Home is where the homework happens

We’ve kicked back, we’ve relaxed. We’ve vacationed, we’ve cooked out. We’ve swam, we’ve camped. But now, that’s all about to come to an end. In just a few weeks, it’s back to school.

We can see it now. Homework papers strewn across the dining room table. Somewhere in the midst of the pile is a permission slip just waiting to be signed, by today, of course. Lunches need packed, outfits need put together, and kids need picked up after football practice. We’ve been there. And we’ve all said to ourselves that there’s got to be a better way.

We know there are those parents out there who are organized. They’re more than an urban myth, they do in fact exist. So we’ve scoured the internet (a.k.a. Pinterest) for some practical, implementable back-to-school organization hacks that will make the mornings and evenings easier in your home. Check out our favorites below or go to our "Life With Kids" Pinterest page for even more ideas!

School binder – Yep, we’re trying to keep it real with really basic tips to help keep things organized. Binders are easy to find and easy to organize – you don’t even have to be super crafty and no hot glue guns are required. Add dividers for a section for schedules, school information, classmate contact information, policies, etc. Add a section for field trip paperwork and class party guidelines, too. Multiple kids? Try color coding your tabs! You’ll thank yourself later that you didn’t just jam this stuff in that junk drawer!

Homework station – Many families congregate around the kitchen table during homework time. But who wants No. 2 pencils mixed in with their forks and knives, right? The solution may be a homework station that is easily moved and hidden when homework is done. Now, you can get a little more creative as this Pinterest pinner shows, or you can keep in basic. First, we suggest you get a magazine file to keep important documents, like that permission slip for the field trip, neatly tucked away until you need it. You could even put the school binder (from the tip above) in the magazine file. Next, you are going to put the magazine file and some appropriately sized storage containers (mason jars, etc.) on a sturdy tray that can hold the weight of the homework must-haves, such as pencils and colored pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers, paper clips, scissors and rulers.  We saw another Pinterest pinner use a rolling caddy with drawers as a homework station – equally awesome!

Devoted drawers – Some moms put sweet notes in their kids’ lunch totes, while other moms put money in their kids lunch account at school because packing a lunch is just too much before a cup of coffee. Both types of moms are equally awesome in our textbook but if you want to be a pack-a-lunch mom, here’s some tips. Keep a drawer with lunch box supplies, like plastic utensils and sandwich bags, stocked and ready. Throw the apple cutter in the drawer so everything is in one place. If you have enough space, we suggest divvying up the snacks into sandwich bags ahead of time and keeping them in the drawer, too. Consider devoting a refrigerator drawer for other snacks like grapes. If you want to let your kids choose, tell them to pick a premade sandwich and 2-3 items from each drawer for their lunch tote. While we’re talking lunches, we saw another brilliant idea for keeping your child’s lunch cold. Simply wet a sponge, wrap it in cling wrap, and freeze it – perfect for when you don’t have a frozen ice pack ready.

Convenient closet – Sometimes it’s hard enough to pick out an outfit for ourselves in the morning, let alone another person. For that reason, many parents lay out their kids’ outfits the night before, and we think that is a super idea. This next tip takes that a step further. What if you choose their outfits for the entire week while you are putting away their laundry? Grab a sweater organizer and attach labels with the days of the week (we knew that hot glue gun would show up eventually.) Then, your child can express his or her independence while getting dressed in matching, coordinated outfits that are perfectly acceptable for school! It’s a win-win situation!

Bigger-than-life calendar – It seems that with the fall comes the activities and everyone in the family begins going a separate direction. It’s definitely a challenge to keep track of everyone’s schedule, so keep those details handy in an oversized (as in wall-sized) calendar in a central location. Grab some chalkboard paint from your home improvement store, mark off sections, and paint your way to organized! Everyone in the family will know who needs picked up, who’s home for dinner and when that next awards ceremony is for Junior!

Staying organized is definitely a challenge throughout the school year, but hopefully these household tips will help your family ace the new school year. We’d love to hear what has worked for you in school years past. Let us know in the comments below!  

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