Organizing Tricks for the New School Year

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With the new school year comes a chance at a fresh start. Let’s get set up for success! Try these tried and true organizing tricks for the new school year.

close-up of homeschool binder and dividers.

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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 allows 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 16th in formal homeschooling, is one that sees me more organized than I have ever been. I’ve surprised even myself. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m finally getting in a groove.

And it only took 16 years.

With some trial and error, I’ve discovered some organizing tricks that help me keep my head on straight once school starts. Whether you homeschool, private school, preschool, or public school, I’m pretty sure these organizing tricks will work for you, too!

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year

student planner september

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.

But, I also love paper. I use my Print & Go Planner to track goals and big priorities.

This year my kids are using the Print & Go Student Planner to do the same. It’s a way for me to equip them for life — and make sure school work gets done.

There’s no excuse for any of us to be confused.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year | Life as Mom

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.

Each week I set up my weekly calendar set up in my planner 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 quiet evenings 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.

groceries cart with flowers and cereal

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 with ready-to-go grocery lists so that I can let my husband do the shopping for me. We share a grocery list on Reminders so I can easily communicate what we don’t already have at home.

Check out these grab and go dinner plans that come with the pre-prepped grocery lists if you need some help.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year | Life as Mom
Veggie Pesto Sandwiches

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.

Since we came home from England, we’ve talked about making our own Pret a Manger food at home. Veggie Pesto Sandwiches and my favorite Picnic Sandwich are really good for this. Children, count on eating them a lot this year!

Need more ideas? Try these:

stacks of meals in the freezer

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. We’ll be doing more of this in the next couple weeks to prepare for the exhaustion that accompanies the first day of school.

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year | Life as Mom

Plan for school.

While I am loathe to go back to school already, I know we must. One son, our high school senior, will be taking some community college classes as well as several online. He starts in just a week. Our college junior starts the week after. FishBoy15 will be in 10th grade — how did I get here, people?! — and he’s taking several online classes for math and Spanish.

My inbox is full of emails from our different online schools, instructing me about all the different software we need to get familiar with. My work is cut out for me even though I’m not teaching all this stuff!

Thankfully, for the younger three, we already own all the books. #handmedowns Since we use kindles for homeschool, I won’t have a ton of printing to do, just churn out digital to-do lists and set up binders.

Not all of you need to coordinate the education of five kids. But, if your kids attend schools outside the home, you still have lots of responsibilities to manage. I’m amazed at what my public school 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? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whatever planning for school looks like for you, get with it!

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year | Life as Mom

Clean the workspaces.

My agenda this week includes gutting our school room and home library, ditching what we don’t use anymore, filing away last year’s stuff that I haven’t touched since we went to England, and otherwise locating everything we need for the new year.

We’re finally getting rid of the PC that I bought at Best Buy four years ago that never really worked. FishPapa wiped it and reset it to factory settings, and it’s still a piece of junk. A piece of junk that’s been taking up space in my school room. Out with it!

If your kids have a special spot for homework or homeschooling, get it all spic and span so they can easily do what they need to do. Or at least not have an excuse not to do it!

daily to do list

Set up your daily do’s.

My planner is my faithful sidekick during the day. It holds my different lists as well as my daily/weekly/monthly Post-it Note to do list. I know that if I make a plan, I can do great things — even if every day doesn’t obey me.

I truly want to make the best of this new year. It’s FishBoy16’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 YOUR favorite organizing tricks?

Organizing Tricks for the New School Year | Life as Mom

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  1. For some reason, this post gave me an epiphany. I always have a feeling throughout my school days (when kids are at school) that I never have enough time to get things done. I need more prioritizing rather than my blanket to do list. I think I’ve been setting myself up for failure seeing all of the unchecked boxes. It’s stressful to look at what I perceive as failure. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Rather, I need to have the absolute must-do’s (dog walk, clean up kitchen, dishes, etc) and then set smaller goals. Clean house, do laundry – these aren’t small goals. And I never, ever meet them. Maybe I need to break up my thinking into one load laundry, or wash all laundry and then the next day put laundry away.

  2. “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!!

  3. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

  4. WOW! I’m impressed! I got tired just reading this. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. 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).

      1. Here are the frames I used. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. Don’t be impressed. My bathroom and my bedroom are pretty disastrous right now. I can only some things some times, never all things all the time.