Aug 19, 2014

Back to School Organization

I put out a post the other day asking my readers what they needed help with to stay organized at "Back to School" time.  I love this.  This hits especially close to home since I am a parent to two children in school, but also a teacher.  Today I will be providing some tips on how to keep your sanity during this busy time of year!!

Whether it's paperwork (like grading papers) or kid's stuff (what to keep and what to throw out) we will have tips and tricks to keep you sane as you head back to school.

Let's tackle the kid's first...this is pretty short and sweet.

We all want to keep the cutest pieces of art and work that our kids complete at school.  I have found a system that I love that not only allows me to keep a lot of work, but not allow it to get too overwhelming.  Over at they have the most ADORABLE printable school binders.  It runs from K - 12 and you print off what you need as you need it.  They have the grade print offs and the ability to make them personalized.

Here are a few shots of the inside of Ella's binder.

You fill out the details and a picture for each grade.  I use tabs to separate the years.  Once they are separated I put all of my favorite pieces of artwork or papers behind the tab.  I keep my favorites for each year.

There aren't 500 pieces of paper laying around and I still feel like I've kept enough!! Isn't this a brilliant idea??????

I would totally recommend this to everyone.  It was easy to print and a breeze to put together!

Now...onto the adults.

Organizational Tip #1

Find a desk calendar you love and post it somewhere your entire family can see it and add to it.

I am the type of person that HAS to write EVERYTHING down.  And I mean everything.  I have been sent to the grocery store (which is 2 minutes from my house) and come home missing the ingredients I went there to get.  It's that bad.  You can't even come close to expecting me to remember dates and details of events.  Worst. Memory. Ever.

So, for my family, we would be lost without this feature.  Our calendar is set up where anyone and everyone can write things down.  I especially like this idea if you have older kids.  They are going to happen upon events that just pop up, and they are responsible enough to write down their events, such as softball games or practices.

Organizational Tip #2

Meal Plan, Meal Plan & More Meal Planning

I can't say enough about the art of meal planning.  I know we've talked about it before, but you will never truly understand it's benefits until you try it out for a few weeks.

I found this simple printable meal plan sheet and grocery list on  If you plan out your week and buy the groceries you are much more likely to stick to that plan.  This is beneficial for several reasons.  The main reason being your health.  The worst thing you can do is be stranded at 5pm with no plan for dinner.  This is when people stop for fast food or other JUNK!!!  You have totally failed if this happens to you regularly.

Another great reason for meal planning is to save money.  You are less likely to waste food and buy a ton of extra ingredients if you have a plan.  

Also, putting a meal plan together WITH your schedule or calendar is a genius idea.  Sit down and look at what nights during your week is the busiest.  Plan on a crockpot meal that day.  There is nothing better than putting a meal into the crockpot at 7am and anyone is able to serve their own plate no matter what time they get home.  Maybe Jimmy and Tyler will be home from soccer practice at 7pm and Ella and I are home from gymnastics at 6pm.  We can eat when we want with NO ONE stuck leaning over the stove or grill.  The crock pot is magic!!!

Organizational Tip #3

Over cook the night before.  The easiest thing to take for lunch the next day is your leftover food from the night before.  I don't know why more people don't do this.  I guess "boredom" would be an excuse not to, but for me, I take EASY over bored any day.  99% of my lunches I take to school are planned leftovers from earlier in the week.  If we plan to make salmon patties we make 3 extra for lunches that week.  It's as simple as that.

Organizational Tip #4

Make your kids help and learn responsibility.  Kids can do SO much more than you think.  Now, I didn't necessarily say that would like all of the things that you are asking them to do.  But, you would be surprised as to how willing the kids are to help when they start to feel good about helping the family.

I recently came across this personalizable & printable chore chart on Pinch A Little, Save A Lot blog.  I am in love.  I was able to put my OWN chores and responsibilities into ours and it was so easy.  I typed in the names of what I wanted my kids to do and bought some stickers to put in the circles.  You could also print it and laminate it and use a dry erase marker to check them off.  My kids are little enough where the stickers are way cooler than the check mark. 

