It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, silly, not Christmas. It’s time to send those munchkins back to school and get everyone on a consistent routine again! This means busy mornings and even busier evenings balancing homework, after school activities, and sports. Oh yeah, and dinner at some point. This year I am sending two of my kiddos off to school which means twice the lunch packing, twice the homework, and twice the amount of paperwork coming in and out of the house 5 days a week. I find that the best defense is a good offense. Uh, I mean… careful planning and organization will help your family transition back to the school schedule smoothly.
Here are a few tips that have helped me keep my sanity when school time rolls back around.
- A Space for Everything and Everything in It’s Space: Backpacks, lunch bags, water bottles, sports gear, and an endless string of paperwork will soon be flooding into our homes once again. Take the time to find a central location for all of these items to “live” when they are not in use. Maybe you have a spare hall closet, a space near the door to your garage, or a bare wall in the laundry room to hang hooks for backpacks so they don’t get left on the stairs. Empty out a small cabinet or shelf in the kitchen for lunch bags, water bottles, and lunch packing supplies. Designate a little file box or tray for paperwork that mom and dad need to sign and send back to school. If you take the time now to find a home for all of these items, they won’t overwhelm you once you’re busy.
- Family Command Center: Browse Pinterest for “family command center ideas.” There are thousands of ideas of command centers that you can DIY so that every member of your family is aware of the schedule. It could be a simple as a large wall calendar for everyone to see your different activities and appointments, or you could go all out and dedicate a whole wall to color coordinated schedules, chore charts, meal plans, and running grocery lists. Whatever you choose to do, make it the place that everyone goes first to write down important dates, appointments, or reminders so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
- Pack Lunches the Night Before: Take 10 minutes in the evening to pack lunches for the next day. If your children are old enough, make lunch packing one of their daily responsibilities. If you have already done your meal prepping, they can easily bag up pre-cut veggies, portions of dinner leftovers, fruits, and snacks. If you need some ideas for what to pack for lunch, click here and you’ll see several posts on what I pack my kids (and husband) for lunch.
- Make Ahead Breakfasts: I don’t know about you, but I will do just about anything to snag a few extra minutes of shut-eye in the morning. I find that I can sleep for a few more minutes if I prep breakfast before I head to bed for the night. Sometimes I’ll make a big batch of oatmeal to reheat throughout the week. Occasionally I will make a big batch of muffins for a quick grab and go breakfast. If I feel fancy, I will make Chia Pudding the night before and let the kids add their own toppings in the morning. If I have a few spare hours over the weekend, I’ll make a huge batch of Pumpkin Pancakes, freeze them on a baking sheet for a few hours, and transfer them to a freezer bag. In the morning we toss the pancakes in the toaster (Eggo who?)! But mostly, I make smoothie packs by freezing sliced bananas, berries, and greens in bags so that I can easily toss them in the blender in the morning with some liquid and get in some great nutrition in the mornings.
- Dress for Success: This seems so simple, but it is so effective. Have your child take a few minutes before bed to check the weather report for the next day and lay out their clothes for the morning. It saves on the “did you wash my Star Wars shirt yet” arguments, and the “I have nothing to wear” melt downs that always seem to happen right when you need to walk out the door. Little ones might need a bit more guidance at the beginning (No sweetie. Rain boots and shorts don’t really work when it’s 35 degrees outside), but they soon get the hang of it and it really helps build their independence.
Do you have any other time saving back to school tips to share? Help a mama out and leave them in the comments below!