Staying organised throughout the school year

Staying organised throughout the school year - Ever-changing Life of a Mum

School is almost back and this year I’m determined to stay organised by putting a few simple strategies into place.

Even after all of these years, I often find it takes me several weeks to get back into the swing of things once my children return to school but I’ve found some simple ways to help keep on top of things in our family.

Let’s face it, getting organised and staying organised goes well beyond the chime of the 3.30pm school bell. Beyond the school lunch box there are after school activities, meal planning, appointments and family schedules to take into account.

Here are some ways I find useful to keep everyone on track in my family …

List of lunch box foods

I try to get up at least half an hour earlier than my girls in the morning so I can pack their lunches in the quiet, before the chaos hits! But sometimes I’m unsure of what sandwich filling to pack so I have to wait until they get up to quickly ask them what they might like, which then kind of defeats the whole purpose of getting up a little earlier. My girls are known to take a peek into their lunch boxes before they head off to school and I really dislike having to repack them if they don’t like what they see. I much prefer to know that they are going to school with a healthy lunch that they will eat.

So last week I sat my girls down and asked them what type of fillings they like best in their sandwiches, if they are happy for a sandwich to be swapped with a wrap/rice cakes/crackers, plus any other types of food they are happy to have packed in their lunch box.

Obviously, each child is different, but over time I have discovered the lunch box formula that works with my girls is a sandwich (or wrap, rice cakes or hot food in thermos), two types of fruit/vegetables and two snacks (one sweet and one savoury).

I still sneak in a new type of food in their lunch boxes every now and then to try to expand on their ideas, but the list I have prepared is a great reminder for me in the morning. This way, they have variety in their lunch box, instead of reaching for the same foods because they are fresh in my mind from the day before, and I also know they are getting the healthy fuel their bodies need throughout the day.

Morning routine chart

My girls are aged 7 and 11 and it still amazes me how I need to lead them through their mornings even though it’s exactly the same routine they have completed every weekday for several years now. Sigh.

We have used routine charts in the past, especially when they were younger and starting school, so this year I’m dragging them out again to help keep us organised and get the year off to a good start.

These charts will be laminated with a copy placed in the kitchen as well as in each of my girls’ bedrooms. That way, I can just point them in the direction of the chart to keep them on track throughout the morning and step in to help them out if they really need it. If your children are younger, you can include graphics or even photos of themselves completing these tasks to help them along the way. I’m really hoping it will foster some independence skills and confidence in their own ability to get things done.

My children’s school morning routine goes something like this:

  • Have breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Make beds/tidy room
  • Brush teeth
  • Hair
  • Pack school bag – lunch box, drink bottle, reader case/homework bag, special items (show and tell, library bag, etc)
  • Put on socks and shoes
  • Off we go!

The television and other devices only go on in the morning after all tasks are completed otherwise it really slows us down.

Family calendar and weekly schedule

Weekly family schedule - Staying organised throughout the school year - Ever-changing Life of a MumMy husband and I sync the calendar on our phones so we both know exactly what is going on. Every member of the family has a different colour assigned to them, along with ‘Bills’ and ‘Special days’ like birthdays, anniversaries and so on.

Each Sunday, I sit down and take a look at the week ahead in our electronic calendar and write this information down into a weekly schedule that I then keep on display in the kitchen. To some it may sound like I’m doubling up, but I find it a great way to remind myself of what we have coming up in the week ahead, plus it’s on available for every family member to see.

The weekly family schedule also has a list of the meals I plan to make for dinner each day (see more in meal planning section below) as well as my children’s specialist classes and other important days coming up at school so I know when they need to bring along their library bag, show and tell, remind them they have school choir practice at lunch and so on.

Last year, I used a whiteboard planner I picked up from Kmart and ruled it up into sections for my two school children plus another column for other tasks, such as bills that need to be paid, appointments and so on. It worked really well, but this year I’m trialling a diary that I leave sitting out on the kitchen bench and may use the whiteboard just for meal planning.

Weekly school timetable

Once school is back, I like to put together a list of specialist classes my daughter’s have on each day of the week, such as sport, computers, library, art, music, LOTE and choir practice. I find it really helps them get prepare for the day and sometimes they may choose their uniform depending on what they have on a particular day, for instance if it’s a sports day my girls may choose to wear a polo shirt and shorts instead of a dress. Last year, I had this information included on the weekly family schedule, but this year I plan to print and laminate a separate timetable that sits next to the morning routine chart.

Meal planning

Each week, before shopping for groceries I write out a meal plan for the week ahead. I use my calendar and take into consideration my family’s weekly schedule and after school activities when deciding what dinners to make during the coming week to ensure I have enough time to make them. I make sure this plan is somewhat flexible so I can easily swap meals around in case we don’t feel like eating something on a particular night.

