10 Quick Tips for Back to School Organization

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As promised, I have a few more back to school organization ideas to share.  My kids are only in preschool, but as a former elementary teacher I know just how quickly school papers can add up (because I know how many I used to send home, teehee!)  It can be difficult to keep track of the important papers mixed in with the art masterpieces mixed in with weekly newsletters.  Not only that, but you also have lunches, backpacks, and schedules to manage- whew!  Here’s a few organizing tips I’ve picked up over the years to keep your household running smoothly during this transition time of heading back to school.

10 Quick and Easy Organizing Ideas for Back to School

1.  Have a place for artwork.  I use handled Sterilite bins with labels (that’s a Martha Stewart chalkboard label from my previous organizing goody box— they are truly awesome!)  During the school year, we {gently} toss the kids’ artwork into their bins and when it gets full we weed it out.  I pick my favorites and place them into special boxes for the ‘best of the best’ (or hang them up for display).  Then I give the grandparents a turn.  Some art pieces are turned into wrapping paper or gift tags, and the rest?  It’s quietly recycled to turn into future art masterpieces.

Back to School Organization Ideas: kids art

2.  Create folders for important papers.  I have another handled file box for paperwork.  Since one of my children still gets special services, there’s tons of papers to keep track of in addition to the normal load.  It’s great to have folders ready to go, so when the papers start arriving they have an immediate home.  I’ve set up folders for:

  • school calendars
  • class lists
  • newsletters
  • IEP paperwork
  • copies of forms

Back to School Organization Ideas: important papers

As you can see from the above photo, my other baby (aka, my Dymo LetraTag labeler (aff link)) is never far from reach.  I would seriously marry that thing if my husband weren’t so darn cute and good at doing the dishes.

3.  Stock up on baggies, lunch containers, and thermoses.  There’s nothing like realizing you don’t have a lunch container 5 minutes before you need to run out the door!  We have extras on hand just for this situation.  I really like these rubbermaid bento-box style containers (affiliate link alert).  They are BPS free and have little compartments for a sandwich and snacks.  The kids think they are big stuff when they pull out the bento boxes.  😉  Please know I do not make fancy lunches like this one all the time.  Or, really, ever.  But once in awhile, it’s a fun surprise.  What are your favorite lunch containers?

Back to School Organization Ideas: bento boxes

4.  Menu Plan and Meal Prep.  Yeah… this is a good thing to do.  I highly recommend it.  But I’m not gonna lie– my kids are going to be in school for at least a week before I get a grip on this.

5.  Label clothing such as boots, coats, and hats with permanent clothing labels.  You can order them customized online, or Martha Stewart has these no-iron washable labels you can create on your own with just a permanent marker.  I told you her stuff was good!

Back to School Organization Ideas: washable labels for clothes

6.  Stock up on healthy snacks for school lunches and the school to home transition time.  Do you have favorite snacks to send to school, or for when your kids comes home?  My kids like freshly cut fruit, veggies and hummus, yogurt, fruit leathers from Trader Joe’s, rice cakes with almond butter, Horizon Chocolate Milk, and Pirate Booty.  I try to find those on sale throughout the year and stock up when I can find them at a good price.  What are your favorites?

7.  A place for everything, and everything in it’s place.  I think our new mini-mudroom and family command center will solve this problem.  The kids will always know where to put their shoes, backpacks, and coats– and where to find them again in the morning.

Back to School Organization Ideas: Family Command Center

8.  Sign important papers and permission slips the moment you get them, and put them right back into the backpack.  Or, if it needs to go to school on a certain day (my daughter’s preschool required a weekly Lunch Bunch form one day a week), then tack it to a bulletin board or spot that you’ll see right away every single morning.

Easy Back to School Organizing Ideas: Family Command Center

9.  Have a spot for outgoing mail.  Okay, so this isn’t totally back to school related.  But it has been such a help the past few weeks and I know it’s going to streamline papers this fall.  For years I’ve wanted a pocket near our front door for outgoing mail so I can grab it as we leave (instead of putting it in my handbag, forgetting to put it in the mailbox, driving around with it for a few days, then missing a birthday or deadline.  This happens way more often then I care to admit. Except when it came to returning Downton Abbey DVDs to Netflix. Somehow those made the mailbox in record time.)  I used one of the shagreen pouches from the Martha goodie box and added letter stickers to write a word that my Instagram friends promise does have something to do with postal mail. {I should have taken French in high school}

Easy Back to School Organizing Ideas: Mail Pocket

10.  Go ahead and grab important appointment spots now, so you won’t wait weeks.  I’ve found it’s hard to get into certain doctor’s appointments (or schedule my hair appointment for my totally naturally blonde hair which certainly does not require highlights. Lol.)  I like to grab spots during school hours those first few weeks back so I can get them out of the way, OR schedule my kids’ appointments on their off days from school right away before they get booked by others off at the same time.  I keep track of my schedule on my iPhone, which is synched with my husband’s schedule, so that’s worked well.  Except that he gets a ‘ping’ when it’s time for my yoga class (which I can’t attend) and my very important ‘Oprah is on Andy Cohen tonight!’ reminders.  HE LOVES THOSE.

Those are my ‘Making Lemonade Approved’ ten quick and easy back to school organizing tips and ideas for busy families.  None of these ideas will take longer than an hour (except maybe that mudroom thing) but all will save time and energy once school rolls back around.  If you have time to put these organization ideas in place before school starts, even better!  You shared some great ideas in the comments on my last post, I’m soaking those up as I continue to fine tune our paper management systems for a smooth school year transition.  What’s your biggest downfall when it comes to school year organization?  And biggest success?

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  1. Noooo, I am so not ready for them to go back in more ways than one (sniff), lol! Great ideas, I am going to def do a few of them! Thanks!

  2. Love all the tips! I’m learning to use my iPhone more for scheduling. With all 5 kids in school this fall, my goal is to do 90% of my blogging/writing while they’re gone. I have to set aside time to do certain tasks to make this work for me. My timer on the iPhone is such a god-send!

  3. I love the bento boxes — it will help me cut down on using ziploc baggies for sandwiches. And I love the no-iron labels. Where can I get them?

    1. Rebecca, don’t freak out but they are at STAPLES! I know! You can use your reward points (or whatever they’re called) to snag them. I love the entire line there, and since we share a love of Staples, it’s just one more reason to go there (I know I sound like a commercial but I really can’t contain my love for both Martha and Staples).

  4. Love these ideas! and LOVE those numbered bins in your mudroom. Would you mind sharing where you got them?

  5. Your back to school organization tips make me so happy! Except we have our house for sale which means no fun organizing on the wall 🙁 I love the folders – definitely doing that because I can hide it in a drawer! 🙂

  6. I am NOT ready for school to start next week:) Just the lunch-making alone has me quaking in my boots! I guess I’m not sending them with champagne and smores, that’s just a mommy snack;)


    1. Ahhhh… good times Jessica, good times. I should probably stock up on some mommy snacks, huh? Haven 2013 is too far away. 😉

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