Not sure how it’s possible, but summer is about to screech to a jarring halt. And quickly. How in the World?! What’s funny is that typically I’m more than happy for the kids to head back to school. In all honesty, we’ve experienced a few brutal, stressful summers – big moves, expensive home improvement projects (which meant we couldn’t go anywhere), behavior issues, huge age differences (which makes it hard to plan things everyone enjoys), poor planning on my part where we end up missing deadlines for camps and activities. But this summer I vowed it would be different. Very different.
And it was!
In the early Spring I researched any and everything we could get into. Remember my summer activity calendar? Our busy schedule is why I created it. I planned the summer to be totally packed and fun, yet also give them solid down time at home to hang with friends, swim and play video games. The kids even had tutoring scheduled all summer so we didn’t experience the “summer slide”. And I was shocked with how little complaining there was each week with the calendar full of tutoring and activities.
Have we turned a corner?
WHAT WE DID THIS SUMMER
Hearing your kids happy and excited about going to camps and classes – priceless!
The kids had a great summer trying new activities like golf, tennis, basketball, and dance. They also did faith camp, cooking classes, and science experiments. My oldest had his first week of sleep away camp, we traveled to Little Rock to see friends (and I worked a couple days there), and even took a little trip to Orange County. We had a fishing birthday party for my middle guy (who turned 11 – say what?!), tons of playdates and sleepovers, mom had time to work with clients and do a little blogging here and there too. It truly was a great summer and honestly can look back saying we made the most of our 9 weeks.
But now…as I stare down the last week of summer…time to get back to school ready! I couldn’t be more excited because this year I have a little girl receiving her First Holy Communion and a little boy in his last year of elementary school. Big milestones to come.
BACK TO SCHOOL ORGANIZATION FOR PARENTS
I’m sure many of you are seeing / hearing about all things back-to-school related for the kids….but what about for us parents? Beyond the typical school supply list and clothes shopping, parents know all too well we have much more to deal with. And those are the topics / tasks I look forward to organizing each and every August.
Why? Because it makes my week run smoother and weekday mornings / afternoons a breeze. Well, sorta – it’s not always perfect. But it sure does help to have yourself organized.
I’ve never before shared my most important back to school organization tasks. So this month as I’ve been tackling little projects, I’ve been taking photos and notes to share.
GET THOSE SCHOOL DATES IN YOUR PLANNER – NOW!
One of my very favorite things to do (can you imagine that?) is add all of the important school dates into my planner…
My planner is for keeping my schedule and my business calendar organized, but I must have school events and the schedule plugged into this baby too.
Beyond the obvious of knowing when Spring Break is or when conference week is happening, having dates plugged into my planner is critical for client scheduling. When someone wants to book an appointment, I can offer times with confidence knowing when / where my kids are on that day and if I am in fact available. No rustling through papers on my desk or in my bag looking for the school calendar.
And hello, I’m an organizer – that scene wouldn’t go down so well.
I have 2 school schedules to keep up with – 2 of my kids go to one school and 1 attends a different school. Unfortunately, both schools operate on different start / end times and have different early release days. This pretty much goes for everything including holiday breaks and conference weeks.
To get all the dates plugged in, I print out both school calendars…
First, I added all of the breaks, conference weeks and holidays. Then to make each week that much more smoother, I add their daily schedule. I did this last year and it worked SO well. At the top of each week I have an empty space…
I added one school calendar in black and the other in blue…
You can see above the differing start / end times. Gotta stay sharp – this helps tremendously!
There are going to be additional events and dates to add, but those won’t start flooding in until after the kids are in school and the papers begin to flow. With 3 sets of teachers to keep up with and all the school events, keeping it organized in my planner is essential. I also keep the school calendar in the back in case a fellow parent needs info in a pinch (I’m a room mom this year)…
My first tip is definitely to get those dates plugged in now while you have the time. Even if you don’t have a planner, just print out the calendar and keep it somewhere handy.
HOT LUNCH MENUS AND SCHEDULES
As luck would have it (sarcasm) both schools operate on a totally different hot lunch system. One school is an “order in advance” type, while the other is a “load your card and buy when you want” system.
To make life easy, I order hot lunch by the month for the “order in advance” school, print the schedule and post it inside one of my kitchen cabinets. This cabinet is over the counter where I make lunches…
For the “buy when you want” lunch system, I print out the menu each month and post it inside this cabinet as well…
I am never in doubt as to what is going on in hot lunch world…and no one is sad they missed pizza day. Or should I say…no one blames me that they missed pizza day. Ha!
