Organization and Routines for Back-to-School
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The Best Organization and Routines for Back-to-School

Organization and Routines for Back-to-School

August is such a weird month. We’re hanging on to every last hope of summer, trying to fit in activities and day trips that we have been wanting to take since May. But at the same time, kids are getting their school supplies lists, and class schedules, and registering for fall activities. And it’s all sorts of mixed excitement.  

In the middle of it, parents are (maybe, hopefully?) trying to plan ahead for the transition back to school. Schedules change, daily needs change, and we’re left with an unknown period of “wait and see.”

I think it’s best to do what we can now to make transitions easier for when school starts. Let’s dive into organization and routines for back-to-school. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. These are all products or companies that I have used and can personally recommend.  

What are your biggest worries/stressors for back-to-school?

What are your worries or stress points? The first thing we need to do is identify what needs to be fixed or changed, right? 

Time management

Did you guys have a super chill summer that left little need for structure or routines? That sounds awesome. But now that school is about to start that will probably be a big change for your kiddos.  


Do you have a school zone where all of the backpacks, gym shoes, and musical instruments are kept? Or maybe you’re dreading the paperwork and artwork that makes its way back home after school. Either way, we can start to implement changes now to make things easier later.  

School Lunches

If you’re not in the flow of making school lunches, this one can be a tough one to get back into. Start tweaking your setup now so you’re ready when school is back in session. 

Balancing homework, activities, and family life

Are you already wondering how you’re going to balance it all? Maybe you have multiple kids with different fall sports or activities. Maybe your job changes with the season and you need to prepare yourself as well. Acknowledging this before you’re in the thick of it will be a big help.

What outcome do you want in your organization and routines for back-to-school?

Now that you have identified your worry or stress point – or more than one – you can start thinking about your end goal. A stress-free morning? A lunch-packing system? Family dinners three nights a week? Start taking steps to create that now.

Time Management

Focus on one area of your day at a time: Mornings, after school, or evenings

Time management can include morning routines to get out the door on time, afternoon routines or plans to fit in homework and activities, and even getting back into a bedtime routine so you’re sure your child is well-rested.  

Examples of morning time management that you can start now: 

  1. Have a consistent wake time. If your child has been sleeping in much later than usual because it’s summer, start to slowly wake your child up earlier. Every few days, set that alarm 15 minutes earlier until you are at the time that your child will need to wake up for school. And keep it that way!
  2. Develop a consistent morning routine. My son will wear pajamas all day if we let him! When your kids wake up, remind them to get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush their teeth so they’re ready for the day – even if they’re not going anywhere yet! This will help keep them in a routine for back-to-school. 

Check out my post “How to Get Out the Door on Time with Kids” for more great tips!

Examples of afternoon time management you can start now: 

  1. Hold a consistent block of time in the afternoon that will translate well to “after school” time. This might mean an afternoon snack followed by workbooks, attempting to assimilate homework. 
  2. If kids have afternoon activities, treat the experience as if it’s after school. Make sure they have some downtime before and/or after and are not rushed into things. This will help keep the same peaceful transitional feeling when school is back in session. 

Examples of evening/bedtime time management you can start now: 

  1. As with wake times, if you’ve gotten off your usual bedtime routine now is the time to bring it back. A short and sweet bedtime routine is all you need to get back in the groove.  
  2. Start to say “no” to late-night events or plans that will take kids past a usual bedtime. It can be tempting to squeeze a few more in before school starts, but it will be better for their little bodies to adjust in the long run. 

In most of these examples, the take-home message is consistency. Consistency is what builds routines. And building these routines will make for a smoother transition for everyone. 

Having solid morning, afternoon, and evening blocks in your day can provide a predictable and calming presence in your household.  

Organization for back-to-school

Do you strive for maximum organization? Or do you go with the flow until you find what works? Whatever your style is, here are some examples of home organization systems that you can put into practice now before the rush of back to school.  

