after-school organization routine

Mar 15

Yes, I realize we’re on the down hill slide into summer and soon (very soon) school will be out. But recently I’ve received a few questions about how I stay on top of the after-school backpack mess. I sooooo hear you! We get a lot of papers coming home too. Not to mention, there is a ton to stay on top of; homework, school event dates, and more.

Here is how I keep us organized when it comes to after-school.

First things first – everything gets unloaded from the car. Ev-er-y-thing. During the week, we spend too much time in the car. I love to start a new day with a fresh clean slate. Therefore, everything’s unloaded – backpacks, my purse, toys, blankets, snacks, water bottles, items grabbed while out running errands and more. Everything is out of the car and put away or placed in the trash/recycling and backpacks are plopped onto the counter.

While the kids have a snack, I quickly go through the backpacks and my purse….

How do I tackle a backpack? Just like the car, everything gets dumped out and sorted. I remove lunch boxes for cleaning…

Then I go through communication folders…

When it comes to the kid’s schoolwork and what I keep/toss…it’s tough. I’d love to keep it all, but if I did I would have to rent an offsite storage space. 🙂 I’m not too brutal about it up front. Some things stick around for a couple weeks. Like these paper reader books for my kindergartener…

His class had a president’s day unit at school and for a whole week we were seeing paper readers and other artwork all about our country’s first presidents. I like to keep the reader books for practicing.

But, when it comes to artwork or other schoolwork…I carefully choose the pieces I’d like to display for a while as well as the pieces that are prime for photo / recycling. You don’t even want to ask about (or see) my current bins and bins (and biiiiins) of kid’s artwork. It’s really ridiculous. I’m going to get that squared away once we are settled in a new home. For now, I take a photo of the art or school work I would like to keep for a future book, display any cute items in the kitchen art cabinet, and everything else gets recycled – right away.

For example, this drawing is so cute….

Doesn’t it look just like George Washington? 🙂
This is something I definitely want a photo of and will display for a little while. But it will go into the recycling bin at some point. I’d love to keep it all, trust me. Such difficult mommy decisions we are faced with.
Once the backpack papers have been sorted, this is what I’m left with…
belongs to kids = paper readers that move to their bedroom bookshelves for practice reading.
recycling = not going to keep. leaves house immediately.
for mommy = school bills to pay, events to add to our calendar, school newsletters, etc.
Our environmentally-friendly school asks that the kids not use plastic water bottles and instead bring re-useable bottles. Each child needs a water bottle at school every day. So the next thing is to wash their bottles and set them out to dry. The next morning they’re ready for re-filling…

My 2nd grader has homework every night. When I unpack his backpack, I check the homework binder…

Then pull out worksheets or assignments he needs to complete. I place his binder on the side of our kitchen counter. This is a sign that he does have homework and after he eats a snack, he’ll grab the papers and head to the kitchen table to get it done…

Now that everything from today has been sorted, I get everything ready for the next day. Not only do we bring water bottles to school, we also pack a snack. Just something small. Yesterday I packed a little container of snack mix; peanut butter crackers, goldfish, yogurt pretzels, graham cracker shapes, a few raisins, a mini-orange, and 2 frosted animals cookies. The animal cookies are a big treat for them…

If i’m giving them a cold snack, I’ll pack it in the morning as lunches are being prepared. Sometimes I pack mini-carrots with ranch dressing or string cheese.

Once the dry snack is packed up, it goes into their front backpack pocket…where they know to find their snack each day…

When the backpacks are ready, I place them on this little table in the living room…

The kitchen is close-by so in the morning it’s easy for me to grab the backpacks to add their lunch and water bottles.

With the backpacks unloaded and ready, I tackle my purse…

Amazing how much junk can land in a purse over the course of a day. All I had yesterday was a stack of receipts for recycling…

All clean…

My purse sits on the cabinets above our make-shift cubby…

That is the door to the garage. Meaning I can easily grab and go…the purse is clean and ready for another day!

Speaking of the make-shift cubbies….don’t you love how the kids come home and toss their shoes everywhere. This is the scene every day at this house….

My 2nd grader drops his shoes a mere 2 feet from the cabinet where they are supposed to go.

Ah well! 🙂 I try!

Once the bags are unpacked and ready for another school day, I then lay out their clothing as well…

The boys go to school every day, while my 3 year old attends pre-school a couple days a week. That’s why you don’t see her clothing here. I typically get her dressed in the morning as she gets out of the crib. The boys attend a private school and their uniform is easy enough to lay out the night before. In the morning, they come down to the living room and know where to find their clothes, get dressed and we’re ready for another productive school day.

I hope that answered your question as to how this crew operates in the school backpack department. If you have any great after-school organization tips, feel free to share!

Oh! – don’t forget to enter the shutterfly photo book giveaway! You can enter through tonight and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

comments +

  1. Jenn K says:

    Where did you find those backpacks and are you pleased with the quality? My kindergartener talked me into one this year from one of the girl stores at the mall and it's not held up well at all. I vow to do better for next school year!

    • hi!

      i found those backpacks at target…and they still have them. we are leaving on a trip this weekend and i was in the luggage area looking for some rolling bags for the kids…and i saw these backpacks there. they have help up amazingly well and i love how roomy they are inside. actually, they have almost held up too well, b/c as you know kids love to buy a new bag when they see one they like better. these are holding up so well we may be able to use them next year too. 🙂

      hope that helps,
      sam 🙂

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  3. jasi says:

    It's a really good system for keeping organized. Sometimes the kids are so excited to be home and tell me about their day that I procrastinate and wind up doing all of these things after they fall asleep. If I streamline it like this, I might be able to keep nights to myself. =D
    BTW- tell me about your purse. =D I'm looking for a new bag.

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