Tips for Getting Back-to-School on the Right Track

How many of you have a goal to stay organized this school year?  We thought you would enjoy this article from the Parent Talk newsletter archives highlighting some great ways to stay ahead of the back to school business. 

By Marilyn Cruickshank of Creative Simplicity Professional Organizing
It sneaks up on us every year…time passes quickly from summer fun and lazy days to preparing children for the start of the school year. With the right tools and some advance preparation, both the morning routine and back-to-school can be turned into a more positive and even enjoyable time. Don’t forget to include your children in the process of planning for your daily routines, asking them for their input and ideas, as they just might surprise you!

As a Mom and professional organizer here are a few tried and true tips for getting back-to-school on the right track…

#1 – Get Ready in Advance
You’ve probably heard it before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. Taking some time the night before to prepare for the coming day can work wonders. Be sure all backpacks and bags are packed, snacks chosen, lunches prepared, showers and baths taken, clothes chosen and set out. Don’t forget to pair the shoes – one lost shoe can be the cause of a lot of morning commotion! And, be sure to let your children help.

#2 – Establish/Re-establish Routines
Create easy-to-follow routines for the crucial morning, mealtime and bedtime. Implementing these a few days or even weeks before school begins is beneficial. At bedtime, baths, brushing teeth, pjs, chat time and story time, in the same order each day, provides structure and consistency. If possible, keep mealtimes and bedtimes at the same time each night. In the mornings, consider having kids make a chart or checklist of items to follow – bathroom, breakfast, brushing teeth, dressed, backpack and GO!
#3 – Choose a Drop Zone
Select a designated location or ‘drop zone’ in your home for backpacks, lunch boxes and any other items going to and from school each day. Decide who will be emptying and refilling these to ensure that any items needing to return to school actually get there.
#4 – Centralize Management
Choose one location in your home to manage incoming paper and handle all scheduling. You’ll need a master calendar and a place to sort your papers, as the volume increases with back-to-school. Incoming school papers, including permission slips, medical forms, and notices, but also invitations, play dates, dance lessons, sports schedules, doctors appointments…you name it.
#5 – Create a Snack/Lunch Zone
Store all of your lunch making supplies in one area of your kitchen – napkins, utensils, sandwich bags, water bottles, thermoses, small snacks. This gives you quick access to all the supplies you need each day.
#6 – Don’t Forget to Prepare for After School
As soon as school starts, so do the sports and activity schedules. Get all the gear purchased, organized and tried on ahead of time, and identify and set up a sports/activity center/area.
#7 – Put your Freezer to Work
Freeze a few dinners for the first week of school. This way meal preparation won’t add to the hectic nature of the start of school and you can focus more time on the kids.
#8 – Be a Good Example
And finally, remember to set a good example for your children. Be sure to keep items like your handbag, keys, and cell phone in a designated location, so getting out the door is as easy as ‘grab and go.’ And, as parents, we all know to ‘expect the unexpected.’ Try to build some extra time into each morning.

About the Author
Marilyn Cruickshank is a professional organizer and owner of Creative Simplicity Professional Organizing, based in Needham. She works with families and busy professionals, providing them with tools, techniques and systems to become better organized. You can contact her at or 781-453-3906. 


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