The summer is drawing to an end and everyone is setting their sights on the end of the heat, football and fall leaves in the trees…and the start of a new school year!

When I start working with an organizing client in our initial meeting I talk to them about schedule. If they have kids this is something we discuss in depth as two of the most common sources of stress for families are school and extracurricular activity schedules. Often I hear that families are overwhelmed with the volume of everything that needs to be done to prepare for school and because of this,  the first week of school is very chaotic for them. This bleeds into the first few weeks being difficult and before you know it you are a month in before you can breathe and feel like you are on top of your new schedule.

I came up with a quick list of things that may be able to alleviate some of the chaos in your home in the next few weeks and allow you to have a great start to the new year.

Make lunches the night before.

This is something that I personally implemented in my home last year. Although I don’t do it every single day, the days that I do it the night before makes for a smoother running morning. It’s just one less struggle in the make breakfast, where are your shoes, get in the car, why don’t you have your backpack routine!

Pick out clothes and lay them out a week in advance.

In our house we have a small container with drawers that hold each child’s clothing for the five day week. They have all the appropriate items, shorts or pants, shirt, underwear and socks. They know when they wake up to go to that day’s drawer and get their clothing out. It’s a great way to get kids involved in dressing themselves and it also gives you one less thing to worry about in the morning.

If you are a uniform family and the kids may wear a part of their uniform more than once a week don’t fret. Just make the plan that the outfit will be laid out on top of the dresser or chair each morning. Same principle applies.

Keep shoes at the back door or in a central location.

This is a lifesaving, time saving, mind saving tip! Before I started putting shoes in one spot, I was losing my mind almost daily trying to figure out where everyone’s shoes were. The struggle was real! There was always one in one spot and I couldn’t fine the other and some days I really thought we were going to school with no shoes.

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About half way through the year I put in a rack by the back door with a bin for each kid with their name on it. This is where they put their shoes as soon as they come in the door. They know which bin is theirs and believe me if you put the wrong shoes in their bin they will tell you about it. Now no dirty shoes are worn in the house AND I always know where their shoes are.

Buy supplies two weeks before the start of school.

Pack supplies in bags one week before. Have the bag by back door the night before. This is a very important tip. Waiting until the last minute is never good for anything you are doing. I believe that anything that can be done in advance should be. Waiting until the last minute adds stress as well as putting you in a position to have to squeeze something in to what may be an already hectic day. Going ahead of time to purchase items gives you additional time to find items that may be out of stock or to find the best price. Many stores are offering online lists where you can all your school supplies and pick them up at the store.

Just as important as buying the supplies is putting them in the kids bags. Make sure that pens work and folders open. Get pencils in the pencil case. Throw away the packages and rip the tags off the back packs and be done until you add some last minute things the day before school starts.

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Pick a place where you will have your kids backpacks each night and put them there the night before school starts. All you have to do in the morning is put their lunch kit by the back pack and you are ready to walk out the door.

P.S. Just because some of the most wonderful ladies in my life are teachers, including my mom, I heard that you can buy pre sharpened pencils. Want your kids to be the favorite this year???? Buy those!!!

Make a meal plan for breakfast lunch and dinner.

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It’s great to take as much pressure off of yourself the first week of school but this would be a great tip to integrate into your life full time. Meal planning takes a load off your mind, allows your family to get involved in helping with meals and will also save you money at the grocery.

The day before you are going to the grocery (or worst case the morning of) you should make your meal plan. Plan what you will make for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week so you have every meal covered. Make your grocery list and shop. Post your meal plan on the fridge or a common area in the kitchen so everyone can see it.

Meal planning can be life changing. If the main cook in the house is running late there is no guessing by the others about what they were going to make that evening. Someone else can jump in and start the meal or just heat up what was already made. It’s a simple tip that will save you a lot of energy and worry.

Make a schedule for the morning for the kids to follow.

Having a schedule seems silly to a lot of people but I can assure you it’s a helpful tool. I have seen in my own home the time I can save when I have a good schedule in place. Below are some links to schedule you can fill in. We have a morning and evening schedule.

http://www.organizinghomelife.com/product/to-do-list-with-time-schedule-editable-version/

Plan to leave 10 minutes early.

Planning to leave early is great for any family with multiple children. It never fails no matter how prepared you are that somehow, some way, one of the kids loses something or needs to pee or is crying right when you need to leave. This extra ten minutes usually just means that I will barely skate out of the door on time but at least I’m leaving on time and not late. So score one for mom!

Start any new routines a week before the kids start school.

Don’t wait until the night before school to start the new schedule. Start a week or even two in advance so you can work out the kinks in your new schedule.

If your bedtime routine has been lax in the summer then get it back on track a week before and it gives everyone time to acclimate. Especially because if you are changing  the time the kids will go to bed, it’s going to take them a few days to get used to going to bed and waking up earlier.

Make plans for extracurricular activities.

Don’t forget to include extracurricular activities and sports into your schedule when you when you are planning your first week. Pack sports bags or musical instruments and have them ready to go as well. If any practicing had been going on in the house make sure that all of the essentials have made it back into the bag.

Do a run through.

Are your kids starting a new school? New bus? New activity? The week before school starts is a great time to do a dry run and see how long things take and where they are located. Especially with some of the crazy carpool lines we have in the area. Be sure you know where you need to be and when you need to be there. There is no better way to do that then to drive over there and see it yourself.

Breathe.

The first week is a challenge for everyone. Just remember to take it all in, snap a few pictures and enjoy. If it’s not perfect it’s fine but hopefully these tips will allow you to enjoy yourself a little more.