9 Ways to Simplify Back to School


It’s a combination of happy and sad when back to school comes around. We are reluctant to get back to routines and there’s a big to do list to prepare for the upcoming school year. We tend to think of back to school as a long series of complicated, expensive, and arduous tasks that go on and on!  Use this list of 9 ways to simplify your back to school preparations to be ready to start the school year.


1. Start with a list of all that is needed before the school year begins. No need to recreate the wheel here! There’s the Good Housekeeping supply list for school supplies.  There’s countdown lists for appointments on Finder.com.  Now compare and create what works for you with a timeline on your family calendar. Your family calendar is your personal guide and helps you create a team with your partner to accomplish and check off requirements.  Pace yourself or consolidate tasks with a power day.  Think of it as project management.


2. Kids and parents need to remember to hydrate all day. Purchase water bottles for everyone including yourself to be sure you are keeping water by your side.


3.  Still have last year’s papers to review?  Make it fun with one on one kiddo time together. Spend 30 – 60 minutes reviewing last year’s papers, keeping what you both think are precious.


4. Set up this year’s command center for incoming papers.  You will be ready for all the incoming information.


5. Prep for all types of communication styles with a capture tool that works for you.

  • Think about what paper or digital tool works best for you.  For me it’s my planner pad. Options include an app, a spiral notebook or post it notes.  Make it this year’s goal to use one capture tool effectively and efficiently.
  • For email, create a single sub-folder to store incoming info from your kids schools.  A single sub-folder to move emails keeps your inbox cleaner and gives you one place to look for information.  Name this subfolder by kid, by school or just a single sub-folder names Schools.
  • For text, move information to email by copying and then email yourself so you can track information to a single source.
  • For the rare voice mail message, capture that information with an email, make a note in Evernote, or write this on your paper task list.


6.  Set up your school supplies in a school supply center.  Grab all your existing supplies and review what you have.  Purchase what is needed and set up a center for easy access for your kiddos.


7. Making lunches is can be a highlight of the week for everyone.  Set up a lunch making section of your refrigerator and pantry.   Leave one shelf in each area specifically for lunch box friendly fare that is ready to place in the box.   Create a shopping list with your family to be sure items are delivered to your home that make lunch making healthy and easy.


8. Set up a family meeting time to talk about this year’s successes.  Your family meeting is key to collaboration and communication.  Hosting this weekly will keep your family organized and keep you productive.


9. Most important about back to school is getting the rest you all need as a family.  Everyone in your family needs time to relax and time to rest.  That translates to getting to bed earlier the week or weekend before and having some time at home to prepare for the transitions ahead. When there’s less sleep, everything seems harder!


Don’t get overwhelmed with year with back to school. Keep it simple, pace yourself and know what your priorities are.  Choose one thing to accomplish each day to feel like you are making progress.




4 replies
  1. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    It isn’t quite back-to-school time here yet (thankfully!), but this is a good time to start thinking about it. Excellent point about sorting what may have come home at the end of last year. See what can be reused, what should be moved to memorabilia, and what should be recycled. My other tip is to find out if you will need any “specialty” supplies this year, such as a large presentation board if you child will be doing a science fair project. Those always sell out in the heat of the moment, so better to just get one and keep it on hand.

  2. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    @Seana – we Southerners start very early! Good point about specialty supplies. That is best to have available so that you are well prepared!

  3. Linda Samuels
    Linda Samuels says:

    Summer’s not quite over, yet I’m noticing the back-to-school focus everywhere from blog posts to stores. Families are getting ready. And in some cases, the kids might already be back in school. Here in New York, we have about another month before the schedules change.

    Aside from preparing school supplies, command centers, food, and schedules, another essential for back-to-school prep is making sure the kids’ have edited and updated their clothing. It’s a great time to see what fits and what doesn’t, do some room organizing, and get those closets and drawers ready for the fall and change of season.

  4. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    That’s what I love about New York! Back to school after Labor Day! Enjoy the last month of summer and start prepping soon!

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