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Mar 08, 2024


Helpful tips to get you and your family ready for the school year ahead. Photo By: Switlana Sonyashna Photo By: Philippe Lissac Photo By: Design Pics/Design Pics CEF Photo By: Brand X Pictures Photo

Helpful tips to get you and your family ready for the school year ahead.

Photo By: Switlana Sonyashna

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Back to school season is often frenzied. After a relaxed summer, you’re thrown back into routine often with little warning (ok, well some warning). Open houses and teacher meetings, sports and after school activities, and the dreaded homework take a while to get used to. And let us not forget early wakes, packing lunches, and attempting to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. Don’t fret. There are so many tips out there and products that make the back to school rush feel just a little more calm.

Whether you purchase supplies through your school or hit the stores when supplies are released, you’ll want to buy your school supplies early — even if it still feels like summer. Most schools require specific things, so you’re better off getting them when there is still stuff in stock and then giving yourself ample time to order online whatever you can’t find in stores.

If you are a family with multiple people scheduled for multiple activities, a shared calendar is non-negotiable. It can be managed however you'd like. Some people like a written calendar in the kitchen that everyone can see, others manage via Google calendars or an app. Whatever it is, make sure that everyone is on the same page with who has to be where on what night.

It’s not enough to just have a calendar, it’s just as important to assign "who’s on first." It’s helpful to go through the calendar on Sunday nights to see what the week ahead looks like. Figure out who is driving carpool, who has work dinners or nights out, and where everyone has to be. From there, you can figure out what meals you need to plan for or where you might have time to take a breather.

Another thing to work out while you are planning your schedule? Meals. Once you see what your week looks like, you may decide to meal prep on Sunday to have a fridge full of food for the week, or it may be a week of pulling things out of the freezer. Whatever you decide, it’s helpful to have a plan going into the week so you don’t get completely derailed with fast food.

Speaking of meal planning and freezing things, these souper cubes are an absolute lifesaver. They are designed to freeze things in smaller batches that easily pop out when you are ready to use them. Freeze soups, sauces, herbs, and so much more.

We are all guilty of letting kids do homework wherever, but having a dedicated workspace for them is a good idea if you can make it work in your home. A desk, a card table, whatever you have, let it be a place with limited distraction where they can dive into the task at hand.

At the beginning or end of the month, it’s helpful to do a review of upcoming things that may have slipped off your radar. Think through any doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, any days off from school you may have missed, schedule any babysitters for date nights already on the calendar, and make arrangements for any travel days.

If your kids are of the age where they need to be carpooled everywhere or you may be outside watching sporting events, you’ll want to make sure your car is a hub filled with any supplies you may need. This could mean extra snacks and water bottles, a first aid kit, an extra sweatshirt for chilly nights, and maybe even chairs for spectator sports. May we suggest adding a mini vacuum too.

This is a simple one, but you’ll be glad you did it. Ordering labels will save you time and headaches with lost items. We suggest labeling everything from lunchboxes and backpacks to sports equipment and ballet shoes. Something is bound to get lost somewhere.

Giving your kids responsibility is a good thing. Depending on their age, you may want to create a chore chart or wheel, assign weekly chores they are responsible for, or set up an allowance system for chores. Regardless of what you choose, be consistent and choose something they’ll be able to do without much assistance.

Snacks are essential for just about every moment in kid life. The beginning of the school year is a great time to stock up on a variety of snacks — some fresh in the fridge like string cheese or balanced breaks and others that can stay in the pantry — applesauce, granola bars, chips, and trail mix. As things run out, replace them with new snacks so your kids don’t get bored.

Keeping those snacks organized is a whole other ball game. Kids have a tendency to grab what they want with no care in the world. Having bins and other containers for your snacks will help to at least try and keep things organized for grabbing on the go.

The first thing to get lost (at least in my house!) is some part of the water bottle. No matter if it’s the straw or the whole thing, we often find ourselves with some sort of water bottle situation by week two. While they are generally on sale this time of year, it makes sense to stock up on extra water bottles.

With so much carpooling, it’s easy for your car to become a disaster fast. Whether you invest in a trunk organizer for sports equipment or groceries or a backseat organizer for snacks, stuffed animals, tablets and more, these tools will make your life so much easier.

Yes, you’ll make some food and freeze it, but you’ll also want to stock the freezer with easy-to-grab meals like frozen pizzas, frozen dumplings, and other meals that will take under 30 minutes to get on the table during those hectic nights.

I always dread when my kids check things out from the library. Not because I don’t love reading, but because inevitably one or two of these books go missing. Having a designated spot for things that need to be returned to school, like library books or the class teddy bear, is a fantastic idea.

Notes are a great way to stay organized and ones with a sticky backing are even better. Stick one in your kids' cubbies to make sure they don’t forget their lunch, in the car so you don’t forget your kids, or on the fridge to remind you to grab those ingredients for dinner can be a lifesaver. These list form ones allow enough space for multiple reminders.

If you got a little lax this summer with the screen time, know you aren’t alone. If you want to make sure to set some rules into place for the school year though, you should start getting into that routine. Talk to your kids about whatever boundaries you want them to follow before it becomes a fight.

Speaking of routines that go awry in the summer, bedtime is certainly one of those. It’s easy to just go with the flow when you don’t have to set an alarm or be anywhere the next day. But proper sleep is necessary and it may take a few weeks to get into a bedtime routine. Gradually ease into it so by the time school starts, it won’t be impossible to go to sleep.

If socks never seem to make it to where they need to (i.e. bedrooms and not under the couch) it might be helpful to keep a sock bin in your laundry room or mudroom. This way, everyone can grab socks on their way out the door and not have to call a search committee to find a matching pair.

Back-to-school season often brings back the germs we so missed from school. Now is a great time to double check your medicine stock, get rid of expired bottles, stock up on the necessities, and add things like tissues or bandages that may have dwindled throughout the summer.

It’s always a good idea to do this a few times a year as kids grow so quickly, but it’s helpful to do at the beginning of the year too. Going through their closets and identifying what they’ve outgrown, ruined, or what's missing is a great thing to do before they go back to school.

The first room of the house always seems to be the hub for chaos, which makes it that much more important to make it organized. Whether you have a large space like a full mudroom or just an entryway, adding in cubbies, benches, or bins can make it feel that much more organized.

It’s hard to avoid technology these days, even in school. Instead of reminders to grab their lunch and books, it’s also a needed reminder to make sure that they charged their school tablets or their cell phones. Setting up a charging station will make it easy for them to put everything on a charger at night so it’s ready for the morning.

This product is genius especially as you are learning what’s necessary to highlight in notes and books. These erasable highlighters come in all the bright colors, but don’t keep you committed if you make a mistake.

People don’t always think of their garage as places that need to be organized, but the more you have in place, the better. When it comes to kids, organizing sports equipment is a great place to start. Carts like these are a great way to keep balls from rolling towards your cars and the dreaded "have you seen my mitt/basketball/etc question."

If you dread going through backpacks to sort through what’s important and what isn’t, this solution should be a nice addition to your routines. Establish an in and out bin. Kids can put any papers in the bin that need to be reviewed, signed, or answered. Parents go through the bin, complete the necessary tasks, and put it in the out bin so the kids can take everything back to school the next day.

Speaking of papers that need to be signed or given to the school, the start of the school year often requires dental and medical forms, permission slips, and deposits to get everything started for the year. A few weeks before school, make sure you have everything gathered and turned in so the year can get off to a smooth start.

If you don’t already have one, a bulletin board and/or a dry erase board is a great addition to any household. A bulletin board is great for holding essential information like emergency contacts or dance schedules, while a dry erase board may change more frequently with daily schedules or important reminders.

When thinking about a lunchbox, you’ll want a pick one that can help your kids stay organized and provide a great way for picky eaters to try more things. Bentgo boxes are a great pick. They come in various sizes, fun colors, and cool patterns — and best of all, they'll keep lunch organized, just like a bento box would do in a very slim manner. There are great picks for adults, too.

Not everyone is the naturally organized type, and that’s okay. It’s fine to take one or two suggestions that work in your lifestyle and it’s fine to take a break when things get really overwhelming.

If your kids love art supplies or moving things from room to room, you may want to invest in a utility cart. These tri-level carts are the perfect way to stay organized and mobile with anything you need to tote around.

You may have stocked up on everything your kid needs for the classroom, but what about at home? Now is a great time to have your kids go through their markers, crayons, and notebooks to see what they need. Toss the broken crayons and dried up markers, archive or throw out the filled notebooks, and replace what you need to.

This cool system from the Container Store will help you stay organized in an easy, adjustable way. Whatever your needs are, from dry erase boards from a place to hold supplies, this could be a great addition to a kitchen or mudroom to keep everyone on the same page.

Get your kids involved in tracking their own activities with this notebook that also gives them space to record their accomplishments and talk about their frustrations. It’s a great way to get them in the habit of organization, plus it’s a fun keepsake to look at when they’re done.

Back to school means a pile up of laundry (okay, so does the summer), so figure out a system that works. This is a good way to organize supplies, but it also helps get your kids involved with either folding or putting away the laundry.

Your summer fridge and school year fridge might look a little different. For the fall, make it easier on yourself by organizing breakfast and lunch items in a way that makes sense. Put items on lower shelves so your kids can help themselves to things like yogurt, cheese, and fresh fruit. Using bins like you would in your pantry can be a helpful way to organize.

Kids' artwork comes fast and furious when school starts, and it’s hard to keep track of it all. There are a few cool options like turning it into a photo book or hanging clothes pins so you can display and rotate out their artwork easily.

Blocking time on your calendar for everything, from getting your kids ready for school and the sports carpool to your own work, will help you stay organized. Make sure you are adding in items like working out or making time for yourself!

We talk a lot about getting organized in your house, but what about digitally? Record all of the school calendars, trash any old documents you no longer need, and start folders for important items for the new school year.

If your kids are anything like mine, they wear their shoes until they are completely ruined. They also often forget to remove any shoes that don’t fit from their cubby. Before school starts, assess the shoe situation, making sure you have a pair for gym class, an everyday pair, and if your kids need any special shoes for sports or anything else.

Once you are done focusing on the supplies they need to take to school, take inventory of your home supplies and see what crayons are broken, what markers are missing tops, and what you need to make sure your kids are successful at home!

Now is a great time of year to also stock up on items to store things. Ziploc bags are often on sale this time of year as are containers for meal prep, clothing storage, and more.

The new school year is a great time to donate. Since you’ll be going through so many clothing items and supplies, ditch the broken and ripped stuff and bag up the rest for donations.

It’s easy to get caught up in everything once back to school happens, but it’s helpful to establish some kind of check-in during the first few weeks. This can be right after school to go through homework or any papers, after dinner, or bedtime — whatever works for your family.

It’s easy to go crazy with activities, fall outdoor plans, and soaking up the last rays of sunshine, but too much fun can make things feel a little out of sorts. Make sure you are consciously saving time for lazy Sundays so your brain can stay refreshed.

Getting a lot of kid birthday party invitations? Get organized for that too. These cute labels are easy to put on a gift as you run out the door. If you have an influx of parties, it’s great to buy a few of the same gifts to have on hand.

For younger kids to gain independence, it’s helpful to start them off with a list they can execute on their own. It could be as simple as brush teeth, get dressed, go potty, and it can increase as they age.

This time of year, the emails from just about everyone come in fast and furious. It’s hard to keep track. Put them aside, then grab a cup of coffee or tea and go through them one by one.

Getting organized is only helpful when you find these things to make your life easier and not harder. If there are things on this list that won’t work for your family, don’t do them.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Simplify Your Kid’s Morning Routine for School, The Coolest Backpacks for the New School Year, 10 Cool Pencil Cases for the New School Year

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