Tips to help stay organized during back-to-school time

Use these tips to help get and keep your family organized during busy back-to-school time.

Thinking through your family routine can help as kids go back to school.
Thinking through your family routine can help as kids go back to school.

Back to school is a fun but hectic time for many families. It can be hard to get back into a routine after a summer filled with a less busy schedule. Thinking through your family’s routine can help you prepare an environment that supports everyone keeping organized and ready to tackle the next day.

Consider these suggestions from Michigan State University Extension to help you think about ways to keep your family organized.

Think about what your family does when they walk through the door. Does everyone drop their bags at the front entrance? Are there shoes all over the place? Consider creating a drop zone. This is a place where everyone has their own space for things like backpacks, shoes, keys and papers. This area can be simple or elaborate depending on what you need. Think about using hooks that kids can reach or baskets they can keep their items contained in.

What about snack time? Will kids grab a quick snack before heading outside to play or do homework? Have a snack bin full of healthy snacks that are all OK for kids to eat. Think about including things like fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter or table or designate a drawer or basket in the refrigerator that might have things like individual servings sizes of applesauce, carrots, celery or cheese sticks.

Homework to do? Think about where kids will work on homework. Will they sit at the kitchen table as a group and work on things or does it make more sense to have a separate table or area for kids to work on homework where there aren’t distractions? Stock this area with things like pencils, paper, pens or other items that kids might need while working on homework.

Hard to keep it all straight? Consider putting up a visible reminder of what is happening, like a family calendar. Showing who has what happening can help keep everyone organized and know what they need to get around for the next day. For young children, put a picture schedule of what they need to do when they get up in the morning, what they do when they get home and what they do before bedtime. This can help them remember what they need to do and when they need to do it.

What is needed for the next day? Make mornings a little less hectic by building time into the evening routine of getting things ready for the next day. Have kids think about what they need for the next day – do they need gym clothes or special items for school? Have them pack all of those things either in their backpack or a separate bag and set everything in the drop zone for the next day. If everything is ready to go, then everyone can grab everything and head out the door when it’s time to leave.

Taking lunches or buying lunches? You can pack lunches together as a family the night before so they are bagged and ready to grab out of the refrigerator in the morning. If kids will be buying lunch from school, be sure they have put their money in their backpack or another place where they can easily access it for the next day.

Don’t forget family time and down time! It can be easy to schedule lots of activities after school and into the evenings, but don’t forget to schedule some family time. This can be during dinner where everyone can talk about their day or consider going for a family walk or playing a game after homework is done. It’s also important to schedule intentional down time for kids and adults. This should b a time when kids can play, read or relax. Try and limit technology during this down time so eyes and brains get a rest and can unwind.  

Thinking through your daily routine can help you figure out how to keep things organized and easy for your family during the back to school rush. For more ideas about activities and articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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