Back-to-School Family Organization Tips 2019
Hey y’all! With plenty of anticipation, it is time to shift back into school mode. Some of you have already made the initial transition. We start next week in our district. My girls are both excited and a tad nervous about beginning 4th and 2nd grades. I am happy to get back to regular schedules, but still have some work to do to get my kids and household organized to start the new school year off as smoothly as possible. To help support your family, I have created an updated and expanded post with back-to-school family organization tips. As always, use the ideas that seem like they would be helpful to you and your family, and disregard those that do not. And bear in mind, you do not have to finish all of your organizing before the first day of school. Prioritize the most important things for your family and then ease into the rest in August and September.
Back-to-School Supplies and Clothing
Go through your child(ren)’s clothes and donate items that no longer fit and cannot be passed down to a sibling. Make a list of any clothing that your child(ren) need and make a plan to purchase used or new.
Have your child's shoe size measured to see if she/he needs new sneakers for school (Nordstrom does this for free, as do many shoe stores at malls.). If the current pair still fits, simply wash them and maybe get a new pair of shoelaces, if needed. If a new pair is needed, plan to purchase.
Check to see if your child’s backpack, lunchbox, and water bottle are still in good shape. If they are, just wash them. If not, purchase new or used. For new items, I suggest you check out Wirecutter's excellent list of recommendations for The Best School Supplies for Back to School, including backpacks (a New York Times Company, Wirecutter recommendations are made through "vigorous reporting, interviewing, and testing by teams of veteran journalists, scientists, and researchers." Their independent reviews focus on finding the best product in a range of categories "for most people." Not an ad; I simply find their recommendations quite helpful and reliable). Mother Magazine also has a roundup of backpacks at various price points. If you have daughters like I do, A Mighty Girl has a great list of Girls’ Empowerment Back to School Supplies.
Check your lunch storage supplies. If a new lunch box or additional reusable lunch containers are needed, Wirecutter has recommendations as well.
In our house, we use PlanetBox’s nontoxic, eco-friendly stainless steel lunchboxes with customizable magnets and carry bags. While on the pricier side, PlanetBox lunch boxes and accessories hold up incredibly well to wear and tear and have a five year warranty (they are also dishwasher safe). You can feel good about reusing them year after year and adding less waste to landfills. PlanetBox is currently offering a 25% discount through September 15th (code: FuelYourAdventure25). As always with Enriched Family, #notanad.
If your kids get school lunch, check their account balances at school and deposit money, if needed.
Purchase required school supplies, if you haven’t already. Again, see Wirecutter's recommendations and check the supply list for your local school(s) and grade(s).
Consider Making a Local School Supplies Donation
Of course, it is a privilege to be able to afford school supplies, whether used or new. While you are thinking about school supplies for your children, let’s also think about the many children whose parents cannot afford school supplies. If interested (and able) in donating funds for school supplies, check out this great Austin360 article, as well as this Statesman article, both with a list of a wide variety of Central Texas organizations to consider for school supply donations. If you are in need of free supplies for your children, these articles also list how to get supplies. If you live outside of Central Texas, check your local news source for suggestions for donation organizations and where to get supplies, if needed.
We donated to For the Children Inc., an Austin-based nonprofit organization that provides basic school supplies to children that qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program. Their goal is to reach all elementary school children over the 10 school districts in Central Texas. 100% of donated funds go towards school supply purchases. A one time gift of $25 will support 7 students, $50 will support 14 students, and $100 will support 28 students.
If needed, schedule kids' back to school haircut appointments.
Schedule annual doctor and dentist appointments for your kids and the rest of your family, if you haven’t already.
Household Organization Tips
Do a full clean out and organization of your kids’ rooms, ideally with their assistance. See this previous blog post for some helpful tips on organizing kids' rooms with their help (scroll down to the bottom of the post).
Create a homework space in a common area in the house or in your child(ren)’s room(s). The space should be uncluttered and relatively quiet.
Get your weekly meal plan organized. Check out this previous blog post on meal planning for ideas.
Create or update the kids' daily routine/chore chart. Example here.
