Organizing Tricks for the New School Year

With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let’s get set up for success!

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

I am not a schedule-y type person. I’ve been more of a go-with-the-flow type person; despite all my lists and organizing things, it’s true. Being organized actually helps me be a little more go-with-the-flow. If I’ve done the important, time-sensitive things, then I can enjoy whatever happens in the moment without worrying that the world will stop spinning, or whatever anxiety I can dream up in that moment.

This year, my 13th in formal homeschooling, is one that sees me more organized than I have ever been. I’ve surprised even myself. See that paper above. I finally figured out why we have paper all over the place and I’m going to do something about it. Or die trying.

I have six weeks of lesson plans (times six kids) written. I have almost all worksheets and tests for those six weeks printed out. I have not deluded myself into thinking that I will actually follow all those plans to the letter, but at least I’ve got a fighting chance.

To be honest, the last few years my go-with-the-flow-ness has caused my kids to wait for me to write their to-do lists or print that science test, wasting precious school time and disrespecting them and their willingness to do their part. I’m hoping to turn over a new leaf in that department. I’m going to do more than just write it down. I’m going to set us up for success — in all areas, if possible.

Here’s how I am trying to be better organized for the new year:

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Create a master calendar.

I love google calendar. I am able to coordinate our family events, my work obligations, and personal appointments and sync it between my phone, ipad, and computer. I’m also able to sync events with my husband and older kids and with my assistant, making sure that everyone knows what’s what.

I also printed out the calendar pages from Organizing Life as MOM to keep in our homeschool binder so that everyone has access to pertinent information.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Create a time budget or schedule.

Past experience has shown me that I have to budget my time as well as my money. If I don’t give every minute or hour a name or a purpose, I won’t get done the things that I need to go. Like I said, I’m trying to make peace with this busy season and can’t wait for January when things start to slow down a bit.

I’ve got my weekly calendar set up (I use this planning grid) so that I can keep some rhythm and equilibrium in my days. I’m not filling up every minute with something to do. Rather I’m trying to draw boundaries for the things that I need to do and not let them creep in on down time or family time.

For instance I’m hoping to reclaim bedtimes in the new school year. I want the after dinner hours NOT to be about computer time, but about stories and games, family nights and decent hour bedtimes. We’ll see how it goes, but there’s no way it can’t happen if I don’t try.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Get the meal plans and grocery lists going.

Since the days will be pretty full, I need my kids to be able to feed themselves and/or have many meals already prepped. I’m building breakfast and lunch meal plans — watch for them! — with ready-to-go grocery lists so that I can just print them off and let my husband do the shopping for me.

Check out these grab and go dinner plans that come with the pre-prepped grocery lists.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Plan for school lunches.

Even though we homeschool, I plan to pack lunches the night before — or have kids do it, so that each can just grab his lunch when he’s ready for a break. My day will be pretty full with teaching the kids, so I don’t really have the time to stop and make meals. If we’ve got an abundance of leftovers at dinner, my plan is to package it in individual servings so each kid can reheat as needed. In the end I think we’ll even save on dishes.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Stock the freezer.

Freezer cooking is a miracle activity to bridge the gap between your time and a homecooked meal. It has saved my bacon on a number of occasions. I had a couple boys help me precook a bunch of meats this past week so that we have easy proteins ready to go. See this free printable Protein Power in an Hour cooking plan to see what we did. I’m hoping to knock out this breakfast freezer plan this weekend.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Plan for school.

This year finds me the most organized for school, and I’m really amazed. I’ve got file folders full of stuff ready to go. I’ve ordered all the books. It took me the better part of two weeks to make that happen, printing off my homeschool binder pages and getting the kids’ notebooks set up. But we’re set! Yay!

(If you want to see what we’re studying, you can check out our curricula.)

Not all of you need to plan lesson plans for six kids. If your kids attend schools outside the home, then you still have lots of responsibilities to manage. I’m amazed at what my ps friends have to do: buy uniforms, purchase school supplies, pay extra fees, attend meetings, and what not. In the same way some look at me and say, “I could never….” Well, right back atcha, sister. It makes me tired to think of public schooling.

I think that’s pretty funny, actually. To each her own, eh? ;)

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Clean the workspaces.

