Getting ready for a new school year can be exciting – a fresh start with new teachers, classmates and skills to learn. But switching from summer-mode to having a full-on schedule can also be quite overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Walmart to bring you some simple organization tips that you can put into action right now, so when school begins, you’ll be more than ready – no matter the situation.
Put these steps in motion and you’ll not only find it easier to transition to your back-to-school schedule, but you’ll be more organized for the entire school year. That means less frustration and unnecessary stress, which certainly gets an A+ in our book!
PIN for when you want to get organized for back-to-school!
CLEAN THE CLOSETS
Before you head to the store (or hop online) to go back-to-school shopping, go through your child’s closet and any dresser drawers to make sure they’re organized.
Make a pile of any outgrown clothes to store away until you can hand-them-down to your younger kids, or donate them.
It’s a good idea to get your child involved in the process so they can try on anything you might be unsure about – it’s crazy how much they can grow over the summer months! It will also teach them the process, so as they get older, they can eventually do it all by themselves.
Once you’ve gone through everything, take an inventory of what items your child has, and note where you need to fill in the holes with new purchases.
ONE-STOP BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING
We love getting all of our back-to-school shopping done with just one store visit or online order. It’s such a time (and sanity!) saver to cross everything off your list all at once – from school supplies to new clothes.
Our go-to for back-to-school shopping has always been Walmart – their selection, styles and incredibly low prices are hard to beat.
With our current situation, they also make it super convenient to shop. They have free delivery options, plus shopping via their app, website or in-store where they’ve prioritized customer safety.
Whether you decide to shop in-store or online, make sure your kids are still involved in the process. Ours found everything they needed (and more!), with all the latest trends at Walmart, for a great price. It made them so excited and ready to start the school year.
Grab a list of the required/recommended school supplies from your school and take it with you while you shop. It will help keep you (and more importantly, your kids!) on track, and you can cross off items as you work through the store, or your online order.
If you see a great deal on a much-used supply (think markers, glue sticks, etc.), grab a few extra to have in stock for when they inevitably run low.
SELECT OUTFITS FOR THE FIRST WEEK
Once you’ve completed your back-to-school shopping, work with your child (or have them do this independently depending on their age) to plan out their “First Day” outfit, and ideally several more to cover the entire first week back.
We suggest labeling outfits for each day with a simple sticky-note and placing them in a drawer, or using one of these cool hanging organizers. Include any accessories like socks, hair bows or jewelry.
Just make sure you double check the weather forecast a few days before school starts to ensure you’ve planned appropriate clothing and footwear each day.
This will not only help your child get ready faster in the morning, but can stop any potential struggle/battles over what they can or cannot wear to school.
The first week can be stressful and hectic for all involved, so the more you can do to plan ahead, the better.
PREP EXTRA-CURRICULAR/SPORTS BAGS FOR ANY AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
If your children are also starting extra-curricular activities, organize their equipment and make sure you don’t need to order anything in the next size up. As kids grow, they’ll need larger equipment like soccer/basketballs, baseball bats/gloves, plus helmets and footwear like cleats or dance shoes which are usually out-grown from season to season.
We love the idea of printing out a photo of what your child will need for each after-school activity so they can reference it and pack up their own activity bags. Even the youngest kids can match-up items and think it’s so fun!
CREATE A FUNCTIONAL ENTRY SPACE
School comes with lots of clutter – backpacks, papers, coats, shoes, hats/gloves – so make sure you have a functional entry space for containing the chaos.
Having a designated spot for each child’s backpack and belongings will make it easier for them to keep everything neat.
Even if you don’t have a lot of space, a few hooks on the wall for backpacks and coats with a simple milk crate underneath for shoes can have a big impact!
CREATE A FAMILY CALENDAR/COMMAND CENTER
Once school and activities are in full swing, it’s more important than ever to keep everyone in your family on the same page. Setting up a large calendar in an often-viewed space (think kitchen or mudroom) can help you keep track of everyone’s schedule, activities (even if it’s just Zoom calls!) and holidays.
We suggest using a different colored marker for each family member, so it’s easy for them to take a quick look at what they have going on that day.
CREATE IN/OUT PARENT BINS
There’s always a plethora of school paperwork and updates that need to get safely into your hands, especially at the beginning of the school year.
Consider setting up some in and out bins where your kids can drop off any papers that need to be signed or seen by a parent.
