10 Steps to Getting Your Family Organized Before School Starts

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Let’s talk about it parents…and help each other out along the way!

It’s August and the first day of school is lurking right around the corner.  How did this happen?  Where did the summer go?  Don’t fret.  There are a few things you can pace yourself in getting prepared for your family’s schedule to change once again!  I have to admit that I love the relaxed nature of the summer months…no schedules, no lessons, no early wake up times!  However, if you get organized beforehand, the harsh adjustment to the back to school mayhem may be survivable!

  1. Share a family calendar online.  You may prefer a wall calendar, but a shared calendar that everyone (including all kids and the husband) can access on their mobile devices or online is really helpful to keep everyone on top of everything.  It’s also great for everyone involved to enter their own events, because for one person to handle it all is just too much! I personally like to use Google calendars (everyone will need to access it using a gmail account).  You can find set up instructions here.  Especially if you have older grade school, middle or high school students, it may help avoid the constant question “When is ____?” or “Are we doing anything this weekend?”
  2. Clean up all computers and devices.  Delete any unnecessary school documents, images, and projects from previous years.  Create a folder for each child on an external hard drive and transfer anything you want to keep over.  Make sure all software is up to date.  Make folders for each child to save their documents for the upcoming year on the Desktop or somewhere else they can easily find it.
  3. Set up email folders for each child.  If you are like me, you’ll be getting inundated with email this upcoming year after signing up for the email newsletter lists for everyone’s school, team, club, etc.  Make email folders in your Inbox for each child (you can make subfolders for teams, clubs, etc.).  This way, if you don’t have a chance to read the email or want to keep it for future reference, you can file it away.  Also, at the end of the school year, you’ll be able to dump all of the contents and start over!  Such an easy way to purge old emails in seconds!
  4. Create a “Command Center” in your house.  I’m not talking about an elaborate wall in your whole kitchen.  You just need an organizational space or procedure for dealing with the incoming paperwork to come.  This can be as simple as the refridgerator.  You’ll be getting tons of flyers throughout the year, some for events, some forms to sign or complete and more.   Find an organization solution to serve as a place to post events and store paperwork that needs to be acted on.  I personally like magnetic file holders for the fridge.  You can search for any that you like, but I like the Officemate series.  You can also get magnetic solutions to hold notes, pencils, and more.  When paperwork is in the file folder on the fridge, these are obvious enough for me to know I need to act on something.  When any paperwork I need to sign is sitting in a filing area on the counter, I completely overlook it.  I only use one file magnetic file holder for papers I need to read/sign. Event flyers get entered into the online calendar and get posted on my fridge. Most papers my kids take home for me to look at get discarded (unless it is cool artwork or thoughtful writing/essays…then I keep them in an art portfolio!). I also use a dry erase calendar for the younger kids in my house.  Do what works for you and what will actually help tackle the clutter to come.
  5. Set up and organize a “homework area” for the kids.  When I was a teacher, I always advised parents to have their children do their homework in a open and public area of the house.  Choose the dining room table, kitchen table, or any space where they are visible.  This will allow you to help keep them from being tempted towards distractions.  Make sure the area is cleared off (you mean your dining room table isn’t always covered with “stuff”?!) and that your children know where to access extra supplies, pencil sharpeners, etc.  Make sure the space can accomodate for any laptops, computers, or mobile devices the children will be using for their school work.
  6. Go through all of the kids’ stored fall/winter clothes.  Check to see what still fits and what doesn’t.  Anything that doesn’t can be stored for other siblings or sold in consignment.  Getting a gauge on what clothes your children need for school will make for more cost-effective shopping trips during the tax-free holiday weekends in August.
  7. Make sure all lunchboxes, thermoses, windbreakers, coats, umbrellas, boots, backpacks, and other school gear are all in working order.  If you haven’t done so, give them all a good washing, label as necessary, make any minor repairs and make sure they are available and ready to be accessed!
  8. Start stacking up on school-year pantry essentials.  Now is the time to start stacking up on lunch box goodies like juice drinks/bottles, snacks, granola bars, crackers and the kids’ favorite morning and after school goodies (cereal, fruit snacks, cookie dough, etc.).  Be on the lookout for buying in bulk, sales, and coupons.  Once the fast moving train that we call the “school year” starts, it might make it easier to have these non-perishables stocked to decrease the amount of time you’ll need to visit the grocery store.  I’m all about decreasing anxiety!
  9. Make arrangements for any needed after school or before school care.  If you haven’t done so already, make sure arrangements are booked and arranged.  If you’ve already done so, now is the time to gather allergy meds, label all of your child’s gear, and store all pertinent childcare phone numbers in your cell phone.
  10. Make all needed doctor, dental, and other necessary medical appointments.  Whether it is a well-check up, a sports physical, an allergy checkup, etc. doctor’s offices need time to get any necessary forms completed for school.  I also like to squeeze in a dental appointment before my kids go back in the fall!  Make those appointments early because the few weeks before school starts is one of the busiest times of year for them!

Does this seem like a lot?  If you take it one step at a time, you’ll have it all covered by the first day of school!  I’ve made a downloadable checklist for you if it will make it easier!

What’s your biggest tip to getting your family ready for the school year?

Share in the comments!

Best wishes on school year 2015-2016!

~Lani

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6 Comments

  1. Can I just say, I can’t believe it’s already time to start planning for school? Where did the summer go? It’s nuts how fast time goes by. My biggest challenge is all the papers the kids bring home from school. A huge pile ends up at the end of the kitchen table and I have a hard time keeping up with what needs to be signed and returned to school, so I’ll definitely try the magnetic file holders for the fridge. You also reminded me that I need to get the kids to the dentist before school starts. Great post, great tips, thanks!

    1. I can’t stand the paper work either! I honestly say, unless it is something I need to sign, a lovely piece of artwork, or a great essay…I throw it away immediately. That probably will bite me in the a$$ at some point, but with my oldest now in high school and my second almost done with elementary, I’ve never needed to keep any of the papers!

  2. I’m working on the command center, but in a notebook. I have sections for each kid and then each activity. I’m putting the monthly calendar on the front and lunch calenders inside. It will go right next to a tray for the kids to put all their important papers in each night. I am determined to stay organized this school year!

    1. Great idea! I like how your command center is portable! I need to stay organized even more this year. I finally cleaned up my kitchen and purged enough so that my countertops are nice and clean! It has actually been refreshing to see each day. My countertops usually collect clutter, so I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t happen this year!