Can you believe that back to school is already right around the corner?! This is unbelievable to me. I say it all the time, but where has the summer gone?!
For those of you who have been locked in oppressive heat for much of the summer, fall could be a welcome relief. However, I live in the North, and fall means that the dreaded winter is right around the corner. Ugh. Not a winter fan here.
The back to school frenzy doesn’t have to cost you your sanity, however. There really can be a smooth transition from summer to school year by having a few simple strategies to put in place. After all, if there is one thing I have developed as a mother of eight, it is how to come up with systems that make life easier, more efficient, and streamlined.
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Looking for some back to school organization hacks? This is the list of back to school things you’ve never thought of.
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1. Set up a meeting to strategize with your spouse about this coming school year
Talk about what didn’t work in the past, the way you would like things to work, and the things you know will become issues this school year in terms of planning and scheduling. If you co-parent with someone not living in your house, hopefully you are on terms where you can still schedule the same type of strategizing meeting. If you are not on terms with the person you co-parent with, you may want to check out my post 10 Steps to Follow When Co-Parenting is a Nightmare. There are many useful tips there to help with this stressful situation in general.
2. Develop, adjust, or find a calendar or planner system that works for you
I like using a combination between technology and old fashioned pen and paper when it comes to scheduling and calendars. I will mention that I love the Cozi app on my phone since it can be accessed either on my phone or on my computer. Both my husband and I have the app on our phone and therefore share the same calendar.
Him being able to schedule his own appointments and put them in the calendar is awesome. It has been a huge relief to me since it is just one less thing that I, as the office manager, have to take care of.
3. If you haven’t already done so, schedule sports physicals for any athletes you may have in your household
Most, if not all, schools require a sports physical with a physician.
4. Schedule family appointments for this school year for your entire family so these can be on the calendar
This way, you can wipe this annoying yet necessary thing from your mind. This would include doctors, dentists, and specialists of any kind. Getting these appointments into the schedule will allow you to more effectively see all that you have going on during the school year.
5. While you have your brain in pre-planning, pre-scheduling mode, go ahead and make appointments for any fall maintenance work you need around the house
Maybe it’s gutter cleaning, snowplow service for the winter, or scheduling a company to winterize your sprinkler system like we have to do, take advantage of doing this now. Again, you are wanting to set yourself up for a stress-free back to school time, which includes scheduling things to wipe these “to-dos” from your mind. Taking care of this now also means that when it comes to choosing activities for the year, you have an accurate picture of what your calendar and schedule will actually look like.
6. With your calendar getting filled in now, begin choosing the activities for you and your family that will actually work
Remember in Ten Things I Do to Get it All Done and various other posts you will find here on reducing stress and developing systems, sometimes we can have a tendency to over schedule, overcommit, and overdo things. Choose wisely. Choose things that coincide together whenever possible and choose things that multiple family members can do at one time when you can.
7. With an idea of your calendar and schedule, develop a thoughtful routine as accurately as you can at this point
Which day does it make sense to run your errands? Which days will you be home more? You will want to develop a routine that keeps these things in mind. Just because you always have cleaned your house on Saturdays doesn’t always mean that this is the day that it will work best. For instance, if you are not going to be home much on Saturdays, planning to clean your house on Saturdays is only setting yourself up to fail. No reason to have any of that. Develop a routine in light of your schedule and routine.
8. Do a roundup on your back to school supplies
This is the part you probably thought you would see in a piece on back to school planning. Most times you will get a list of the typical school supplies like pencils, pens, notecards, and such, but also take an inventory of your backpacks and lunch boxes, needed sports equipment, clothing, shoes, and instruments that are in proper working order. School supplies involve so much more than what fits in a backpack.
9. Create back to school lunch box ideas
Pinterest is a wealth of creative ideas for any kind of meal ever imaginable. Take the time now to get some ideas and maybe even do a few trial runs on some new things to make lunch a little bit less boring.
10. Develop a meal planning strategy that works for you
You have heard me talk of the value of meal planning before, but it is a practice that is both frugal and time efficient. If you are looking for some guidance on coming up with a meal plan, I cover everything from start to finish in Menu Planning 101 Part One and Menu Planning 101 Part Two.
11. Find some new dinner ideas to put into the rotation for busy school nights
Again, Pinterest is a great place to find new recipes. I’ve got several boards of recipes like Mexican food, meat, soups, and many more. You can follow me on Pinterest here if you want to peek at some of what I’ve got.
12. While looking at some of the new recipes that you are throwing into the rotation for dinners and lunch box ideas, create a list of pantry staples to keep on hand
If you already have a list like what I shared with my Stress Free Pantry Staples for Last Minute Meals and Stress Free Freezer Staples for Last Minute Meals, add new staples into these lists as needed.
You can grab my list of pantry staples by entering your email below:
Pantry Staples Inventory List
Grab your free staples inventory list & some other cool stuff, too!
13. Start stocking your freezer with dinners and breakfasts to use when life gets super rushed
Does freezer cooking overwhelm you? It did me, too. And then I discovered an amazing meal planning program that made freezer cooking quick and so simple. I cannot tell you the way mealtimes have changed in our home since using this program, but I feel so much better about serving my family a healthy meal at home than I ever did running through a drive-thru.
14. Develop time saving systems
Develop systems for things like backpacks, school papers, and music and sports equipment now to avoid scrambling to figure these things out in the hustle and bustle of the new school year. Back to school time is an adjustment on its own, but if you already have systems in place that your kids know how to use it will help control all that school clutter.
15. Create carpools with other families who will be taking kids to the same places
Carpools make life soooooo much easier. Take the time to see where you can save yourself on time and gas now. You will be so happy you did!
16. Gather your team and share with them the back to school systems, plans, and schedules that you have in place
Getting everyone on the same page beforehand will help create a seamless (or at least as much as possible) first week of school.
While the back to school rush is unavoidable as it is always a frenzied time for both students and their parents, there are things you can do now to save your sanity to some extent. Some of these may be things you have already thought of, yet you may have found a few things that are new to you as well. The time and effort you put forth now will be time well spent.
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