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Whether this is your first year, or you are a veteran mom--back to school time management can be just plain HARD! I’m not sure if you can relate, but I honestly don’t remember the last time we were early for something–and we are lucky when we are on time.
It’s important to remember that we parents are all in this together, and we can learn something from each other. We wanted to collaborate with other brilliant moms to compile a list of back to school time management hacks to (hopefully) help your mornings get off to a good start.
Because these tips are all taken from different parent’s, some of them will be a bit similar. Keep in mind, sometimes tweaking what you are doing just a little is all that’s needed to make your mornings go more smoothly.
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BACK TO SCHOOL HACKS FOR TIME MANAGEMENT
SCHOOL ORGANIZATION THE NIGHT/WEEK BEFORE
Being organized the days leading up to school are critical for your sanity and success. The days and weeks leading up to school you can start making and implementing a plan so when Monday morning comes you aren’t left scrambling. If school has not started back up yet, consider having them start waking up early a week before school starts. I know, it’s no one’s idea of a good time, but it will help ease the transition back to school
Pack what you can into the car the night before. Not only will this help you NOT forget something important, but it’s also going to make getting out the door happen much quicker in the morning.
To help your child keep their water bottle cold for lunchtime, fill it halfway with water and place it on its side in the freezer overnight, then fill the rest with tap water in the morning.
TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS
“The night before, put lunch bags out in the kitchen and backpacks by the door after making sure all school books, papers, permission forms, etc are tucked inside. In the morning, fill lunch bags, and have everyone put their lunch into their backpack as part of the getting out of the house routine.
That way, there’s no scrambling to find books or homework, no rush to find a pen to sign slips, and no forgotten lunches. Even better, you won’t find a dirty lunchbox full of yesterday’s garbage when you’re ready to fill it with food for today.” –Anna from Abrazo and Coze
“I have 4 kids ranging from 8th grade to daycare. We lay out all of our clothes for the entire week on Sunday. Head to toe including shoes, socks, hair bows, jewelry, etc. We don’t have ANY extra time to be looking for anything in the mornings.” –Valerie from The Overwhelmed Mama
“I get as much of the week’s work done in one sitting. Like for example, I’d make the kids pick out five outfits for the entire week. I’d make sure all paperwork is signed and put in their backpacks.
Lunches should definitely be done the night before. Alarms should be set to at least 15 minutes before the time you need to wake up because you never know what’s going to happen and what mood everyone is in. Breakfast should be quick and easy. Boiled eggs or oatmeal.” -Karina from Mama In The Mix
Related: Kindergarten Emotional Readiness
“When I do laundry on Friday I fold my boys’ clothes and put outfits together. Then I have them put 5 outfits into a hanging sweater organizer that hangs in their closet. The organizer has 5 cubbies in it, so one outfit for each cubby. This way each weekday morning they can go in and grab a whole outfit (socks, underwear, shirt, pants) and dress themselves.” –Cat from Mary Martha Mama
“I get all of my kids’ outfits for the week together on Sunday. I pair their outfits together on hangers in the laundry room for quick access.” –Stacey from Milkology
“Lay out all of your kiddos outfits the night before. You’d be amazed at how much time this saves in the morning! It’s easiest if you have the whole shebang together! Socks, shoes and even hair accessories. Then there’s no arguing over which outfit, what hairstyle and no looking for the mysterious, lost shoe!” –Stormy from Fun Thrifty Mom
TIME MANAGEMENT FOR A SCHOOL DAY MORNING
If your mornings are well planned out, hopefully, they will go quickly and smoothly. Understand that without careful planning, it’s going to be very difficult to get to nine AM with everyone in a good mood, so keep the mornings as easy as possible.
If you need your child to remember something you told them, tear off a skinny piece of paper and tape it around their wrist. Write your note on the inside of the paper.
Keep your child’s lunchboxes next to shoes so your kids don’t forget them going out the door.
TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS
“Wake up an hour earlier every morning; drink coffee -prepare for the day and then pack lunches and go through book bags. Wake the kids up around 630 and give extra time for anything that needs done (like homework we forgot ?) this way there’s no last-minute rush and I still score a few extra minutes of me time before starting the day.” -Crystal from Crystal Carder
“I put out paper and pens for my son to draw rather than watch tv/iPad that way he won’t want to keep watching another episode and it keeps him calm and ready for school!” –Yos from Zaatar and Zaytoun
“Set alarms on your phone – -one for the kids to get up – one for them to put on their shoes and one for when they must be out the door.” -Tracie from Penny Pinchin Mom
“I wake up early enough so that I am 75% ready and have a few minutes of alone time before the kids get up. That always helps me start the morning calm instead of chaotic with everyone rushing around. I find using a programmable coffee pot super helpful because it is wonderful to wake up to the smell of brewing coffee.” –Tamara from Empowered Single Moms
Here’s another twist on using alarms in the morning. “Set alarms on your cell phone to keep you on track throughout the morning. For example: have alarms for eating breakfast, brushing teeth, putting on shoes – all with a different sound to remind us to keep moving through our morning. –Erin from Bambini Travel
“We use music. By the end of certain songs, the kids should have X ready. It keeps everyone on track. Music works so well as there are natural cues happening all the time.” –Bron from Mum Lyfe
“Use a visual schedule to help kids organize their mornings and stay on task. We also have a rule that kids have to be completely ready to go before they can play in the mornings.” –MaryAnne from Mama Smiles
BACK TO SCHOOL FOOD PREP
Making breakfast and lunch can be two of the most time-consuming tasks you will complete before school. Find a resource with fast and easy freezer-friendly meals so you can prepare in advance. Preparation is key.
