do every day. Maybe I’m neurotic, but during the school year, I often have things down to the minute. I don’t necessarily plan this out formally, but basically, in the first couple of weeks of the school year I pay attention to the natural rhythm of how our mornings go, and over time I continue doing those same things until it becomes a science. I’m always looking for ways to make things more streamlined and tweaking to make it simpler, but in general, we do the exact same thing, every single morning, all year long.
- Set out clothes the night before. I know, it’s an obvious tip but I feel like people often underestimate how much of a difference this makes! Some people use hanging closet baskets to set out clothes for an entire week, but we generally just take it one day at a time. I also try to let Jackson have some input with the clothes we’re laying out for him, because he’s a choosy little thing and if I don’t give him some control our entire morning will come to a standstill.
- Have a checklist for your kiddo. This is something I am considering implementing this year for those mornings when Jackson is moving slowly. Kids love structure and if you’re struggling with a slow morning routine a checklist might make a world of difference. You can use pictures for non-readers, but if you include the basics like getting dressed, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, etc. you may just find that your kid becomes a lot more independent!
- Make a “snack basket” in the pantry and in the fridge for easy preparation. We have a little basket in our pantry that’s designated for all of Jackson’s snacks, and we’ve also dedicated an entire drawer in the fridge to his fruit, yogurt, and other snacks. It makes snack prep for school a lot easier, and it means that when snack time rolls around at home I don’t have to do anything – Jackson knows exactly where his snacks are and generally speaking I let him have one “pantry snack” and one “fridge snack” a day. It’s a simple system, but it works wonders!
- Use labels! Schools like labels. As a former teacher, I can tell you that your children’s teachers will appreciate it more than you even know if you’ll just go ahead and label basically everything you send to school with them. Names in the jackets, in the backpack, on the water bottle, the whole shebang. It makes the teacher’s life easier and it makes it less likely that you’ll end up losing everything you send to school. These labels are my absolute favorite for things like lunch boxes, water bottles, and anything else you can stick a label on. They last all year long, even with regular trips through the dishwasher!
Do you have a kid going back to school this year? Maybe for the first time? Part of me is nervous about sending Jackson to preschool, but he’s been in daycare most of his life and he’ll actually be gone even less than I’m used to (he’s going three days a week, and it’s 5 hours a day), so it shouldn’t be too bad! What are your best back to school organization tips?
If you want even more tips, be sure to check out all of the back to school organization posts from the other bloggers that are participating! There’s a pretty wide range of topics being covered this month, so it’s a ton of great information!