4 Tips to Simplify Back-to-School

posted by Andrea | 08/10/2015

back to school

Even though there are still few more weeks until Dave is officially back in school, reality is starting to sink in here at the Dekker house, and back-to-school preparations are beginning.

While I’m definitely not anxiously anticipating the first day of school like I did back in elementary school, I do know that a little planning ahead is necessary on my part in order to assure a smooth transition into this very busy time of year.

And for those of you wondering why the back-to-school season is a busy time of year for someone with non-school-age kids, it’s because Dave is a teacher, so I’ll be transitioning from having him around all day to flying solo with 3 kids all day.

So yes, it will be a big adjustment for our family! 

In my opinion, there are a few things that we can all do now to make the back-to-school season seem less busy, less stressed, and less chaotic.

1. Schedules:

It’s inevitable that this time of year will have more drop offs, pick ups, practices, games, recitals, events, meetings, and scheduling conflicts than during the summer months.

Take some time now to figure out what type of system you’ll use to keep track of everything — a physical planner, a family wall calendar, Google Calendar, an app on your phone, a bulletin board in a central location in your home, or some other system. There is no one “right way” to organize your family’s schedule, so pick the method that works best for you.

Personally, I’m still using a daily planner because our kids aren’t old enough to be able to read a family calendar. Dave and I also use Google Calendar to coordinate our schedules — and I use Google Calendar for many of my VA jobs as well.

2. Food:

If you think about it, so much of the craziness of the back-to-school season is because we’re rushing around in the morning, trying to scarf down breakfast while packing lunches.

And then there’s the whole after-school snack issue, as well as the “what’s for dinner” questions.

Although it’s definitely not one of my favorite things to do, I try to stay in the habit of planning out a week of meals every Sunday afternoon. And Dave and I are both in the habit of packing lunches and getting breakfast foods ready the night before.

Almost every night, I feel like just going to bed instead of getting things ready for the next day… but every single morning, I’m happy for the extra time I have thanks to planning ahead the night before.

3. Clothes:

Clothing is probably something you’re already thinking about when it comes to back-to-school — after all, you need to make sure the kids’ clothes fit. But this time of year is also a really great time to go through everyone’s closets and dressers, purging anything you don’t need, want, wear, or things that don’t fit.

While you’re organizing your clothing, take a few extra minutes to implement some type of system for picking out what clothes the kids will wear each day.

No huge surprise that I’m a huge advocate for picking out clothing the night before (Dave still does this every night, and I do too if I have to be somewhere the next day). It saves so much stress, arguments, and time the following morning.

4. Home:

I realize this is a really broad category — and no, I don’t think your entire home needs to be perfectly organized in order to alleviate the stress and busyness that accompanies the back-to-school time of year. However, I DO think it’s extremely beneficial to have some sort of organizational systems in places for certain areas of your home.

For example, the entryways to your home will be the dropping zone for backpacks, coats, books, shoes, etc. so take some time now to get the entryways organized.

If you think you can’t organize your entryway because it’s too small, here are two posts to check out:

1. A Crowded Closet Turned Cozy Corner

2. The very small entryway at our old house

Also, if you don’t have any sort of system for paper management, now might be a good time to figure that one out as I’m certain you’ll be inundated with papers over the next 9 months!

One more thing to think about is where your kids will be doing their school work. Will it be in their bedrooms, at the kitchen table, in a designated office area, or somewhere else? Once you have that decided, make sure that space is relatively clutter-free and stocked with the necessary homework supplies.

With just a little planning ahead now, the next couple of months should go much smoother and be a lot less stressful.

Personally, I can attest to the fact that focusing on the 4 areas listed above has been an effective way for our family to simplify the busy back-to-school season… hopefully it will work for your family too!


Filed under: FamilyChildrenTime Management

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  1. Jennifer


    Loved this post today! I just finished purgin all kids closets and dressers and boy that was a chore…. A 2 day chore! Making them try on everything to make sure it all fits properly and all appropriate to be worn to school. With sending the final and youngest 2 to pre school this year we are a also going to try the ethos of laying out clothes the night before school. Hoping this goes well. Anyone else use this method and have success? I also want to innovate a new type of system to keep our family organized. Was thinking of doing s large dry erase board that would Be changed weekly. Where can you buy a large but cheap dry erase board? Thanks for all your tips Andrea! They are wonderful like always!


  2. Jen


    My biggest tip: have your kids pack their own lunches! Of course, they may need some help if they are younger, but this is one of the BEST things we ever did. Our kids (only one is still in high school now) were required to pack their lunches immediately after dinner every night before doing any other schoolwork, playing, etc. This saved SO MUCH grief and aggravation in the morning and, in spite of all their complaining, they all survived and turned out quite nicely! 🙂

    Happy new school year!


    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I packed my own lunch from 4th grade on — and I turned out just fine too 🙂


  3. Angela @ Setting My Intention


    These are so helpful! I’m dreading 3 different drop offs in the mornings – but instead of dreading it I really just need to get myself organized. Thanks for the practical tips!


  4. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip


    Preparation is key. You talking about Dave returning to work and flying solo with 3 kids is giving ME anxiety btw =) If I lived close, I would stop by and play maid some. Well maybe it’s best I don’t live close. “Mrs. Crackin’ stops by for a visit”….that would be kind of weird and scary!


    Andrea Reply:

    well thanks! once the school year starts, I might wish you lived closer too 🙂


  5. Alyssa


    I am definitely in “back to school” planning and organizing mode even though we have two more weeks until it starts. My girls are doing a day-camp this week and it was SO hard getting them to eat, get dressed, etc. in any sort of timely manner this morning. It made me realize it’s going to be a tough adjustment so I need to start ASAP!


  6. Debbie W.


    Great tips! I can attest that having clothes picked out the night before really helps to save stress and tears in the morning. Sometimes I even have my kids pick out what they will wear in the late afternoon (right before dinner) so that if they discover something needs to be washed there is still time to do that.