Now that we’re in the middle of July, my thoughts are starting to turn to the new school year. (Wait—wasn’t the last day of school just the other day?) My kids couldn’t understand why I was so excited about the last day of school, even after I exclaimed, “As long as you’re in school, I’m in school too!” And now, all of us are trepidatiously eyeing the calendar as we plow through July at alarming speed.
The upcoming school year is a momentous one in our house—my daughter is starting middle school! I think I’m more nervous about it than she is, actually. More than anything, I’m nervous about keeping up with everything. You see, I’m notoriously disorganized—but with a rising second grader, a rising sixth grader, and the corresponding uptick in homework and after-school activities, I’ve got to get a system that works under my belt! So this week, I’m sharing a few back-to-school organizing tips I’ve found, along with some ideas for a fun back-to-school celebration.
Man Your Stations!
When my kiddos were in kindergarten, their favorite activity was to go around to the “centers,” like the pretend play center with a pint-size house, the sand or play dough table, or the little reading nook in the corner.
There’s something so handy about a self-contained “center” that has everything you’d need right there in one place for whatever activity you’re doing. They’re a lifesaver for busy households!
Create easy-to-reach snack stations that have pre-portioned, Mom-approved snacks within your kiddos’ reach. No more rummaging around for an after-school snack! We have a snack station in our pantry, and my kids know that they already have permission to grab a snack from the basket when they need one. And because I take individual portions (like granola bars or snack-size bags of crackers) out of the larger boxes they’re sold in to display in our snack station, I can tell at a glance which snacks I need to replenish at the grocery store!
Our kids haven’t graduated to doing homework in their rooms yet; instead, I’ve always preferred to have them tackle homework at the kitchen table, so I can sit with them and help out when I need to. Of course, we usually spend part of our homework time hunting for that box of crayons that I know I just saw this morning, or the scissors that my daughter borrowed for an art project and thought she’d put back in my craft room.
To solve the problem, I think this year I’ll put together a rolling homework station, like this one I saw online. Made from a simple, thrifted rolling cart, a station like this would have everything we’d need for homework and school projects, organized and ready to go. I could simply roll it out after school and roll it back into the pantry or a nearby closet when the homework’s all done.
Like many of you, I’m a busy mom, and that means my purse (ginormous tote bag, really) is my portable command center. But I’m always managing to misplace some paper or piece of information I need; and I’m old-fashioned in that I like to actually write things down on a calendar or notepad rather than type it into my phone.
Right now, Tuesday Morning has a fantastic binder/organizer that I know is the answer to my organization problems! This comprehensive, one-stop organizer for today’s busiest moms is a great way to organize all your children’s school activities, achievements, certificates, appointments, and more!
Check out the separate section for school contacts! I’ll have two different schools to keep up with this year, so I know that will come in handy.
This all-in-one sturdy and attractive keepsake binder also includes a month-at-a-glance planner and separate sections for medical information, grades and testing scores, reports and awards, and a six-pocket accordion file folder for all those miscellaneous flyers and notes that come home from school. With this organizer, I am very optimistic that my disorganized days are (mostly) behind me! Be sure to visit Tuesday Morning to pick one up for yourself before they’re gone!
Breakfast and Lunch Ideas
I’ve seen several bloggers take the snack station idea a step further and put together lunch packing stations—I’ll be adding that to my list of “things to do to make school mornings more pleasant.” My kids are pretty picky eaters, so I’m always on the lookout for new and creative breakfast and lunch ideas. I’ve put a few ideas on our Back to School Pinterest board, so if you’re looking for something besides PB&J for your kiddos, be sure to check it out!
Back to School Breakfast
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then breakfast on the very first day of school must be extra important! Why not take the time to set up a special surprise for your kids on their first day of school?
Cheerful flowers and a vase full of brand-new pencils make a fun and simple table setting.
Create a little place setting with a pencil box instead of a plate! Or fill the pencil box with a few special personalized supplies (and a surprise or two) that your child can keep in his or her backpack.
If your kids ride the bus, get together with your neighbors to plan a grab-and-go breakfast bar at the bus stop for the first day of school! I think this is one of the most fun ideas I’ve come across—and with all the parents pitching in, it’s a little easier on everyone! The parents that put together this breakfast also had little brown paper favor bags for each student, filled with pencils and erasers and other fun little treats.
We’ve got so many more ideas to help you say bye to summer and hello to the new school year on our Back to School Pinterest board, including ideas for last-hurrah backyard parties and sleepovers, tips for those milestone school years (kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college), locker and dorm room décor suggestions, and more!
In the meantime, enjoy these last few weeks of summer freedom—I know I will!