New schedules and routines are part of the back-to-school package. This means waking up earlier, streamlining morning routines, planning a lunch menu, and establishing time for homework in the evenings.
Mama, this can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve identified the 6 most common issues Moms face during the back-to-school season, and teach you the best solutions to stay organized!
Problem: Backpacks being left all over the house
Solution: Backpack station
Establish a specific spot in your home that will be backpack central. This is where you kids drop their backpacks on their way in the door, and where they keep their backpacks on the weekends, and where they pick them up as they head out in the mornings. It’s a good idea to keep their lunchbox here as well – just keep the food and freezer packs elsewhere.
This eliminates the questions of, “Have you seen my backpack?” or “Do you know where my school stuff is?”
Plus, it’s easy for you to look at papers sent home, things that need to be signed, or work that you need to check.
Lunch station and perpetual calendar
Problem: you don’t know what to pack for lunch
Solution: lunch station and perpetual lunch calendar
Let me guess…you are running out of lunch ideas? Your kids aren’t eating what you pack? You’re at a loss when it comes to packing lunch boxes? #metoo
Try a lunch station. This is where you keep baskets or bins on lunch items in your fridge and pantry. For example, one bin in the fridge has fruit and another bin has refrigerated items (like applesauce or yogurt). Perhaps you have a bin in the pantry for snacks (chips, crackers, pretzels, etc.) and another one for sweets (cookies, candy, etc.) When it’s time to make lunch, have you child pick one thing from each bin: a fruit, a refrigerated item, a snack, and a treat.
What about the main lunchbox item? I’m glad you asked! Create a perpetual calendar of lunch ideas. This is a calendar that has every lunch item your child likes, and you simply rotate through it. If your list has 17 items, you make items:
- 1-5 during week 1 of the month
- 6-10 on week 2
- 11-15 on week 3
- 15-17 and 1-2 on week 4,
- then 3- 7 on the following week
Keep this posted on your fridge so you can gradually work through the list and add appropriate items to your weekly grocery list. Don’t forget to place these items in a fridge bin so you child can grab one and add it to their lunch box!
Overall, their balanced lunch will have:
- 1 main item
- 1 fruit
- 1 refrigerated item
- 1 snack
- 1 treat
Mama does the planning and shopping, but you child earns the independence to select which items they want each day.
Bonus: create a similar station for breakfast items to help your mornings go smoothly!
Problem: kids don’t have a designated spot for homework
Solution: homework station
Keep your family organized with a uniform homework station.
This should be where you keep a caddy, cart, or box of necessary school supplies. Try to include everything that your child could possibly need for homework, thus eliminating their unmotivated excuses about not having what they need. Include: extra pencils, pens, erasers, markers/crayons/colored pencils, glue, tape, scissors, ruler, paper clips, stapler, hole punch, extra paper, folders, etc.
Bonus: Create a private homework station that reduces distractions by using a tri-fold poster board! You can prop this up on the kitchen table, a desk, or even on the floor. This keeps distractions out of sight, and can even be a tool for clipping on a number line, alphabet strip, multiplication table, periodic table, etc.
Problem: what do I wear to school today?
Solution: outfit station
Check the weather on Sunday, and then pick out outfits with your child for every day of the week. Place these is a pile with Monday on top and Friday on bottom, or in a closet organizer, or in designated bags that you’ve labeled with the days of the week.
This is perfect for the days your child has gym class, a sports practice, picture day, or a special event. Your kid will be grateful to never again forget their gym clothes or to not have a clean outfit for sports practice!
Each day should include:
- Sweater/sweatshirt, if needed
- Socks and underwear
- Accessories: hat, gloves, scarf, hair accessories, jewelry, etc.
- Optional: gym clothes or sports clothes
Problem: it takes my child too long to get ready in the morning
Solution: bathroom station
Baskets and bins are one of the best organizing tools. You’ve already used them in your fridge and pantry for your lunch station, and you probably used them in your child’s outfit station too. Now it’s time to add them to the bathroom.
Assign each child a basket. This will have every essential item them need to prepare for a school day.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hairbrush and accessories (gel, comb, hair spray, barrettes, clips, etc.)
- Wash cloth
- Hand lotion
Optional: include a small digital timer that your child can start when they enter the bathroom and leave on the counter while they get ready. This is a great tool for helping kids be aware of deadlines and to be more efficient with their time.
File folder station
Problem: all of my kid’s school papers are unorganized.
Solution: file folder station
The school year comes with an abundance of papers. How’s a Mama to keep them organized? With a handy file folder station!
Purchase a file folder box and hanging folders for each of your children. Label one folder for this school year’s essentials, one for this school year’s memories, and one for papers to file.
For example, I have a box for my daughter Jana. There are folders labeled kindergarten essentials, first grade essentials…twelfth grade essentials.
I also have a folder for kindergarten memories, first grade memories…twelfth grade memories.
Lastly, I have a “to file” folder.
The “Essentials” folders contain health records and important documents, such as the soccer calendar or notes received from her teacher. The “Memories” folder contain the schoolwork and artwork that you want to keep for the year. At the end of each school year, you can decide which items to keep or toss.
And of course the “to file” folder is for that day when you kid brings home a book of loose papers and you don’t want to sort through it right away. Store it here so those loose papers have a home, and you can find them at a later date.
These 6 stations will help you stay organized, allow for smoother mornings, make afternoon routines easier, and homework time a breeze. Get started with these simple organization tips so you can be a supportive Mama during the back-to-school season of change!