School paperwork

School notices file - Staying organised throughout the school year - Ever-changing Life of a MumIt’s easy to feel inundated with all the notices that come home from school as well as alerts on the school app. I try to deal with each of these as soon as they arrive so they are not put aside and later overlooked. If I can’t action it straight away, I clip the notice to the front of the fridge and make a note in my diary so it can be completed as soon as possible.

Once it has been done, I then add any necessary dates into the family calendar on my phone and pop the paperwork into a folder that I keep in the kitchen. I have a magazine file that contains different coloured plastic folders labelled for each member of the family as well as bills and other paperwork I need to keep, such as orders, tickets and so on, so I can quickly grab it out when needed. Each school holidays, I try to go through the file to sort out any paperwork that is no longer required.

I hope you find a few of these tips useful for your family and they help you stay organised for the school year ahead. Good luck!

How do you stay organised throughout the school year? Any tips you can share about what works well with your family?

26 thoughts on “Staying organised throughout the school year

  1. I am finding it harder and harder to be an organised Mum as my kids get older. My school aged kids are 15, 14, 14, and 12 and live quite spontaneous lives, which makes it difficult for a planner like myself. I miss them being little and easy to schedule 🙂

  2. Wow Erika you are very well organised! I am similar to you and plan meals for the week, keep magazine holders for notes etc from school and keep a list on the fridge of all the school activities and after school activities so I don’t forget. I will have to create a visual schedule for my youngest who is starting school this year. She can be a little slow in the mornings so this should help in getting her ready 🙂

  3. You are super organised – I find it hard just to keep track of hubby and I! I’m a big fan of doubling up with the diary, we have a paper calendar at home and we share an electronic calendar too and it’s a big, fat, yes for meal planning. It takes a bit of effort but it makes life so much easier!

  4. Yes, my routine exactly! With six kids to juggle, this is how we do it. 😉
    This year, I have purchased an A4 sized, custom printed family diary. It has all of my kids’ names within and I have instructed them on how to fill it out. From there, I can add it all to my Erin Condren planner and be sorted.
    I am not looking forward to the school year! ;(

  5. I’m definitely going to meal plan this year – it’s not something I have ever done before but I know I will have to do it with going back into corporate work.

  6. Way to go and I am so in agreement about written planning and organisation. My DD and DIL have similar planning – fridge weekly plan, meals too, shopping needs, a spread sheet with who needs Library book, sport uniform etc..It IS the only way! I always had frozen lunches at the ready, and a box of snacks and water bottles in the fridge for ME and the kids to grab as I was off the school too!! This is a wonderful post and I hope it helps many!

  7. Awesome tips, I am definitely going to try some of these. And I really need to start meal planning!

    My best way of staying organised is to do it all the night before. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works best in this house thanks to my lack of being a morning person! So all lunches and bags are packed the night before because I would much rather go to bed half an hour later than get up half an hour earlier in the morning, and I am never in my best mood, lol! So the more I can cut down on doing in the morning the better. It’s going to be interesting with my first starting school next week, how we will go, but my sister got me a really cool whiteboard activity/reward chart that I am going to use for the girls so hopefully that will make things a bit easier and also encourage a bit of independence on their behalf. If they do all of their jobs/activities each week then they will get a little bit of money to put in their money boxes which they can then use as spending money when we go on our cruise in September. Fingers crossed it works!

    • Thanks for sharing your tips. I’ve tried making lunches the evening before and while it definitely does take the pressure off in the morning, I just find that by the end of the day I’m totally worn out and the last thing I want to do is make lunches! Good luck with your daughter starting school next week, I hope all goes well 🙂

  8. I did so many of these things when my kids were little. Our morning routine chart still hangs on the notice board, for sentimental reasons. We have two baby adults and a mid-teen now.
    I still menu plan religiously, and all our school paperwork has a bulldog clip on the noticeboard (only one kids’ worth of paperwork left these days), and another for the bills, which are ordered according to due date.

  9. You’re so organised! I can’t really menu plan for various reasons including sensory but we do our best. And their schedules are ever-changing but a big calendar helps. Now the kids are in high-school there are no reminders to parents; they expect kids to tell parents and keep up with things. So that’s a challenge in itself. I really do my best.

  10. Great list – I do all of these. This year I am doing Project 333 and a month into it I am already seeing a change in how my mornings – I am limited to choices of what to wear, however the options of these items are endless. The other thing I do is get my 11 year old daughter to pre-pack her lunch with dry products and fruit the night before, then all she needs to do is make sandwiches/buns and add any chilled products (yoghurts etc). I am also aiming to get up half an hour before the kids, so I can get my stuff done first and be ready for when the kids get up.

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