It seems like every summer gets shorter and shorter and back to school usually creeps up on me. This summer did fly by but I’m happy to say after lots of work and organization projects, I feel like I am more prepared and organized than I have ever been for back to school.
Ready to get organized? Let me guide you through project by project on what being ready for Back to School looks like in our house.
A few years ago I found myself getting frequently frustrated by supplies all over the place. Backpacks in one place, shoes in another. Homework was lucky if it make it back in a backpack let alone back to school. If it was a chilly morning the kids were usually late to school because they were searching for a jacket. My husband manages the mornings with the kids and let’s me sleep in if I don’t have an early meeting (love him for this!). But often the utter chaos that was going on in the morning rush would mean that I’d have to drag myself out of bed and help put out the fire dejour anyway. Enough was enough. I finally solved this with the kid’s cubby. I gave up 1/2 of our hall closet and designated a shelf for each kid. Because I don’t want to have to stoop down, the baby gets the top shelf. Our daughter gets the middle and our older son gets the bottom. I bought a plastic milk crate for the big kids for their shoes and the rest of the shelf space is for their backpack.
Kid’s Out Box & Weekly Schedule
With inspiration from over at Organizing Home Life, I also designed these cool pockets that have been designated as the kids “out boxes”. If there are papers that need to go back to school that would require my attention/signature (think field trip permission slips), I will put them in their “outbox” and they are responsible for getting them into their backpacks on the way out.
Now I know what you’re thinking, why don’t I just give them to the kids and have them put them in their backpack? Well, often by the time I have a chance to sit down and process a paper or sign a form, the kids are already in bed. Rather than leaving them on the kitchen table (where they are often forgotten), they have a designated place to be that gets checked as backpack get put on every morning. I also posted a weekly schedule so the kid’s can take responsibility to ensure they have the right clothes and supplies they need every day. Jazz shoes on Thursdays, guys shoes on Tuesdays, library books on Fridays, etc.
Ok so the kid’s have an outbox, Mom has an “inbox”. Every day when the kids get home from school, they put their “lunch pails on the counter” (this has kind of become a mantra in our house) and before they put their backpacks and shoes in their cubby, they unload any papers that have come home and put them in Mom’s Inbox. This could be graded papers, permission or information papers, or for my son, homework papers to be completed. Since my daughter gets assigned homework most nights, she removes all homework and needs books and stacks them on the table where we review what she needs to get done before heading off to the desk in her room to work on it independently.
I picked this hanging folder at Target for $4! And hung it on our fridge with Command Strips. What a score! You’ll notice that there are 5 pockets but I’ve only accounted for 2 so far. I’m thinking of making a “dad’s folder” which is where I’ll put grades work I’ve seen before it gets stored away. He’s often working evenings so doesn’t see it when I do. It would be nice for him to have a folder to review. Then I’ll have 2 more spaces. Perhaps for each child’s teacher’s newsletter? We will see what works best for us.
Finished Work Boxes
So we all know tons of graded papers and art projects come home with kids every year. Like WAY TOO MANY! And of course, my son wants me to save every single scrap of paper he touched. I’ve taken to sneaking the extras into recycling because we literally have waterworks if he sees anything in the trash. My strategy has been to get a 12×12 scrapbook paper storage box for each kid for each year (yeah, I know over time it gets to be a lot of boxes, but so far it’s what’s working). I label each of them with their name and the year and all of their finished work, papers and art projects go into the boxes. Once they are full, I start purging so any given year doesn’t have more than 1 box. The boxes are really convenient on top of the fridge and have worked really well for us.
Mom’s Homework Box
The last element in my back to school organization plan is Mom’s Homework Box. I’ve done this every year for the past few years and it has worked so well. So why do the kids get to have all of the fun of new supplies at the beginning of the year? And why on earth can they never find a pencil when it’s time for homework? MHB solves for both of these. I load up on one or two extras of all of the school supplies that are on huge sales during back to school and designate them as mine. Then we use this box for homework time and everyone is easily able to find what they need. Because it’s Mom’s box, they are responsible for keeping it clean and organized and returning everything when they are done. This year I have: pencils, pens, markers, crayons, colored pencils, erasers, glue and a pencil sharpener. It makes being ready for homework so much easier.
So there you have it. A few strategies that took me a few years to get in place but are truly pretty simple that have really helped us be organized for back to school.
I hope you find my tips helpful! What other Back to School Organization strategies do you use in your house?
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