It’s that time again! For some, the back-to-school season feels like the best time of the year. For others, it’s when routines need to change, bedtimes need to be enforced, and arguments about homework are already percolating.
We can’t control for everything, but even small changes can mean big time — and sanity — savings for everyone.
1. Make a landing zone to keep things tidy and organized.
A simple hanging file organizer is perfect for storing permission slips, school notices, or any of the other piles of paper that just seem to accumulate. Hang backpacks below it to make moving items between folders and bags a cinch.
This one from Simple Styling includes a cute stool so that your child can put stuff in the folders, too.
2. Plan outfits in advance.
Even adults can take too long picking out their clothes in the morning, so it’s hard to blame a tired kid for taking forever to decide on which socks to wear. Save time by picking them out on the weekend and organizing them by day.
3. Create a homework station so kids can focus and help is nearby.
It could be a spare desk or the dining room table, but the key is to have it away from other distractions and have supplies handy.
I love this simple solution from The Polka Dot Chair.
4. Make lunches easy with a bit of weekend prep.
Keep parent-approved snacks in easy-to-grab locations. A basket in the fridge works great for fruits and veggies. It only takes a few minutes to fill a bunch of zip-top bags, which is totally worth it for the time you’ll save while rushing around on Monday morning.
5. Clean lunchboxes and bags in the dishwasher.
Smeared jam, spilled yogurt, what you hope is chocolate pudding…you name it, your kid has spilled it in their lunch box. Luckily, most insulated bags are dishwasher safe. Just open them up and put them on the top rack.
6. Dry the lunch bags and boxes outside in the sun.
Even a freshly-washed lunch box can be smelly. Hanging them outside allows them to dry quickly, and the fresh air will disperse lingering scents.
7. Solve the problem of computer screen glare with a storage box.
Is it pretty? Nope, but if it makes the difference between getting some fresh air or being cooped up inside finishing a book report, I’ll take it.
8. Have a bin or basket dedicated to library and school books.
Don’t mix up household books with those that need to be returned to the library or classroom by a specific day. This simple project from Blue i Style adds a cute leather label to a simple wire basket.
9. Keep apple slices from turning brown with a rubber band.
Yes, the easiest way to keep an apple from browning is to not slice it, but kids are picky. If yours refuses to bite into a whole apple, slice it up and then rebuild the apple, holding it together with a strong rubber band.
10. Make your own ice packs.
Keeping lunches cold is important, but you don’t need to spend your money on store-bought, often chemical-filled ice packs. Just soak a sponge in water, put it in a zip-top bag, and freeze.
11. Or skip the ice pack and freeze a juice box instead.
Juice boxes or pouches can be safely frozen. If you’re already going to have one in there, let it double as an ice pack. It’ll save space and will have thawed in time for lunch.
12. Keep the kids on track with chore and homework boards.
I love this idea by Instructables user ecsaul23. She uses just some screws, a couple of lunch trays, and laminated stickers to let her kids choose which chores to do and earn a bit of pocket money. She even used themes for each kid, like Pokémon and Lego Ninjago.
13. Stock up on cheap school supplies in late September.
Yes, September. Back-to-school supplies are seasonal products, so just like waiting to buy winter boots after the snow melts, you’ll get the best deals when stores are trying to clear shelves after the rush is over.
14. Keep those extra supplies organized with a hanging door organizer.
Next time your kid is trying to get out of homework by saying they can’t find their pencil, just point them to this nicely labelled storage hanger.
15. Keep mornings organized with a checklist.
There are a lot of small tasks that make up a school day morning and it’s tough when the parent has to keep track of them for everyone. Instead, make a checklist for your kids to work through on their own.
I love these simple ones from Sweet Rose Studio. By laminating them, they become dry-erasable.
16. Pump them up ahead of time for fewer tears on the first day.
The end of summer vacation is never going to be easy, but by reminding them about how much fun it’ll be — and doing your best to hide your own tears — you can set them up for success from the start.