Getting Organized: The Keys to a Stress-Free Back to School Week

It’s back to school time. Across the country schools are getting ready to welcome kids back (or already have, depending on where you live). Here are my tips to have your most organized, stress-free back to school week ever. And don’t worry! Even if your kids have already gone back, you can still use my tips to get organized and have a stress-free school year.

Wall organizing system from Pottery Barn

The School Station   An organized school year starts with an organized home. There’s a reason “Family Command Centers” are such popular posts on Pinterest. Having a dedicated place in your home where all family activities are tracked is key to staying on track. Every family is different, so you may have to play around with just how to organize things, but the ideal command center has all of the following elements:

  1. A large family calendar where all events, appointments, and practices for the month are tracked
  2. A small family calendar that highlights the current week’s schedule, including meals
  3. A cubby or hook for each child to place their backpacks, jackets, and any other accessories they need for each school day
  4. A wall file or clipboard where children can place important school papers that parents need to see (important dates, forms to be signed, etc)
  5. Located in a place where all family members can see and use it daily, usually the kitchen or mudroom

Once you have all of these elements in place, start adding days off, birthdays, doctor appointments, sports schedules, and any other scheduled events to the large family calendar. There are several ways to organize the calendar. You can create time blocks for each event or you can color code things based on which family member they apply to.

Check-In Time   Setting up the command center is just the first step. You also need to, as a family, set up a check-in time to go over each day. This can be in the evening over dinner, or maybe on Sunday afternoons before the start of the new school week.

What happens during check-in time? This is when you talk with your kids about the upcoming school day or week, go over homework and any papers that need to be signed, and review their schedules. Younger children can be guided through this with a backpack check after school each day or every Saturday morning, while older kids can be taught responsibility by adding their own appointments and practices to the weekly calendar. When the family is all working together, it makes being prepared for school that much easier.

Set the Rules   A command center only works if the entire family participates. Talk as a family about the kind of system that will work for everyone – a time block calendar vs a color coded one; a nightly “check-in” to go over the next day’s events vs a weekly family night.

Getting organized and staying organized are two totally different things. Whatever system you decide on, be sure the family sticks to it for one month. At the end of the month, analyze the system to see what is working and what isn’t. You may need to make a few adjustments here and there, but by the end of month two, you should be able to be prepared each morning for the new school day without any stress and rushing out the door.

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