The kids have been so active and helpful around the house.  Some of the chores on our list include morning routines as well.  This has truly helped a smooth transition out of the house in the mornings.  The kids know what is expected of them and are ready to help EXTRA.  Here are examples of our morning routine chores:

1.  Make Beds - now this is still tough for them.   It doesn't really need to be perfect, just a starting point that you don't leave your room a disaster in the morning.

2.  Clothes in Hamper - I don't know about your kids, but mine are totally guilty of taking their PJs off and just chucking them.  They go directly in the hamper.

3.  Dishes in Sink - They will eventually get to the age where I trust them to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher.  But for now, I am happy with them not leaving the counters sloppy and cluttered with their morning dishes.

4.  Brush your teeth - They are totally capable of having this done without being told.  It's more about are 5 & one should have to remind you any longer that you are supposed to brush your teeth.

These are just a few of the morning routines that are done without whining or asking.  

A few chores or routines that are also on our sheet:

1.  Homework - If they have it they do their homework first.

2.  Read for 20 minutes - This is more of a bonus option.  They don't have to do it every night, but if they are bored or whining, or just want to, they always have the option of getting extra stickers.

3.  Cleaning the Kitty Litter Box - I have showed them what to do...and they do a great job.

4.  Take out Trash/Recycling - They take it out to the garage where our bin is.  They fight over the plastic because it's so light :)  Whoever is first gets the plastic...slow poke gets stuck with the heavy trash!!!

5.  Pick up Toys - This one MUST be done before bed time.  We start each day fresh with a decluttered house.

6.  Be Kind to Ella/Tyler - They get to put a sticker on if they have been kind to their sibling.

You will be amazed at what your kids will try and prove to you that they can be an important asset to your family.  These chore/responsibility charts have helped our mornings tremendously this year.  I don't have to nag at them or even remind them what needs to be done.   I just ask, "Have you done everything on your check list?" and they bounce right to it.

I am sure there will be days that they want to argue and we will handle it then.  But, as of right now it's working like a charm!!!

Organizational Tip #5

Break the clean up into "Zones" or areas.

I am not a clean freak.  Everyone in my family knows this.  I am messy and not an expert in all things clean.  With that being said, I am probably the BEST person to tell you how to make it easier since I hate it so much. :)

My friend Erin from Bringing Up Burns has said it the absolute BEST for my understanding.  I am huge in to sports and love the terminology of breaking it into zones or areas.  You can find what best works for you, but if you try and tackle the ENTIRE house in one sitting you are often left overwhelmed.  This is totally my problem.  Having the chores broken into areas or days has left me with a fighting chance of getting the house done better throughout the week.  Read all about Erin's "zone defense" HERE.  I will give you an example of what mine looks like below...

If you break your week down into areas you will eventually get to the entire house.  Again, this is MY version and you could make this work for you.  There are always going to be things that need get done every day as well.  Add those to your every day list.

I hope that this has helped in the SANE start of the school year for you and your family.  Please leave any comments or questions below.  I am all ears to suggestions or ideas too.  Lord knows I'm not perfect.  People are always asking how I have enough time to tackle my "to-do" list and this is what helps me.  

Happy Tuesday ya'll!!!


  1. My son is just starting kindergarten so I definitely need to get a system together to corral all the papers coming home. So far I just have a box of things from preschool that needs to be sorted through.

    Meal planning and a cleaning schedule are time and sanity savers for me too. I need to revamp my systems a little though so this post was helpful.

    1. I am so glad this was helpful!!!! Best of luck on your organizational changes!!!!! The chore chart was the biggest help for me in the mornings!!!

  2. There is a great app called "ArtKive" that I used when my daughter was in pre-K and i will continue to use now that she has started Kg. Of course there are pieces of her artwork that i want to keep so I have a box that i put all of her pre-K keepsakes in, but i always felt so bad throwing away all the other artwork. ArtKive allows you to take pictures of the artwork and you can even get super-detailed and date and title them. Then when you're ready, you can have them printed in a book and sent to you. Great idea without taking up all kinds of extra space! I also liked taking pictures of her worksheets to show her how far she's come with her handwriting.

  3. I recently came across your blog and was drawn to it because I am one of four sisters too! THanks for all of the fitness advice and this post on school organization! My oldest starts kindergarten in less than two weeks so this post was much needed!

    1. Yes!!!! Love girls with a lot of sisters :) And thank you for reading.