Back-to-school season is officially upon us! After a fun-filled summer break, it’s back to the rise and grind of the school year and the daily rush we parents know all too well.
You know the rush I’m talking about: the homework help, sports practices, extra tutoring sessions, after-school clubs, weekend activities, morning lunch packing, Sunday resets, and somehow finding time in between all that to actually do the daily mom tasks like our own personal work and homemaking.
But what if I told you there are ways to tackle this daily rush with ease? So you’re not walking around constantly feeling like your mom brain is going to explode, or wondering, “What do we have going on tomorrow?”
It might seem like a stretch to say that I’ve mastered this daily mom grind in the back-to-school season. But, I really feel like I have. I thrive on planning and organization. I love finding ways to help keep my home and family organized, running efficiently, and not leaving me feeling like I’m burning both ends of my “mom-candle.” These techniques especially work well during the busy back-to-school season in the fall. They also work to help keep us organized all year long.
Today I’m happy to share these tips with you to help make your back-to-school transition smoother, and keep it running smooth all year long!
Tip #1: Create a family calendar.
There’s a reason I made this #1. This step is absolutely paramount to your family’s organizational success. This is how you and everyone else in the household will always know what is happening, and on what day.
It needs to be in a place where everyone in the family can see it clearly. This could be in the kitchen, mudroom, or pantry. It could also be on the fridge, on your TV if you can upload photos to it, in the home office space where you all do homework nightly, etc. In my house it’s on a magnetized acrylic board I ordered on Etsy (linked in the next paragraph!), and it sits on our fridge where we can all easily see it when needed.
I have our fridge calendar set up monthly and weekly. We can see what we have going on that month collectively, as well as what’s happening each week specifically. There’s also a spot for a weekly dinner menu so that nobody has to ask me daily what’s for dinner. This also serves to hold me accountable to meal plan at the beginning of the week.
Which brings me to my next point . . .
Tip #2: Plan your meals and grocery list at the beginning of every week.
I hate grocery shopping. But we know it’s one of those tasks that has to be done, basically for no other reason than our families have to eat, and us parents have been given the legal responsibility to feed them. So to mitigate my annoyance and make it as easy as possible for myself, I plan out all of our meals on Sunday or Monday morning and make a grocery list to go along with it for every single meal.
This means breakfast, school lunches, dinners, snacks, etc. It all gets written down on the list so that I can assess what needs to be shopped for. I then only have to do one or two major grocery trips/orders per week.
Step #2 of this is making sure to prep all the produce in advance.
Nobody wants to actually be washing and chopping veggies at 6:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m. I do it all on Monday. When I bring the groceries home I make sure it’s all washed, chopped, and ready to go for the week. This way we can grab what we need quickly. Dinner prep is half done, and we can easily pack lunches. Any on-the-go snacks we might need as we’re out the door to practices and stuff are also ready.
I’ve seen people gather all the meal ingredients and put them in labeled containers for each day in the fridge. When it’s time to cook dinner, all of the ingredients needed are already in the bin.
Tip #3: Have a separate “Mom Calendar” just for you.
If you read my post about using a digital planner for moms, then you know I’m a huge fan of the “Mom Planner” in general, but especially a digital planner since everything you need can be easily accessed on your phone.
But this “Mom Planner/Calendar” doesn’t have to be a digital one at all. It can be in the form of a Google or iPhone Calendar, or a tiny paper calendar you keep in your purse/wallet, a notebook planner, etc. But, you absolutely need a place that you can access yourself to know all the stuff that’s going on.
Step #2 of this (and this is the most paramount): at the beginning of the school year, take your kids’ school calendar and input EVERYTHING in your mom planner—from September all the way through June.
This is something I’ve been doing for years. I really believe it is the source of my relaxation when it comes to wondering what my kids have going on at school at any given moment. It’s how I keep track of those half days, days off, school breaks, conferences, etc. Any time I need it, I can easily access and use this information to make appointments and plan vacations. Or, if I’m simply wondering when the next half day is—which more often than not, I forget until the day before.
Tip #4: Time block your time.
This is another method I use to plan out my day. It especially comes in handy once school starts and we’re back to our busier regularly scheduled busy programming. Using whichever planner I have, I’ll time block different sections of my day so that I can get all the tasks that I need to get done, done. This helps me realistically gauge how long each task will actually take, and prioritize those that need to get done ASAP.
So, for example: if we have basketball practice in the evening that day for three hours, I know that I can’t tell myself, “I’ll fold laundry tonight,” since I can clearly see there’s no time to get that done then. I’ll also know my dinner prep has to take place earlier in the day before practice. This way, I’m never rushing to get anything done. And, I’m not behind on most tasks, as I’ve assigned a realistic time frame to each one.
Tip #5: Create a family command center for all the “stuff.”
You know the “stuff”: papers that have been graded, mail to be sorted, library books just brought in, etc. Assign and label each kid their own bin for school papers, as well as a general school bin for any notes from school you need to read and get through. This way, you always know where the important papers are. And, your house is not flooded with them (which, as we all know too well, happens often).
I guarantee you’ll feel less overwhelmed using these tips. The back-to-school season can be a busy one, and one that puts us back into the busier daily grind. But these methods have been a game-changer in my household once I started implementing them. Believe it or not though, that’s why now I also look forward to the kids going back to school and our busier schedules resuming. It means that our home and family will be better organized once again!