Here are a bunch of back-to-school hacks and organization tips you can try to keep up with your new schedules — from my family to yours.
1. Pack a car organizer with everything your child needs — including snacks to-go.
Fill a car organizer with everything your child may need on a busy morning.
I fill mine with an extra hairbrush, hair gel, baby wipes (for messy faces), hand sanitizer, water bottles, and grab n’ go breakfast options like protein-filled granola bars. I hang one in front of each child’s seat so they can finish grooming or eating in the car before we get to the drop-off line.
2. Stock up your freezer with family-friendly freezer meals once a month.
Commit to making 10 – 15 freezer meals once or twice per month.
You’ll keep your family fed with healthy, homemade meals without rushing through that pre-dinner hour of doom when everyone needs help, the kids are hangry, and you’re trying to do all the things while figuring out a frantic last-minute dinner plan.
3. Pack sports equipment in a trunk organizer at the start of every week.
Let’s face it, the family vehicle is more like a fully-equipped taxi. De-clutter and save yourself from a week’s worth of hunting down sports equipment by packing an organizer in your trunk every weekend before your busy weekday schedule begins.
TIP: Designate one slot to yourself and fill it with extra gym clothes to make quick workouts easier to fit into a busy day!
4. Program screen time for kids on devices before the school year starts.
Free apps like Parental Control & Kid Tracker to help regulate your kids’ screen time so you don’t have to.
Just set the controls to allow one – two hours per day (or whatever your personal preference may be), so you can ensure there’s plenty of time left for homework and family time.
5. Make a chore list with a sheet protector for a dry-erase board.
Print out this free template, or make your own and slip it into a sheet protector. Clip it to a clipboard and let your kids use a dry-erase marker to check off items once they’ve completed them.
6. Decorate old cans and use them to organize school supplies.
You can also use clean and empty cereal boxes, jars, Pringles cans, or cups.
Related: Indoor Activities for Bored Kids
7. Choose outfits for the week and store them in a closet organizer.
If your organizer has more than five pockets, store shoes for the week in the sixth.
8. Carry a kit full of school supplies in your car for any last-minute homework help.
Be prepared with a glue stick to re-adhere the photo falling off your kiddo’s science project poster board, or an extra pen to avoid frantically searching for one when your child pulls out that unsigned field trip form while sitting in the drop-off line.
Ideas for items to put in your kit:
- Pencil Sharpener
- Glue Stick
- Hand Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Non-Perishable Snacks
9. Stock up your pantry and let the kids mix and match their school lunch.
We keep three bins stocked in our pantry. One has pretzels, trail mix, and granola bar type stuff in it, another has fruit cups and applesauce, and the last one has treats.
I let the kids choose one thing from each bin to keep their lunches balanced. They get control over what they want to eat, and I only have to worry about the “main dish.”
10. Use washi tape to make bookmarks with paper clips, reinforce hole punches, and label notebooks.
You and your kids can use washi tape for so many things, not to mention the colors are fun too.
Here are some washi tape hacks you all can try:
- Use washi tape to reinforce hole punches — prevent pages from tearing out of your kids’ binders, and dress them up at the same time
- Label your different notebooks for separate subjects with washi tape
- Make fun flags into bookmarks with paper clips and washi tape — use them as bookmarks for textbooks or notebooks
11. Take pictures of art and craft creations and create a photo book.
Rather than feeling the need to keep every item, photograph your kids’ artwork to document in a Shutterfly photo book you can design and print at the end of the school year.
12. Create a mudroom drop-off point for backpacks, books, and school work.
Establish a space for your kids to put their backpacks, lunch boxes, and other school items.
13. Put the family dinner ideas on a schedule so everyone can plan accordingly.
The whole family can make plans around what is planned for dinner. Maybe your teenager hates spaghetti? They can choose that night to make plans with their friends instead of whining about the dinner choice.
14. Pick a designated spot for your ice pack collection in your freezer.
Stick a freezer-safe tupperware container in the freezer and fill it with ice packs. Your kids can easily find one to stick in their lunchbox before heading out.
15. Preemptively add emergency lunch money to your child’s school lunch account.
Everyone forgets their lunch eventually.
Instead of having to rush home to grab it, or be stuck without cash to hand them in the school drop-off line, just add $10 – $20 to their lunch account at the beginning of the school year that they can use when the inevitable happens.
16. Make early morning routines easier with a bathroom organizer.
Rather than listen to your panicked kids screaming, “Where’s my hair brush?! Did you take my hair brush?!” put everything into school supply caddies that they can keep in their rooms and grab before heading into the bathroom. No fighting. No panicking. Everything in one place. Boom.
17. Create a bin filled with back-to-school supplies to help your kids do their homework.
Just like with bathroom stuff, school supply caddies, or even old tackle boxes like the one above have also been a huge help for my kids and my sanity. When homework is done, cleanup is a cinch, and no one is ever complaining they can’t find what they need.
18. Use a large dry-erase wall calendar to keep track of family activities.
To make it your dry erase calendar to read, color code activities for each family member.
19. Make your own snack packs at home and skip buying individually packaged snacks.
The secret to making bulk buying work for lunches is to spend a few minutes portioning it out right when you get home. If you don’t do this, you’ll just create extra stress for yourself when the morning rush hits, and you’ll then wonder why you didn’t spring for the smaller baggies.
20. Put each child’s school work into a special separate bin, and sort through it at the end of the school year.
More bins! Well, this is about organization, after all. When the school year is over, sort through all the papers in your homework bin. Decide what to keep, scrapbook, or recycle.
21. Keep library books in their own designated book box.
You can go bin or tub on this one. Heck, even a handled storage basket would be pretty cute.
22. Budget an extra $75 during back-to-school shopping for a semester of self-care.
Sometimes we parents need a little extra motivation to get through the school week. Instead of feeling guilty about hitting the Starbucks drive-thru after an especially crazy morning, just start the school year by gifting yourself a $75 gift card to your favorite coffee shop. That’s enough for a guilt-free latte every Friday to celebrate the end of another busy week.
TIP: Refill the card during winter break when gift card promotions are taking place to get through the second semester.
23. Hang a wall file organizer with a slot for each family member.
When you get home from school, go through your child’s take-home folder (or ask them to do that!) and place papers in the right family member’s file. Permission slips and event flyers go in mom and dad’s slot, while homework and projects go into your child’s.
Then you can each check your file when you have a quiet moment to focus.
TIP: Keep a checkbook and pen in your file so you won’t have to hunt one down when you need it.
24. Add a homework folder to your child’s backpack for loose papers.
I loathe finding crumpled permission slips and homework at the bottom of a backpack.
Before the school year starts, stick a simple pocket folder in your child’s backpack and tell them to put any loose papers into it instead.
25. Set up a parent file organizer box to put papers you need to sign.
26. Download apps like Photomath to get your child math homework help.
Photomath is a great tool for parents who have forgotten certain math formulas. Ahem.
27. Make PB&J’s ahead of time and freeze them for later — sandwich heaven on-the-go.
28. Put a “Don’t Forget” to-do-list on your door every night so you don’t miss anything.
29. Put your kids on their new sleep schedule a week before school starts.
30. Build a homework station divider to prevent distractions.
Just pick up a tri-fold poster board for a few bucks, then brighten it up with colored paper or poster board.
Don’t Scroll Up! Here are the links I mentioned: