By Rachel Wells
Before you know it the kids will be heading back to school, the calendar will be filling up, and new schedules and routines will start. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the changes that come with a new school year, but there are some simple organizational ideas that can help you start the year off ready to go and with less stress.
Before the school year starts go through your child’s drawers and closets and remove any clothing that no longer fits. Make a list of any items your child may need for the start of the school year or for the cooler weather in the fall.
School lunch doesn’t have to be boring, and packing it doesn’t need to be stressful. Before the school year starts, create a list of 20 or so school lunch ideas together that can be rotated through each month. You can check out some ideas here. Before grocery shopping, ask your child to pick which lunch items they want from the menu you created. A sandwich is more fun to eat when it is cut into a fun shape, so simple things like picking up some cookie cutters to shape the sandwich can make lunch more exciting.
Also before the school year starts, get a pack of post-it notes to dedicate to lunch notes for your child. Write encouraging notes on each post-it while keeping the stack stuck together. Each night when you pack lunch simply take one post-it off the stack and put it in your child’s lunch box. Having pre-made notes saves you time each night and simplifies the lunch packing routine.
On Sunday, plan out all of your child’s outfits for the week. Use a fabric hanging closet organizer for easy organization. Label each shelf with the days of the week and store everything your child needs (underwear, socks, outfit, hair items or accessories, etc.) together on that days shelf.
Use either a crate with file folders or a wall mounted file/magazine organizer to keep paper clutter at bay. Assign each child their own files for important school documents, upcoming events, permission slips, reading or homework logs, and any “to do’s”. This is also a great place to create a dedicated spot for special papers that you want to save as memories of the school year.
Another way to keep track of school events, practices, or any other commitments is to use a large family calendar. Write down any important events on the calendar the day you find out about them and recycle any papers. Use black ink to write down the information and assign each family member a different colored highlighter so you can easily see whose events are whose. To help remember to check the calendar each day, hang it next to or on the door that you use when you leave the house in the morning.
No matter how organized you are, there are going to be times when your kids need breakfast on the go or a snack as soon as they sit down in the car to go home. Use a seatback organizer to store powder drink mixes, juice boxes, granola bars, crackers, or other snacks that won’t melt.
Pick up an extra zip up school supply bag when you go back to school shopping. Fill the extra bag with supplies your child may need for any last minute homework assignments, while a child is waiting for their sibling to be picked up, or when you find a last minute permission slip you forgot to sign. Include a pencil, pen, crayons or colored pencils, tape, a small stapler, and a few paper clips.
You don’t need to devote an entire day to building a stash of ready to eat freezer meals. A super easy way to build a stash of freezer meals is to double recipes (that will freeze well) each time you cook. Since you are already making the dinner there is little to no extra work to double the recipe and freeze the unused portion. After a few weeks of doing this, you can grow a pretty large stash of home cooked meals that can be quickly heated up on any night when you just don’t have the time or energy to make something new.
Get a basket to dedicate to library books. Keeping library books in one designated space will help ensure they make it back to the library by their due date.
Implementing a few of these organizational ideas can be a huge help in transitioning back into the school routine or during your after school program. Remember that kids are more likely to stick with something when they are involved in the process, so let them help you as much as possible in the process of getting organized.