I LOVE summer and all the freedom (and ice cream) it offers, but I am the first to admit…by the end of August, I am DEFINITELY ready to put an end to my kids’ late nights, terrible eating, and general chaos our summers devolve in to. Routines calm me. Yes, Shana…roll those eyes and give me a big “not-even-trying-to-disguise-it-sigh-of-disgust”, but you KNOW there’s something to all of of my “madness”. Routines can be very helpful (especially for my kids), so I use a lot of tools to try and make the transition to the school year routines go a little bit smoother for ALL of us (me included)…or at least tools to decrease the intensity of some of the back-to-school battles.
Mom’s Back-To-School Organization Tools
1. Checklists for Routines: Homework & More
Don’t get me started on the benefits of routines. I LOVE a good routine and I LOVE a good checklist to go with it! We have quite a few checklists at the beginning of every school year and not just for homework–we have them for morning routine, afternoon routine and bedtime routine too. We use a very simple typed or handwritten list (nothing even remotely Pinterest-worthy), a magnetic surface, and these wonderful round magnets that the kids use to “check things off” when tasks are completed. Giving them a gentle reminder to check their routine list is SO much easier than constantly barking out tasks.
2. A System For All The Papers…Soooo Many Papers!
We HAVE to have a system for the ALL the papers that come home from school or we would absolutely drown! Instead of a bulletin board, we have six clipboards hung on the wall. The school calendar, weekly dinner menu, important forms, and other resources that need to be easily accessed (taken on and off the wall) go on these. We also have individually labeled bins for each family member for all other papers. The 1st of every month is recycling time and the bins have to be sorted.
3. School Supplies Ordered Online
This is a no-brainer for us. Our big-box stores never seem to have all the stuff we need, and it drives me batty searching multiple stores. I found almost every single thing on our list at Target.com. Done.
4. A Stand-Out Backpack
Having backpacks that stand out makes it SO much easier to spot your kiddos quickly in the crowded pick-up line. Also obviously easier for them to spot their OWN backpack in the piles on the playground. Check out our full round-up of cute and cool backpacks here.
5. Easy-To-Wash Lunch System
This is the dishwasher safe lunch system we have used and loved for years. I have 2 full sets for each kid so I can rotate them nightly in the dishwasher. We loved this smaller Bentgo for pre-school, but I can fit larger quantities of food in the Bentology system above.
6. No-Leak Water Bottles
I am FOREVER searching for the perfect kid water bottle. My requirements are: dishwasher-friendly, lightweight, no chance of opening accidentally in their backpack, won’t flood their desk if accidentally knocked over while open…. The one above is the one we’re trying this year.
7. A Pencil Case They Can Actually Find
I’ve learned the hard way that if they can’t find their pencil case in their backpack, they’re not going to use it and all their supplies will quickly disappear. Zipit offers a ton of cute and easy-to-spot pencil cases.
8. Multiple Vessels for Mama’s Morning Coffee
An organized mama must! I have 2 Contigos and rotate them in the dishwasher on the same lunchbox washing schedule. I don’t leave the house in the morning without this guy.
9. Something Warm They Will Actually Wear
These Boden sweatshirts are the best. My kids love to wear them–lightweight enough to wear in the fall, but warm enough to take them pretty far in to winter too. There’s never any argument in putting these on, so perfect for mornings little people refuse to put on their actual “winter coat.” This coat has won many battles that this year, I may just choose not to fight.
10. Two Pairs of Sneaks: To Avoid Morning Crises
I’ve always been a one-pair-of-sneaks-per-kid kind of mom, but this year I’m changing my ways. There were way too many catastrophic mornings last school year where someone couldn’t find both shoes…even though we of course have a special place shoes are supposed to “live”. Worth the $ to me to avoid these situations, so this year they’re getting a fun pair (the star ones above are so stinking cute in person!!), as well as a more practical waterproof pair as well.
11. Bedtime Routine Helpers
Back-to-school time means back to pretty strict bedtime routines for us. Having parts of the routine that they really look forward to has helped tremendously. My boys are not big yoga or mindfulness kids, but they have REALLY taken to this essential oil diffuser and picking out their own scents each night, as well as the routine of turning on their salt lamps to start winding down and setting a different mood for bedtime.
What other tricks do you guys have for making the transition back-to-school a little smoother?