Make a large number of breakfast sandwiches at once by baking the eggs in a greased muffin tin. Cook the eggs for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees and then build your sandwich with English muffins and cheese. You can freeze these and heat them up for later too!
Related: Kindergarten Academic Readiness
You can still enjoy a nice breakfast without a ton of mess. Make pancake mix on Sunday and store servings in Ziploc bags in the fridge. Remember that pancake batter will expand, so don’t overfill the bags. When it’s time to cook the pancakes, cut a hole in the corner of the bag and squeeze!
TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS
“I have a Saturday or Sunday prep time, and I make ahead breakfasts and sandwiches. I make a sweet and a savory breakfast option (like breakfast sandwiches, breakfast casserole, French toast casserole, pancakes, or a better quality frozen waffles ) and I have it to pull out during the week.
It makes breakfast healthy and quick. Sometimes I also scramble extra eggs and heat it up in the morning and just give toast and fruit. Of course, we eat cereal and oatmeal sometimes too, but I couldn’t do it without having premade breakfast.
The sandwiches I make are just plain PB and J that I cut in half and freeze and take out on the days I need a quick lunch for them. I know a lot of people may not worry about making breakfasts and lunches but I have a family of 6 so we go through food pretty fast and I like them to eat healthy so I prefer homemade. Prepping and having breakfast ready to go is super helpful.” –Hilda from Real Mom Help
“We use food stations. Create take and go stations in the fridge and pantry with individual portions of fruit, veggies, pretzels or whatever your kids pack for lunch. This makes it easy for kids to pack their lunches quickly. -Amy from Organization Boutique
“A personal morning routine and know exactly how much time I need for me and my family in the morning. I also believe in meal prepping on Sunday afternoons. I prep all of my lunches for the week along with making healthy breakfast options and suppers.
This takes all of the guesswork out of the morning and really cuts down on the grabbing of fast food in the evenings. -Jada from It’s A Southern Life Yall
“Every Saturday when the groceries arrive I baggy them up into portions and put a portion in a pot for each day of the week. One baggy has fruit and vegetables. There is also a pot with dairy, so something like a cheese string or yogurt tube.
We do have a snack pot, and lastly, we have a protein pot that has things such as mini salamis. My kids can grab the baggies and wait until lunchtime to throw together a sandwich (they go soggy otherwise!) and each day they have carbs, dairy, fruit, veg, protein, and a snack in minutes for their lunch. This means the teens can grab and go too.” –Belinda from UVAS
“We freeze sandwiches for lunch! I do this all the time and the sandwich basically keeps other stuff cool while it defrosts! You take it out in the morning and by lunch, it’s ready to eat.” Rachel from The Analytical Mommy
HOME FROM SCHOOL
Affix a command hook to a wall in the corner so your kids have a backpack nook to put their stuff down when they get home from school.
TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS
“I like to have a central place for all our homework supplies. That way when we get home from school and everyone is tired and grumpy (including me!), it’s easy to start of homework without having to hunt around for pencil, paper, markers etc. I made a homework station, which also includes places to put school papers so I always know where everything is and don’t lose important school stuff.” –Sasha from Life’s Carousel
Related: Preschool Separation Anxiety
“For bags, we have a station with three shelves per child. The bag goes on the top. Any activity bags – swimming, brownies, football – are packed and on the shelves beneath, as well as any books they may need on certain days or homework until it is done.” -Belinda from UVAS
“Have a central location for backpacks, shoes, etc. When they get home from school each day, everything goes here. They need to unpack their lunchboxes and put them in the kitchen for packing later. Also, give the kids a checklist to follow after school. If they get everything done before dinner it makes your evenings better so you can plan ahead for the morning.” -Tracie from Penny Pinchin Mom
GENERAL BACK TO SCHOOL TIME MANAGEMENT HACKS
Consider using accordion style folders instead of regular bulky binders. These will take up less room, and your child can keep everything in the same place.
Start a planner for each of your kids. If they are old enough, have them write in the planner consistently so they can keep track of any assignments due, or any important papers that need to be returned.
TIPS FROM OTHER MOMS
“With four children fairly close together, we colour code everything we can. Red, blue, yellow, green – it prevents a lot of fighting and arguing. We do our best to get those colours in everything from bags to pencils to rulers to shoes. Anything that gets shared or passed down is usually green or purple or some other ‘unclaimed’ colour.” -Marie from Just Plain Marie
“Make sure everyone in the household has a specific job eg clearing table, collecting lunchboxes, laying out the shoes and bags.” I think this is a really important point, as the weight of everything should NOT be on one person. Delegate. -Fran from Teas Please Love
“As notices come in they are stapled a week before the due date into my planner (aka my brain! Haha! I would suffer if I ever lost it!) so that they are returned on time and also the information for next week doesn’t get lost. All newsletters for all schools are emailed so that helps!” -Belinda from UVAS
What time management hacks have YOU found help your family? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.