I spent some heavy duty time cleaning my office this past week and overhauled the school room over the summer. I’m making it a goal to clear off my desk and the school table every afternoon or evening. This would add so much peace to our home and my life in general. Here’s hoping I can pull it off. I might have to report back into you on a weekly basis. ;)

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year - With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let's get set up for success!

Set up your daily do’s.

I am currently using a storage clipboard to cart around with me during the day. It holds my different lists as well as my daily/weekly/monthly Post-it Note to do list. It’s still in the tweaking phase, but I’m hopeful it will help keep me on track.

I truly want to make the best of this new year. It’s FishBoy17’s last year of school under my tutelage. It’s been a great ride. He’s getting on another road eventually. I hope this year the rest of us can establish some better habits, that I’ll have more down time and more peace, that their time won’t be squandered, and that we can make the most of the time we have together.

What are YOU doing to set your school year up for success?

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Comments

  1. If this post is any indication of the rest of your life, I am IMPRESSED. I like how some of the to-dos are “find this” – I add that sort of thing to my list all the time! Recently, it was “find the cover to the mop thing” so I could use my nice mop instead of hands and knees scrubbing.
    Our “after dinner” time is quiet time – we (me, hubby, animals) hang out in our comfy room and snuggle, read, watch movies. It’s a nice way to end the day.

  2. Loving the post it note system. Been using a similar version myself for a year or so and really love it. I, too, am desperate to reclaim evening time for our family. Let’s schedule a 2 week and then a 2 month check in.

  3. Somehow, my paper lists always got misplaced, so I use Evernote for my lists like, “Kroger,” “Costco,” “Co-op checklist,” etc. But for my master planning stuff, I go back to paper! LOL I have a big desk calendar hanging on the wall that I write appointments on (I even put meals on it when I’m having to rework my skeleton meal plan). And I have our 7 daily schedules (yeah, Fri, Sat and Sun don’t have much on them) printed out and put in cheap Ikea picture frames underneath my giant calendar. I’ve got my meal plan for this school year (still need to print it out), and my kids sticker chart/checklists for their subjects. And I am so with you about after dinner time being more screen free! I try to make it the rule that there’s no screen time after dinner (fallen by the wayside while we’ve been doing some renovations, but we’ll get back there soon).

    • I’d love to see the picture frame to do lists!

      • Here are the frames I used. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50186500/#/80188456. They were half off last month. The whole thing is still a work in progress, though. For the past few years, I had been ticky-tack-ing my schedules up in sheet protectors, but I wanted something that looked a bit more polished, so I got these frames. I really wanted them hooked together, but that didn’t come out how I thought it would. Sigh. Next up, I’m going to use some plywood scraps and make a French Message Board that basically will catch each corner of each paper. Wish me luck!

  4. WOW! I’m impressed! I got tired just reading this. :) For me, it’s all about the scheduling, the lists, and most importantly – planning ahead! The more I can stay ahead of the schedules, the school plans, the meal plans, the meals – the more smoothly things go. Once I get behind, I start to feel overwhelmed at times. Here’s to a great school year!

  5. Lots of planning! I’m right there with you. I’m more of a “go with the flow” type, but find that I need the structure of a schedule to keep me organized. (I’m too easily distracted and too much of a procrastinator.) And my kids do better if they know what is coming & when. It also helps me give myself permission to take time to relax. I know things that need to be done are scheduled & I will get to them at the right time. We’re starting school Sept 2, so I’m in the midst of preparation, too. I have a general schedule for the day, but it still needs some tweaking to make sure we have everything in without over planning. I’m trying to reclaim that time before bedtime, too, with games or reading together. I’m sure it won’t happen every day, but even a few times a week would be nice. :) I have some of our specific lesson plans scheduled, a few more I need to finish up. Some subjects are planned for the year. I’ve planned by week- (week 1, week 2, etc) rather than specific date. We’re going to have some traveling, but don’t know exact dates and length of time. This way, we can just pick the week number rather than rearranging the calendar. We’ll see what happens.

  6. “Being organized actually helps me be a little more go-with-the-flow.” You’ve nailed it! It’s so simple, that I can’t believe it’s never dawned on me before. I am constantly planning and making lists, then deviating from them. I always knew it worked for me (even though my husband seems to focus on the to-do list failures), but I never fully internalized that it’s my tool to allow our family to go with the flow and take advantage of the best opportunities that present themselves, without completely dropping all of the balls that are in the air. Thank You!!

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