Back to school. Those three little words mean so many different things to so many people. For some, it signifies the beginning of the next ‘grown up’ chapter. For others, it’s a jarring return to reality after a summer of adventure and fun. And for still others, it means finding a new routine for getting out the door on time and the organizational hurdles that come with homework and school projects and extracurricular activities. Today I’m sharing 7 of my favorite back to school organization tips and a SOURCE LIST of my favorite organizational products.
Next week, my two oldest start elementary school and the following week, my middle two go back to preschool. Different routines, but similar moving parts. I’m NOT an expert, but I have field tested quite a few systems, and I wanted to share some of the organizational strategies and products that have helped us keep our sanity around here!
Before School Organization
The kids make their own lunch. Lunchboxes all live in a basket (source list at the end of the post) and I have their lunch fixings prearranged for them to help themselves. I wrote a post about it last fall and this system is STILL in place and works great for us.
Our ‘mudroom’ is KEY. I only had one wall with which to work, so I hung up a crap ton of hooks, brought in a salvaged cupboard and made a custom bench with five wheely drawers to store everyone’s shoes. Here’s why this system works: there is more than enough room for everyone to hang their coats/ backpacks and every child has their own spot for shoes. If you don’t have a wall or anyway to bring in a custom piece, then grab a basket for each child and maybe a few standing coat racks! The key is to have a system in place so that 12 coats aren’t on the same hook and 16 pairs of shoes aren’t in the same basket… that’s when it gets complicated and tricky for children to help themselves and you’re racing to the bus with one shoe missing.
After School Organization
Our kitchen command center is our lifesaver. There are 4 pockets that I use to organize paperwork. I *try* to put time sensitive papers in one pocket, business-type papers in a second, kids stuff to be filed in the third, and then the 4th inevitably becomes the “misc” pocket. I love a good Misc. area. (I had one in the old house too… that one’s made the circuit around Pinterest!)
I know that lots of folks now have stainless steel refrigerators, but I LOVE having an old school magnetic surface in our kitchen. Something about having the piece of paper RIGHT THERE UNDER MY NOSE makes me feel better than I will actually attend to it! If you DON’T have magnets, then a cork board is the next best thing. I LOVE the cork board I made for our command center. It’s high enough that the kids can’t fool around, but easily accessible for things that require action.
One of the ways I know school is back in session, is that every afternoon, we unpack half a dozen “masterpieces” from the backpacks. And by masterpiece, I mean scrap paper with scribbles and 2 words. Basically anything with the kids’ fingerprints on it CANNOT BE THROWN OUT, MUMMY! Rather than fight them, we have this system in our playroom. It can hold close to 6000 pieces of paper which means I buy myself time before said masterpieces hit the trash.
And for the real deal masterpieces… I finally bit the bullet and bought a $20 old metal file cabinet. It WAS hideous, but I gave it an easy makeover and now it fits in a little better to our more formal office area.
Lots of the organization I have in place around our house isn’t specific to one project… it’s just stuff I’ve learned to love over the years. I have lots of individual storage LOVES and I tried to bring them all together so you could see what keeps my organizational sanity… just click on each image for the source! (Affiliate links included for your convenience)