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Back to school can be chaotic, solidifying routines, managing responsibilities–both your kids’ and your own, packing lunches, and finding time to connect and have fun with your kids. Here are 9 back to school hacks that make everyday life during the school year run as smoothly as possible.

Back to school can be a little chaotic. Trying to get back into the swing of things like bedtimes, getting out the door on time, packing lunches, homework, extracurriculars, etc. ain’t no easy task!

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite back to school hacks that make things run just a little bit smoother. Even adding one or two hacks to your daily routine can diminish the chaos of life and eliminate some of your everyday stressors.

For these back to school hacks, I’m focusing on three aspects of mom life: routines, food, and connecting with kids.

Routines

1. Clipboards

I help my kids keep track of their routines and responsibilities with clipboards. On each clipboard is a copy of their chore & responsibility chart and a list of their routines–morning, after school, and night. I talked a little bit more about the importance of routines for kids and how these three routines can improve your life here. You can also include a reading chart, spending log, goal sheet, or any other tracking system you have in your house.

I like to laminate my charts (or stick them in a sheet protector) so they can be used over and over again with a dry erase marker, rather than needing to print out a new copy each week. My favorite laminator is this one from Scotch.  Then I use string or velcro to attach a dry erase marker to the clipboard.

Each kid grabs their clipboard and carries it around as they complete their routines/tasks, checking them off as they go. Another great life hack for this is to use Command Picture Hanging Strips to attach the clipboards to the wall, making them easy to pull-off and stick back on. These strips are super easy to apply and leave no damage to the wall!

2. Pick Out A Week’s Worth of Clothes on the Weekend

We pick out our clothes for the upcoming week on Saturday evening. Then we place each outfit (undies included) into a hanging shoe shelf, like this one in the closet. You can even print off the days of the week and label each shelf with the day. Each morning an outfit is ready and waiting for kids to put on right when they wake up!

3. Designate a Special Spot for All School Related Items

It’s a good idea to designate a special spot for all school related items, then teach kids to place them there when they get home from school each afternoon.

  • Designate a special spot in the kitchen to store reusable water bottles and lunch boxes.
  • Have a spot for shoes and a hook for backpacks.
  • Have a hanging file or a special bin in the kitchen or office for kids to put special papers for you to sign or look at.

Having a spot for everything means you won’t have a mess of stuff all over your house come 3:30 (at least most of the time 😉).

4. Keep a Family Calendar

Keep a calendar on the wall that lists each person’s daily schedule. This way, kids know what to expect. We have a weekly calendar in our house, but you could do a full month if you prefer.

Ideas of what to include:

  • Extracurriculars
  • Appointments
  • Events
  • Birthday Parties
  • Holidays or Special Occasions
  • Family Activities
  • Dinner Menu

You can use a different color for each family member, if you want. Or simply put each person’s name or initial first.

5. Store Items Where They’re Used, Not Where They’re Typically Stored

I can’t believe it took us so long to figure this out, but it’s been a game changer for us!

We do our kids’ hair while they eat breakfast (saves time AND they complain less because they’re focused on food), so we store hair ties, a brush, a comb, and a spray bottle on a shelf in the kitchen.

Even though our kids’ bathroom is upstairs, we store their toothbrushes and toothpaste in the downstairs bathroom so they can brush their teeth after breakfast before they run out the door (and it works well in our routine for night brushing too).

We don’t put our shoes on until right before we walk out the door, and often take them off when we first get home. So instead of storing shoes in our closets, we put them in baskets in the hallway by the garage.

Think OUTSIDE the box of where things are typically stored and instead store them where you personally use them!

Food

1. Make Ahead Meals & Snacks

Take some time to prep meals and snacks ahead of time, then carve out a couple hours one day a month to replenish those stores.

Things like breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, pancakes, waffles, french toast, homemade oatmeal packets, smoothie packs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham sandwiches, and much more can be prepped ahead of time and frozen. Then just pop one in the microwave or toaster for a quick breakfast, or place a frozen sandwich in the lunchbox to thaw in time for lunch.

2. Come up with a Lunch System

If you pack lunches, having some sort of a lunch system can save you a lot of time. Even kindergarteners can help pack their own lunches–especially if you set them up for success.

Have special containers in your pantry and/or fridge full of items for them to choose from. Then let them pack their own lunch! You can make-up a list of items for them to choose from using this free printable here, or tell them a formula (like one main item, one fruit/veggie, one snack, and one drink). Not only will this save you time, but it teaches them personal responsibility, too. Plus, they’re more likely to eat it if they choose it themselves!

Connection

1. Getting Kids to Talk to You After School

Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to open up after school. You ask them, “How was today?” And they say, “Fine.” You reply with, “What’d you do?” and they say, “Nothing.” The conversation is going nowhere fast 🙄. Instead, try to make a game out of it!

One thing my son loves is to play two truths and a lie with our day. He’ll tell me two things that actually happened that day and one that didn’t, and I have to guess the lie. Then it’s my turn! It’s fun, often creates laughter, and gets me more info than I’d get otherwise.

Or you can create a conversation jar full of questions and have them pick one out each day while they eat a snack. You can answer too!

2. One-on-One Tuck-in Time

The more kids you have (and the older they get), the tougher it is to tuck each one of them in each night and to give them the quality time they need (and deserve).

Instead of running yourself ragged trying to get to everyone every single night, give each kid a night of the week that’s their special night. That night, spend some extra time talking with them. Or play a game in their room before bed. Or read an extra story–just the two of you. However they connect best, do that.

Back to School Hacks

With these 9 back to school hacks, you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time.

What’s one of your favorite back to school hacks?

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