A comprehensive guide to prep your home for back to school. This guide is broken down into parts, that are very actionable and there is also a printable checklist to help you through the process.
Summer breaks are over and back to school time is here. Where did time go???!!
As much as I love summer breaks, it also gives me a great deal of anxiety. There is absolutely no schedule whatsoever and any schedule that is even there because of camps or classes keep changing every week. No schedule days are good, but I need to be on an island, sipping a margarita or a mai tai. Now, that is not possible for the two whole months of summer, right?
Back to school is also hard because bedtimes have to happen on time. Lunchboxes need to be packed. Homeworks need to be done. And the pickup / drop off coordination for school and after school activities.
Summer break to school or school to summer break - these changes need a little bit of a brain shift.
Parents, guardians, students - everyone feels this pressure of shifting gears.
Which is exactly what I am here to help you out with. I have a full actionable list of things to tackle so you are all set for this transition.
The beauty of this list is that
- You can do as little or as much as possible from the list. Every little thing gets you that much closer to a smoother transition to school that you were before.
- This is not just for the first few days or weeks after school starts. Tackling this list will help you with rest of the school year.
- You can enlist the kids to help with some of this as I am sure most of them are excited to get back to school and meet their friends.
- This is split into a Clean Out section and Get Ready and Be Organized section. The Clean Out section has all the things you need to clean, declutter etc so these spaces are ready to be organized.
- Tackling just the Clean Out section will make your life so much easier, even if you don’t get around to the organizing part.
I cannot stress enough about how you SHOULD NOT stress about getting ALL of this done. Like I said, every one thing you do gets you closer to less chaos. Take that as a win. Also, everything on this list may not work for your family, so take what serves you and your family from this big list. And remember, you are already rocking parenthood whether you do this or not.
- Clean Out
- Kids closet
- Kids shoes
- Last year’s school work and art
- Pantry and Snack Drawer
- Lunch Box and Water bottles
- Medicine Cabinet
- Backpack and After School activities storage
- Homework Space / School Supplies
- Get Ready and Be Organized
- Organize Kids Closet
- Create a “locker” space
- Set up Homework and School paperwork storage space
- Meal planning / Meal prep
- Organize family calendar
I am sure there are spaces in your home that has evolved into something else completely over the course of summer. You will want to start by making your house a functioning space for the everyday rush out of the house.
These are some of the spaces you will want to tackle at first before you start planning and organizing for the new school year.
- Go through their closet and take out all the clothes that don’t fit them anymore to donate or toss.
- I am sure your kids have also grown so much over summer that their old shoes might be a tad too snug. Make them try out all the shoes and donate / toss the ones that don’t fit them well anymore or have worn out.
Last year’s school work and art
- Go through all the paperwork from school from the previous year, keep the ones you want for records or memory and toss out the rest.
- To include your kid in this process or not is up to you. My son is pretty picky about the things he wants to keep and is willing to let me throw out most of the things. If your kid is the one who wants to save every scrap of paper they bring back from school, then you may want to do this yourself when they are not home.
Pantry and Snack Drawer
- Our snack drawer has evolved into another being over the summer break. I am sure yours has, as well. Clear out everything from the snack drawer / cabinet. Check for expiration dates and toss out any suspicious snacks that have been left open for who knows how long.
- Do a quick pass at your pantry to make sure any packages that have been left open for long are tossed. Make a list of dinner / school lunch staples that you need to refresh your pantry with.
Lunch Box and Water bottles
- Clean out your lunch box drawer / cabinet. Toss or donate any that have become leaky or too old or your kid has outgrown.
- Make sure all the boxes and containers have their lids. Check for the straws for the water bottles (they somehow tend to get lost / misplaced while in wash)
- Get a new lunch bag if you can. Over the year, things spill and it gets stained and sticky and smelly. If you can wash it and make it like new, then go for it, if not think of getting a new one.
- This may not have anything to do with back to school directly, but trust me, as the kids start school and bring back those germs, fall is the time when everyone starts falling sick.
