School will be here before you know it — and those lunches aren’t going to pack themselves. Here are five ways to organize your home for the school year.
Follow these steps to get a routine set before the buses start running!
Five ways to organize your home for the school year
1. Morning checklist
Whether you’re driving the carpool or they’re taking the bus, the same steps have to be completed each morning. Set up a chalkboard or whiteboard checklist for each kiddo to go through, and reinforce that it’s their responsibility to:
- Brush teeth and hair
- Check backpacks for any paperwork that needs signing
- Pack lunch or snacks
- Pack gym clothes or after-school clothes (if needed)
- Load up the dishwasher with breakfast dishes
It may feel like wishful thinking but after a while (or a missed lunch), your kids will embrace the system and be a little more self-sufficient. (And in case it goes without saying, be sure to tailor each checklist based on your child’s age and ability.)
2. Buy all the things
If I could go back in time and do it all over again, this is the one step I’d have made sure to complete before each school year begins: BUY. ALL. THE. POSTERBOARDS.
Inevitably, your kid will forget about that “huge” project, the one that comprises 40% of his grade, and inevitably, you’ll need a display to convince that science teacher you didn’t put it together at 11 p.m.
All that is to say, stock up NOW on all the typical and atypical school supplies you’ll need throughout the year and create your own at-home supply area including:
- Crayons, colored pencils, markers
- Printer paper, construction paper and scrapbooking paper
- Tape — Masking, duct, scotch and some colored options
- Posterboard. (Just buy all they have available. You won’t regret it.)
- Index cards
- Rubberbands, staples, and other fasteners
- Scissors (Plus, buy an extra one you hide)
3. Monthly + Sunday scheduling
Okay, the scheduling situation is going to be uniquely complicated for any family but I recently heard an idea that sounded pretty brilliant when it comes to organizing your home for the school year.
It’s a two-parter:
At the start of each month, look out for any big conflicts or shifts in schedules — whether you have a business trip or all the kids have practice at the same time in different areas of town.
The point is not to schedule out every carpool or activity logistic in advance, but to find coverage for gaps you won’t be able to manage on your own. By asking for help a few weeks in advance, you can minimize your stress and be respectful of the supportive folks who pitch in when you need it.
Then, every Sunday night, check out the week ahead and work to ensure that every dropoff, pick up and event has been planned out. Verify that any helpers (from nannies to grandparents) are still “on” for their duties, and that you haven’t scheduled any conflicting work meetings on days when your schedule needs to remain flexible.
4. Meal planning
If your kid refuses hot lunch or you prefer to pack their meals, then it’s important to have the meal planning covered in advance. A friend of mine swears by this weekly system:
- Chop fresh veggies and fruit and bag them into individual portions (have 2-3 different options)
- Do the same with crackers, nuts, chips, cookies or any other snack food they can have in their lunches
- Teach your kid how to make a sandwich and have them pack the lunch as you load the dishwasher after dinner. By making it a nightly routine, you won’t forget (and you can lightly supervise to ensure they’re not only packing cookies and soda).
And if your kids are older, you can delegate the fruit-and-veggie packing to them, too! Use your best judgment.
5. Hooks, racks, cubbies and more
Whether you have a designated mudroom or a hallway that works overtime, it’s important that everything have a place to return to. Here are a few ideas:
- Hang up hooks for jackets and backpacks
- Label cubbies for extras like hats and mittens
- Be sure there’s a specific spot in the garage for oversized activity bags or sporting equipment and that the bag is returned there after every practice or game. (My wish for you is to never get the “Is my soccer bag in your trunk?” call
It’s a chaotic time of year but with a little upfront organization and some strict enforcement, you can get your home organized for the school year — and keep it that way, well into the spring. For even more tips, check out this great article from Freshome. Keep the process going with this blog post about organizing your garage!
P.S. Looking to move to a school district that would better suit your family? Reach out any time for insights and expertise!