You can then go through them each night, and put any that need to be returned to school in the “out” bin, ready for your kids to pick up in the morning and pack in their backpacks. With a little practice, this can be an extremely effective method that can be used all the way through high school!
ORGANIZE MEDICAL RECORDS
Ask your school if there are any medical forms or allergy-related documents that need completing. Make sure your child is up-to-date on their immunizations and inquire with sports teams/after-school activities if they need your child’s latest physical results.
Getting all this paperwork completed and out of the way now, will make that first week back at school so much easier.
SET-UP A HOMEWORK OR HOMESCHOOL AREA
Whether you’re homeschooling, sending to school, or doing some sort of hybrid, your kids will need a designated area to do their school/home work.
First, find a room or space in your home that works for your child. Depending on their age and how much assistance they require, this spot could be in a communal room (think kitchen or family room) or at a desk in their own room.
Hang up a cork, magnetic or pin board for your kids to put papers, reminders and a homework calendar. This is a space that should be within reach of their desk or work area so they can easily add/remove important items on a regular basis.
The ultimate goal is to get them working in a proper set-up with a table and chair instead of working from their lap – this way they establish good habits, can properly work on their handwriting and have room to spread out all their materials.
If finding a dedicated desk space isn’t possible, consider making your own mobile supply station with a simple cart on wheels that can be easily moved in and out of the space (like the kitchen table) when it’s homework time.
RELATED: How to Create the Ultimate Homework Station
DISCUSS HOMEWORK ROUTINE
It’s always a good idea to be on the same page about when your child plans to do their homework. So why not lay the ground rules now before the stresses of school set in.
Talk to your child about your expectations, and discuss when the best time will be – it could be as soon as they come home after a snack, after a certain amount of “down” time, or after dinner. You can even decide on things that can’t be done (watching TV, having devices, etc.) until homework is complete.
CREATE AN ORGANIZED LUNCH PREP STATION
Packing school lunches is never a favorite task, especially with the morning rush. To help, establish a “Lunch Prep” area in your kitchen that has everything you’ll need in one place. It can be a cupboard, drawer, shelf or even a Rubbermaid container.
Include all the necessities you need like your Lunch Boxes, Thermos, small snack baggies or containers, cutting board, kid friendly knives, water bottles, utensils and napkins.
For older kids have them practice making their own lunches in the days leading up to school. Our free printable Lunch Planner can help!
If your child is a Peanut Butter & Jelly lover, make and freeze PBJ sandwiches ahead of time. Toss one in their lunch bag in the morning and it will be defrosted by lunch time!
…AND DO SOME SNACK PREP
To make lunch packing even easier, make pre-portioned sides and snacks ready to grab in your pantry and fridge.
For the pantry, we usually keep trail mix, crackers, popcorn, granola bars, and raisins at hand, and in the fridge we aim to always have a selection of pre-cut carrot sticks, melon, grapes, berries, clementine’s or mandarins, snap peas, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks and yogurt in stock. Try and keep them in the bottom section of your fridge so they can easily be reached by your kids.
With school and activities keeping everyone busy, it’s always more of a challenge to get a home cooked meal on the table. To give yourself a night off, start doubling your dinner recipes now so you can freeze leftover family-sized portions for those school nights where you just can’t muster the energy to cook.
To make your morning routine a little easier, consider making a big batch of muffins, pumpkin bread or our easy banana pancakes that can be easily frozen. You could even pre-make some smoothie freezer packs that you can simply pop into a blender for a quick and healthy breakfast.
SHIFT YOUR SCHEDULE
Summer days are usually more unscheduled and unstructured for our children – once school starts they’ll no longer be able to sleep in, stay up as late, or eat 24/7!
As the start of school creeps up, gradually move their bedtime earlier, and if necessary, wake-up time a little earlier too. This will ensure you don’t have a very cranky child come the first day of school!
A week or so before school starts, do a run-through of your morning routine, including getting dressed, having breakfast and packing up. This will be beneficial for you both as you’ll be able to work out any potential issues and get comfortable with the schedule.
Putting these simple steps and strategies into action now will ultimately save you a lot of time and anxiety come the start of the school year. Happy organizing!
Thanks again to our sponsor, Walmart, for having everything we need to feel confident that we’re sending our kids back to school at their very best. However our kids go back, Walmart has our back with the fashions our kids want at low prices + easy and stress-free ways to shop.