- Throw away any expired medication and stock up on new ones. Make a list of anything that is over to buy a new one.
Backpack and After School activities storage
- If you don’t have a space for the backpack and any after school activities bag and things, make a space for it. It can be a small space, but has to be a dedicated one.
- Toss out anything not needed anymore and replenish with things you may need for after school activities.
Homework Space / School Supplies
- Go through the school supplies you keep in your homework space and toss out things you wont use anymore. This space can be a dedicate space or your kitchen / dining table, wherever the family convenes during homework time.
- Look for dried out markers, broken bits of crayons (there are ways to salvage this if you want to go that route, but that is where I draw the line for what works for me and my family) etc and toss them out.
- Toss out anything else you don’t need. Old papers, unused supplies, whatever else there may be.
- We all know that once school starts, a good majority of our time is spent in the car. Clean out your car, a good vacuum and spot wiping is more than enough.
Get Ready and Be Organized
Cleaning out and decluttering everything is a great first step that will have already set you up for a less stressful back to school routine.
Having an organized space will make sure that your clean out part lasts longer. Everyone will know or will have a space to put things back.
Organize Kids Closet
Make a list of new set of clothes that you may need to buy - this may include fall transitional items like jackets, sweaters, long pants, long sleeved tees etc. Make sure to take stock of the smaller things like underwear, socks etc
If you have different sets of clothes for school and for when you go outside for brunch / family outings / vacation etc, separate them. Hang / fold and keep the clothes that can be worn to school separately, so it is easier for your kids to know what they can pick out in the mornings.
You can also create a space in their closet where you pre make sets of outfits for each day of the week. Add shirts, pants, underwear, socks to it and label by day if you want, or just make 5 piles. You can do this on a Sunday and it will help with one less decision to make in the mornings for you or your kids.
I just make a set and hang it in a hanger together. You can use any of these things that some families use.
Create a “locker” space
I say locker for lack of better words. This is just a space for your kids to drop their things when they come in to the house and from where they can pick up their things as they head out in the morning.
This can be in your mud room or just a small bench and some wall hooks by the front door, if you don’t have a mud room like us.
Our bench has drawers beneath it which we use as the kids’ shoe space. The everyday school jackets and backpacks are hung on the hooks above the bench. We also have a little shelf above that where we keep things like masks, hats, caps, mittens in small bins.
Set up Homework and School paperwork storage space
This can be a file folder and some school supplies in a little caddy that you can move around anywhere. We don't have a dedicated homework space in our house, so V usually sits at the kitchen table or the dining table and does his homework while we make dinner and hang out in the kitchen.
I have a small acrylic caddy which I refresh with sharpened pencils, color pencils, markers, glue sticks, scissors, eraser and sharpener.
S loves to sit with V when he does homework, so she usually colors or something like that.
A small folder in this space helps put any paperwork that comes from school that you want to file for later. I periodically take this up to my office and file these in the folders it needs to go.
Meal planning / Meal prep
If you meal plan or meal prep, this is a great time to dust out your folder or whatever you keep your recipes in and keep that handy.
Take stock of any staple ingredients that you may have run out of and any prep containers or any such things you may need.
Even if you don't meal plan, have a few go-to dinners planned for the first few nights. Make sure these are the ones that everyone in your family loves, so you don't have to stress about that.
Organize family calendar
Whether you use a physical or digital calendar, make sure you have one for the family. It is extremely important as the kids grow up and have more after school activities, playdates, in school important events, other appointments etc.
We have an acrylic calendar in the kitchen, but it is kinda getting crowded with the various different things we need to track as a family, so we got an Echo Show 15. We have synced our family email id and its calendar to it, so everything that we put in there shows up on the Echo Show and it is so easy to track.
I know that it became quite a long list at the end, but I promise you that tackling any number of things will only make life easier for you as the busy school days start. Let me know in the comments, if this was helpful to you and if you would like to see more posts like this!