Create a paperwork clutter control system. We are all inundated on a daily basis with correspondence, bills, junk mail, and important documents. Of course, the paper pile only gets bigger when the kids go back to school what with kids' school forms, assignments, and completed work and art. I have a simple, inexpensive suggestion to control this paperwork clutter: purchase a red and a green colored folder and adopt an In/Out system (as I use a lot of file folders, I typically just buy a large pack of colored file folders and use a red and green one for this purpose). The red folder is for urgent actions (kids' permission slips to sign, bills that must be paid that week, and so on) and the green folder is for non-urgent items to review or file. The system works like like this:
No more stacking. I repeat, no more stacking. Each day, process all mail immediately (or as soon as humanly possible). All junk mail goes into the recycling bin and then separate "real" mail into the two colored folders: 1) action or 2) review/file.
Each school day, when unpacking younger kids' backpacks, put their important forms, permission slips, and assignments into the red folder (assuming they do not need to be signed that day) and put non-urgent documents to review in the green folder, including art work. Tell your older kids about this system and ask them to process their documents daily into the two folders as well.
Check out Artkive as a great way to keep your children’s artwork organized. They will send you a box, you fill it with your kids’ artwork and send it back to Artkive. They will then professionally photograph your children’s creations and turn them into a keepsake book. No more papers all over the house and fridge!
Choose a regular, recurring day each week (or bi-weekly, if needed) to process what is in each of the colored folders. The goal is to start each week with the folders as empty as possible (if you need to cheat on time a bit that week, just process the red folder, but try not to make this a habit as the green folder will quickly become overwhelming).
Keep the folders in a highly visible and accessible place in your house with the red one on top as a visual reminder.
Firm up the plan for after-school activities and register, as needed.
Put all the dates for the new school year calendar in your family calendar (holidays, early release days, etc.).
If you don't have a family calendar, I highly encourage you to start one! This has made our lives so much easier. We publish a shared "Family" calendar to iCloud that syncs across all our devices. My husband or I can set events and appointments which appear instantly on our phones and computers in a special color for Family.
Sketch out the weekly schedule for pick-ups and drop offs, as needed, and share with appropriate family members (or add it to your new family calendar!).
The week before school starts (or at least 3-4 days before), I recommend setting the alarm and getting the family up at whatever hour you will need to get up once school starts so that everyone has a chance to get used to waking up that early again.
Finally, a recommendation to consider keeping the schedule light the first couple of weeks of school as everyone adjusts to their new routines and early wakeups.
Roundup of General Resources
Looking for lunch ideas? Check out Real Simple’s article on creative back to school lunches, as well as Mother Magazine’s easy school lunch ideas. Also, take a look at South Austin Moms’ quick list of some healthy snack options.
Want to get your child talking about their hopes and fears related to the new school year? Check out Big Life Journal’s free printable Back-to-School Interview that you can do with your kids, as well as their tips on how you can help your child manage back-to-school anxiety.
Maybe you are concerned about talking with your child about the recent gun violence in Texas and Ohio. Mother Magazine has a good article on how to talk to your children about mass shootings and other tough topics, with advice broken down by the age of the child.
Have a child starting preschool or kindergarten? Check out Mother Magazine’s article about these transitions.
Is your son or daughter heading to college? Check out NYT’s article, Advice to My College Freshman.
Plan a fun, family activity to mark the end-of-summer. It might be cool to plan this activity as a family, if doable, or at least take some suggestions from the kids. Another more efficient option would be to offer the kids three pre-selected ideas to choose from.
Enriched Family Back-to-School Special
As a working parent, I know first hand how crazy back-to-school can be. The planning and organizing process can easily be overwhelming, but it is so worth the time and energy. Enriched Family is here to help you with information, resources, and family organization services. Check out our Back-to-School family organization services special below! Get on the calendar soon as the discount is only available in August and September 2019.
Good luck and enjoy the back to school silence!
Enriched Family is a unique, family resource and organization business dedicated to providing families with the information, tools, and systems they need to live more organized and joyful lives. Services include: Custom family-focused research (child care, education, health and wellness resources, camps, and enrichment activities), family organization solutions (stuff and systems), and productivity consulting for busy professional parents (planning and prioritizing, productivity coaching, and time management coaching). I offer a free, 20-minute initial phone consultation to all new clients to discuss matching your needs and priorities with my services. I invite you to check out my services and click the "Let's Get Started!" button below to contact me with any questions.
(Please note, the above post is provided for informational purposes only; the information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes, and no guarantees are made.)