  1. Dressing station. If your child has trouble picking out appropriate outfits for the weather or season, consider implementing a dressing station. I think these work best with hanging closet organizers for visualization purposes. They even have some with the days of the week on them. On Sunday nights, help your child pick out their outfits for the entire week.  (See Amazon links below)
  2. Backpack station. Are you recalling last year when your kids came in and dumped their backpacks right at the door and walked away? It’s time to fix that. Create a station in your home where backpacks can live peacefully. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy: a bench, hooks by your shoes, a large basket on the floor…as long as your kids can access the area.  
  3. Paperwork and artwork. It amazes me how much paper and artwork come home with children daily. Permission slips, calendars, schoolwork, art projects, and so much more. Start implementing some sort of system now so you know where everything will go. For example, permission slips can get signed right away and back into the backpack (in the backpack station!), artwork can go in a bin for sorting through later, and calendars and other informational papers get clipped on the refrigerator or in a paper tray on your desk.  

Examples of Hanging Organizers for smoother morning routines

Lunches or Meal prep for back-to-school

When my son first started full-day school, lunch prep was extremely intimidating to me. I remember sitting down and making lists of foods he would eat, trying different portable recipes, and considering if he could open his containers by himself.  

Until I got into a groove, I didn’t realize how beneficial it was to have actual systems in place around making lunches and meal prep!

  1. Formulate lunches. This sounds silly but it helps so much! Break your child’s lunch down into elements: main, veggie, fruit, and snacks. Have a couple of go-to options for each. For example, we switch between sandwiches and bagels with cream cheese for our mains. The second you start to get fancy or creative with school lunches, you invite unnecessary stress into your life. Make sure your shopping list always includes your lunchtime staples!  
  2. Lunch station in fridge and pantry. Another way to help the school lunch situation is to have dedicated stations in your fridge and pantry for all your school lunch staples. Have a basket in the pantry where you keep all the snacks. Put a fancy container in the fridge and fill it with easy-to-grab fruits, veggies, cheese sticks, and yogurt. This way when you’re packing lunches you can grab just the basket you need and not make trips in and out of the pantry or fridge. It also makes it easier to see when you’re running low on your staples. 
  3. Prep and freeze ahead. Anything you can prep ahead of time, do it. I cream cheese a pack of 12 mini bagels all at once and keep them in a freezer bag. I do the same with homemade uncrustable sandwiches. You can chop up several carrots and put them in a jar with water so they last the whole week. Halve the entire bag of grapes you just bought and put them in a bowl you can scoop from. Wash and cut off strawberry tops on Sunday night so they are ready to go every morning. Do as much lunch prep as you can do BEFORE you need it and it will make things go oh-so-smoothly.  

Here is my post on zero-waste lunches for more ideas!

Finding balance for the back-to-school season

Everything seems to happen at once in August and September. Finding balance among transitions seems impossible. But there are small steps we can take to help. I’ll give you three teasers, but you’re going to have to stay tuned for a later post for the rest!

Tip #1: Be clear with your priorities. This could be maintaining family dinners, having downtime every day, or simply not forgetting a child at an activity. Name it and then make it your focal point of this season. 

Tip #2: Simplify as much as you can. Simplify schedules, simplify meals, simplify your closet. The more you simplify, the less you have to do/worry/clean. 

Tip #3: Say no. Now is not the season to take on all the things. Saying “no” is okay. You can say “yes” to things when they won’t suck your sanity. Or keep saying “no” – your choice!

Organization and Routines for Back-to-School

Organization and Routines for Back-to-School

Whew! That was a lot. Let’s recap real quick:

What are your back-to-school worries/stressors? The big ones I covered include time management, organization, lunch prep, and finding balance. 

What outcome do you want and what will it take to get there? Use tools such as routines, stations, systems, and crystal-clear priorities.  

Make sure you subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss the next back-to-school post!

More back-to-school related posts: 

How to be Eco-Friendly at School
How to Find Sustainable and Eco-Friendly School Supplies
How to Get Out the Door on Time with Kids
How to Pack a Zero-Waste School Lunch
DIY Reusable Snack Bag Tutorial


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