LUNCHES FROM HOME
On the lunch topic, this is a great time to check out your lunch boxes and containers. Do you need to grab anything new while you’re back to school shopping? Anything you try last year not work so well?
Last year I gave these containers a shot…
They worked well, but a few weeks in my oldest was complaining about having to cart them around in his backpack for the rest of the day after lunch. As a 7th grader, I can imagine he is going to be ultra-sensitive as to how his lunch is packed this year.
I’m still planning to use these for various lunch items and they have come in great with my own personal meal-prep / planning. But this is a good time to think about those cold / hot home lunch containment options. For example, how am I going to pack my 12 year olds lunch now. Geez! Share your ideas with me, moms of middle-schoolers!
SET UP A SCHOOL PAPER COMMAND CENTER
Just like those dates and events are going to start rolling in, the paper landslide is on its way. Beat them to the punch by having a command center set up in advance. I created this system in a kitchen cabinet and it’s been amazing!…
I organized this using the Martha Stewart Wall Manager system, which is no longer available. But similar systems can be found – like this one or this one from Amazon or this one from The Container Store.
The command center gave me a space for each of the kids weekly homework assignments, spelling lists, those great teacher intro letters (you know, those letters with important numbers and info you receive at back-to-school night), and a spot to put away pencils and supplies (if they do homework at the kitchen table).
CHECK YOUR EXIT AND DROP ZONES
You know, the space where kids dump everything when they get home. Or the space in the morning where everyone is frantically trying to find their backpack or missing shoe. Oh, those fun school mornings. Don’t worry, that’s not what you’ll remember when they are grown and out of the house.
But seriously, check your exit and entry points. I have created a few easy and efficient mudroom systems to control the clutter…like this garage mudroom…
And this one in a laundry room…
A system like this gives you a spot to hang backpacks, organize shoes and coats, hang umbrellas and more.
ORGANIZE YOUR FRIDGE AND FREEZER
You guys know I have a thing for an organized fridge and freezer. This is the time to get yourself set up too! I’m talking beyond the food shopping list. We’re talking containers to organize your fridge and make that breakfast / lunch prep easier.
Here’s some inspiration I’ve shared as well as links to where you can find the containers…
You can check out my organized fridge / freezer in this video too!
NARROW DOWN A HOMEWORK CENTER
Now, let me preface by saying to try to control yourself until AFTER school begins. I get giddy about new school supplies too!
I’ve seen so many parents (and I’m guilty of it myself) get super excited to set up a fun homework center only to find out half the items you purchased aren’t necessary. In general, I suggest you wait until you see the type of homework your children will have and what the recommended tools are. In our case, it’s shocking how little my kids need for doing homework. There’s the usual suspects like pencils, crayons, markers, a sharpener, ruler…but a lot of their homework is on the computer or comes by way of projects that are spread out throughout the year.
What they need most is open space to spread out or use the computer (without distractions).
Our homework center is under construction at the moment, since it’s located in my home office (which is still a work in progress). But I’m assembling everything tomorrow! Can’t wait to share a post about their new homework space soon!
Looking for some inspiration now? In the past I have shared this space…
And this space…
I suggest finding a spot now, get it tidied and cleaned up. Maybe a new desk and comfy chair. But hold off on the contents until you know the tools they need.
A FEW ADDITIONAL TIPS
A couple ideas that really helped me last year…
- I had our last name embroidered on the inside or sleeves of important clothing items. Not kidding – we literally didn’t lose one piece of clothing because of that. 2 of my kids attend a private school and wear a uniform. It was shocking how many items we lost the first year we attended school there. It’s easy when everything looks the same. But with our last name added to the clothing, nothing went missing last year. Not a single item. And if it did, it was clear who it belonged to and was returned quickly. If you don’t want to embroider something, Avery makes great adhesive labels that are very durable! I own these and use them occasionally as well.
- Do a quick clothing purge before you head out for back to school shopping. You may be surprised what still fits or what you forgot they had yet to grow into – which will save you some money.
- Get those cute “first day of school” signs printed now. I am always guilty of waiting until the last minute. This is one of my favorites! And I love this one too!
Hope you found this post helpful as we get ready for all things back to school! Back soon with our updated homework space!
Happy back to school organizing everyone!