Tips for Organizing Back-To-School

School supplies and notebook that says back to school

August, or “Dooms Day” as my son calls it, is upon us. It’s time for the kiddos to head back to school and for moms everywhere to figure out how the heck they’re going to keep everything organized. A new school year usually means new teachers, new schedules, and new challenges. Are you ready? I think I am… Ask me again in a few days {and bring wine}. All joking aside, going back to school is stressful for the whole family. Fortunately, we’ve found some helpful solutions to keep everyone organized, on schedule, and mostly sane:

Fridge Calendar

We have a family calendar on the fridge. Between my husband’s work schedule, our son’s and my school schedules, and various social activities, it’s very easy to overbook ourselves or miss important appointments. Having a calendar on the refrigerator keeps everyone in the house up to date on what’s going on. It’s easy to use and it’s in all our faces every day.

Recommendation: I highly recommend using a dry erase calendar like At-A-Glance. You need magnets to hold it on the fridge and I like to keep a fine-tipped dry erase marker in a magnetic clip right next to the calendar. We use the two month side, erasing a month when it’s done and replacing it with the following month, allowing us to see the current month and plan for the next.

Wipe-Off Board

In addition to the dry erase calendar, we have a dry erase board hanging in the hall between the kitchen and the main room. After having this up, I don’t think we could function without it. We write reminders, we leave instructions for pet sitters, we make lists for family projects — it’s been very useful for family communication.

Recommendation: I recommend getting a magnetic board around 2’ x 3’. You can even find wooden framed boards to make it look nice on the wall. We found a good one at Staples {similar to this one on Amazon}. You can use magnetic erasers that hold pens or store regular ones in a drawer near by.

Phone Apps

When I first got my smartphone, I went berserk downloading apps. The joke is true — they really do have an app for everything! I could talk apps for hours, but here are three that stood out as particularly good for organizing a family:

Google Calendar {Android, iPhone – free}: If you don’t already have a Google Account, get one now! It’s free, and it gives you access to some great online tools, including Google Calendar. The true beauty of Google Calendar is it’s ability to sync with other calendars and services like Outlook, iCal, and several different phone apps. I’ve synced mine with a holiday calendar, my son’s school event calendar, my homeowners association calendar, and with my husband’s calendar. Anytime something is added to any of these calendars, I see it on mine. Talk about keeping up on things! {I also use this master calendar to keep our fridge calendar up to date.}

Out of Milk {Android, iPhone – free}: Out of Milk is a shopping app that allows you to create shopping lists and share them with others. If you need to get in and out of the store quickly before picking the kids up from school, or if you need to send your spouse or teenager a quick list for the store, this app is essential! Plus, anyone you’ve shared the list with can add items. Features include:

  • Add items by type, voice, history {past items}, or scanning a bar code
  • Add prices and quantities {if desired}
  • Add things to your “pantry” to keep track of what you have
  • Search for local grocery deals
  • And most importantly, share lists and sync them!

Mint.com {Android, iPhone, and Windows phone – free}: Mint.com helps you keep track of all your spending and budgeting. You plug in your accounts {checking, savings, credit cards, etc.}, and all transactions are instantly recorded into your budgeted categories. You can see your entire financial situation at a glance!

A Place For Everything

One of the biggest culprits to school-time disorganization for our family is not having a designated spot for everything. Papers from the teacher pile up on the counter. Backpacks and lunch boxes get misplaced. Even email gets messy with all the messages from the school. The answer to staying organized is simple: make a spot. Hang up a hook for each child’s backpack, designate a box or file for school papers, create an email folder for school emails — make a space for everything and let everyone in the family know where it is. This advice may seem overly obvious, but unless you make the conscious effort to designate a spot for things and announce it {preferable with a bull horn} to the family, they are going to set their stuff wherever they please, which is usually on the couch, on the counter, or in the fridge {it’s happened}. Need some ideas for making a space? A quick search on Pinterest should get your creative ideas flowing {just remember not to get overwhelmed with Pinterest stress}!

What are some solutions you’ve found for keeping your family organized during the school year? Share with us in the comments below.

2 Responses to Tips for Organizing Back-To-School

  1. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth August 11, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Audra — these are GREAT recommendations! I’m DEFINITELY going to put a dry erase calendar up, and am downloading the Out of Milk app immediately!

    Our biggest school struggle is what the heck to pack for lunch some days — I need an app for that too! . . . or Pinterest!

    • Audra W August 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you, Elizabeth! I live by the almighty kitchen calendar. 🙂

      Unfortunately, school lunches are a bit of a weak spot for us. I had a picky eater for so long that I’m used to sending the same few things in every lunch. Now that he’s finally opening up his diet, I’m having to come up with new ideas too. Most school districts should have some helpful information about meals and snacks. For example, here’s the Littleton Public School district’s nutritional services page: http://lpsnutrition.com/ (copy and paste address).

      Of course, I couldn’t help searching, and there IS a school lunch app! http://lalalunchbox.com. This app helps parents and kids choose what to put in their lunches, and several people seem to love it. I do not see an Android version, but I’m sure there is something in the Android store too. You’ve got me curious. 🙂

Leave a Reply