For most kids, school starts back up in a few weeks, and the beginning of August is the perfect time to not only get your kids prepped for the school year but yourself too.
To help make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible, here is a list of back-to-school time management tips for parents.
1. Get Your Ducks in a Row
Even if your child is returning to the same school, there is usually necessary paperwork and registration forms that need to be completed. Take time before school starts to make sure you have all these required forms and accounts completed and setup. Some areas to consider are, after-school care, returning or new student forms, health forms, registrations for extracurricular activities, transportation forms, PTA or PTO forms, and reloading your lunch account with money.
2. Out with the Old, In with the New
You don’t want to send your kid off to school in high-waters, so be sure to go through their closet and get rid of tattered and outgrown clothing and shoes. Take the time to go through everything: shoes, socks, undies, pants, pajamas, dresses, and shirts. It may take a couple of hours, but you’ll be able to free up new closet and drawer space, making it easier to find things.
Once everything is cleaned out, take a full inventory of what you have enough of and what items need to be replaced and restocked. You can also sell these old clothes on a site like thredUP and use the money that you earn to buy like-new clothing from them as well. For a list of more sites where you can sell used clothing, check out this post.
3. Shop for Back-To-School Supplies
Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase back-to-school supplies. If you wait, you will find that stores are sold out of popular items and you’ll have to search harder and longer to find what you need. When you do go out to purchase supplies, be sure you have your class list in hand. Also, take the time to stock up. Most stores have weekly sales where you can purchase supplies for pennies. By stocking up now, not only will it save you big time money later, but you will be prepared for when your child needs stuff in the middle of the school year.
4. Start Implementing a Back-To-School Routine
To be fully prepared, give yourself a couple of test run days. By doing this, you’ll know exactly how long it takes you to get out of the house, how long it takes you to walk to the bus stop, or how long it takes you to drive to school. Don’t forget to do a trial run of your new nighttime routine too – you may be surprised at how early your child needs to go to bed so that they are refreshed and ready to go in the early morning hours.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Earlier wake and bedtime.
- Make a checklist for your children with a morning and after school routine. Be sure to practice this with them.
- Assign “school work”. Not only will this be a great review, but it will also get them back into the habit of doing homework.
5. Make a Schedule of Extracurricular Activities
Don’t forget about extracurricular activities. Be sure to fill out the appropriate paperwork, schedule those sports physicals, and write down all the activities in your family calendar and in your personal day planner.
Also, get into the habit of meal planning, so on those crazy busy days, you don’t end up at the drive-through. Remember to plan for lunches and breakfast to ensure you have everything on hand for the week.
Here are some make-ahead breakfast recipes, that are perfect for eating in the car or on the bus.
For dinner, if you struggle with menu planning, try a service like HelloFresh or Blue Apron. These services send you all of the fresh ingredients to make a few yummy and healthy recipes. It not only saves you a trip to the grocery store, but it also cuts down on time to have to spend creating a menu for the week.
6. Arrange for After-School Care if Needed
Depending on your work situation and the age of your kids, you may need to apply for after-school care or rearrange your work hours. I suggest adding all of the days that your child has off of school to your business calendar. This will allow you to plan ahead for what days you can schedule meetings and important calls, and when you may need to take the day off. By knowing your child’s schedule in advance, it will save you the headache of rearranging your schedule at the last minute. It’s also a good time to look at alternative care options if you know that your work schedule isn’t flexible.
7. Create a Dedicated Space for Homework and Supplies
Establish a place by the door to keep backpacks and other things you need to grab as you are running out the door in the morning. Put items there the night before. In the same token, create a dedicated space for your child to do their homework. Stock it with supplies for the kids, but also establish an area where you will keep important school papers specifically that you need to go through.
8. Start Early
If you’re new to the school routine, don’t even try to get ready at the same time you’re trying to get your kids ready — it’s total chaos! Get into the habit of getting up before everyone else and get yourself ready for the day. Program the coffee maker the night before, so when you wake up you’ll have freshly brewed coffee waiting for you. Then when your kiddos get up, you can concentrate on getting them out the door and not worry about getting yourself ready as well.
These are just some of the things you can do now to make the transition back to school a smoother one. I recommend implementing a back-to-school schedule/routine at least two weeks before school starts.
Here are Some More Back-To-School Time Management Tips
Get Stuff Ready the Night Before
- Layout outfits.
- Set up the coffee pot.
- Make sure backpacks are packed and ready to go (the only thing you should need to add to them in the morning is lunch).
- Pre-make lunches and have them ready in the fridge.
- Prepare the on-the-go breakfasts.
- Look over your to-do list for the next day. Double-check to make sure the kids have their stuff ready for any after-school activities.
Buy Snacks in Bulk
Instead of spending a ton of money on individual snack packs, buy snacks in bulk. On Sundays divide them up into small lunch size portions. Keep the made-up baggies in a designated place when making lunches just grab a bag and toss into the lunchbox.
Get Into a Routine
Create a daily routine for your kids and yourself. Make it a habit of going through the kid’s backpacks every day and take action on the papers that came home immediately. Clean out their lunch box and remove any unwanted paper, trash, and junk from the bottom of their backpacks (how do these things get so dirty)?!
Keep it Visible
Mark any important dates such as field trips, when you might need to bring cupcakes to school, themed days, parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings, doctor and dentist appointments, and extracurricular activities on your calendar. Color coding the various activities can be a great way to stay organized.
Have a Backup Plan for Breakfast
Always keep a supply of easy breakfast meals on hand that you can grab and go when time is running short. Granola bars, cereals, muffins, frozen egg sandwiches, frozen waffles, and yogurt are just a few ideas. Even if you’re the most organized mom there will be days that you have complete meltdown mornings.
Reevaluate Your Efforts
A couple of weeks into the school year, reevaluate how things are going and make modifications as needed.
Conclusion: Back-To-School Time Management Tips
Remember a little bit of planning, and solid routines will go a long way in helping you and your children have a smooth school year.
How do you prepare for back-to-school time? Do you have any helpful back-to-school time management tips for parents? Drop us a comment below; we’d love to hear from you.
Originally published August 25, 2010. Content updated in August 2017.
Jennifer Ascher is a Professional Organizer and Owner of Organizing Without Limits in Oakland County, MI. She started the company because of her sheer passion for organizing (some have even called her an Organizing Geek) and helping other people. As a busy work at home mom with two boys and being actively involved in various activities, she understands the importance of getting and staying organized, as well as efficient time management.