Forget back to school struggles, save time and organize effectively with these 9 organization ideas for a smooth start to the school year!
87% of moms think back to school preparation takes too long. There’s supply lists to complete, clothing to buy, paperwork to fill out and return… it takes quite a bit of prep when all we really want to do is enjoy the last few days of summer.
With that in mind I’ve rounded up 9 areas in which you can save time and stress by streamlining the process. Whether it’s a simple routine to put in place, an area to organize, or a hack that works like a charm you’ll save time and sanity by putting these tips in place prior to the start of the school year (or, heck, even after the school year starts… it’s never too late to streamline your home life!)
As you plan out the year, don’t forget our free 17 page printable planner (we also have a printable weekly student planner too.) Add important dates, activities, routines, meal planning, and schedules so you stay organized and the week feels calm and in control.
9 Back to School Organization Tips & Ideas
With that in mind: here are 9 time-saving organization tips that will help you save time and stress for your best school year yet.
1. Create a system for papers and paperwork
School photos, schedules, artwork and more get organized for grades pre-k through 12th in this easy-to-implement filing system. Here’s how to create a school paper file box for each child so you have all your precious school memories in one organized spot.
2. Create a drop zone
Place sturdy hooks and a shoe rack near your door to create a ‘launch pad’ for the morning and a drop zone after school. Bookbags, musical instruments, shoes, and other essential supplies should live in this area for easy grab-and-go. We have a rack with our keys as well on the side wall to make it a cinch to get out the door.
TIP: If your kids keep forgetting to put on socks in the morning, keep socks in a basket near their shoes. This one tip has saved time and stress getting out the door because my kids often forget to put on socks when getting ready.
3. Set up a homework station & routine
Your homework area doesn’t need to be fancy. A quiet spot near supplies and an outlet if they are using a computer is great. Honestly, my kids usually do their homework on the kitchen island while I make dinner.
We’ve had fancier set-ups in the past (like the homeschool room below that I used with my son below during the year I homeschooled him) but it’s not necessary for just homework. If your child works best alone, then a desk in their room near an outlet works perfectly. My kids both have desks in their rooms but prefer being near me when they do homework, hence the kitchen island situation.
4. Create a morning and evening routine
Deciding ahead of time who will do the following (and at what time) will make your mornings MUCH less stressful. Whether you’re dividing these responsibilities with a spouse or assigning them to your child, knowing who’s responsible for the following is half the battle:
- waking up (do they wake up via alarm or does someone need to get them out of bed?)
- making breakfast
- packing lunch
- filling water bottles
- driving kids to school or getting them out the door to the bus stop
Part of our morning routine is brushing teeth, and that never seems to happen where it should (in the kids’ bathrooms.) Therefore, we put toothbrushes in the powder room downstairs to make sure it happens after breakfast every day.
We also have times down for when each part of the routine needs to happen. Break down when your kids need to be awake, dressed, eating breakfast, putting on shoes, etc.
Set the ‘out the door’ time for 5 minutes before they actually need to get out the door. Things always seem to pop up at the last minute so this provides a small cushion of time.
As for evening routine, knowing when homework will happen and having dinner decided ahead of time will set you up for success. Do they need to finish homework before getting screentime? Or do they get an hour to relax before homework? Do they need to finish homework before dinner? All of these factors depend on your schedule and your child’s learning style, so do your best to work with their unique personality and learning style and everyone will be so much happier.
If your child has a hard time with bedtime or remembering what they need to do to get ready, have a routine written on a whiteboard or even a post-it note so they know the steps they’re expected to follow and can work through them independently.
5. Organize Lunch Packing Supplies
We’ve found that having multiples of lunch packing supplies saves the day when items accidentally get thrown away at school or a lunchbox goes rouge and we need extras until it’s found.
These bamboo drawer dividers and lid organizer keep our lunch supplies organized. Having everything within sight and easy to access has been key to smooth, easy, and stress-free lunch packing in the morning.
I have another drawer with sandwich bags (made from recycled paper) along with our reusable sandwich and snack sized bags. It’s important to us to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and this is one small way to do so. For items that can’t be stored in reusable bags I adore my baggie holder which stores different sizes, as well as my wrap dispenser.
wrap organizer for drawer (similar)
6. Store school supplies in an easy-to-reach area
We used to have a cart that held our supplies but found it was getting in the way. When I moved everything into our organized junk drawer, not only were supplies easier to find but they are out of the way. Clear countertops mean clear mind, so having clutter tucked neatly into drawers makes all the difference.
7. Audit clothing and fall/winter gear now so you’re not caught short-handed later
And by short handed, I mean that you don’t want to find out your child has outgrown their shoes moments before they’re supposed to get on the bus, or that their jacket doesn’t fit on the first cold day. Plus, by stocking up now you can take advantage of back to school sales.
8. Label everything before school starts
While you’re at it, LABEL EVERYTHING. Every jacket, sweatshirt, water bottle, lunch box, backpack… kids often have identical pieces as their classmates or lose them around the school, so labels will save the day (and your budget.) I use a Sharpie marker on most everything but these washable labels are great for younger kids.
9. Meal Plan ahead of time for less stressful nights
Meal planning has been such a gamechanger for our family! At the beginning of the week, I write what’s for dinner on a menu board in our kitchen so we all know what to expect. I put the easiest meals on busy nights, and more involved meals on nights when I’ll have more time and energy. This has saved us money because we’re no longer ordering take-out or going out for dinner because we have to, we plan it so we go out intentionally when we want to.
Favorite Back to School Organization Essentials
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More Back To School Organization Ideas
- Healthy Breakfast Ideas (That Your Kids Will Actually Eat)
- Timesaving School Lunch Ideas & Lunchbox Hacks
- Printable Back to School Checklist
With these 9 tips for back to school organization, you’ll be organized and ready so you can truly relish the last few days of summer vacation and a less stressful fall season!