How To Get Organized for Those Back-to-School Mornings

(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Some of the moms out there are already dealing with that morning rush that comes with a new school year. Others of us are dreading it. And we can all benefit from taking a big breath and trying to get our mornings organized. Some things will always seem futile, such as pleading with the children to let us know in advance about things they need for a school project. Other things, however, can be made easy. Or at least easier with some careful planning.

One big mistake we made last year was indulging our children in some final late-nights. We should have done that the week before the week before school. This year, we returned everyone to earlier bedtimes a full two weeks before school. We also woke them up early. Yes, that’s never easy. It seems criminal to not let your child get as much sleep as possible, but they’ll get that back when they go to bed early. Things work out that way.

We also got ourselves back to a regular school meal schedule. It was nice making a late breakfast for a while, but we were getting up earlier ourselves to get everyone fed by the time that it would be ready to leave for school. We also became a lot more regimented about snacks and lunchtime. That’s especially helpful for children heading into kindergarten and pre-school.

We’ve already headed off to the $1 Store for some old 2013 calendars. We’re getting a fresh start by getting set to plainly cover all of the upcoming dates that will be listed in stacks of papers from the school board. (Well, we get emails, too.) We also have a small whiteboard that we’re keeping in the kitchen for quick updates. And we’ve even gotten determined enough this year to try color-coding the kids. That’s no more complicated than green ink for the 4th grader, red ink for the 6th grader, and so on.

There are some high-tech alternatives, of course, but we really appreciate the ease of seeing all this at a glance while getting ourselves together in the morning. That’s also involved us clearing off the refrigerator with a set space for our memos, etc. Any important works of art have been set away safely.

Then there are the basics. We’ll get the breakfast table set while cleaning up after dinner. We lay out the children’s clothes for the next morning. We’ll do the usual evening search into the deep recesses of everyone’s backpacks, to make sure nothing’s been forgotten that we need to know. And–in our homes–we plan a bathroom schedule for who’s getting ready at what times during the start of the day.

And have we timed our drives to the schools and our walks to the bus stop? Yes, we have.

It’s also always a good idea to visit your school’s website (or make an old-fashioned phone call) about which documents are expected. Also use the start of the school year as an opportunity to make sure that we have everyone’s files right at hand and up to date. There’s no reason to go searching like crazy for birth certificates and medical documentation–which always seem to be needed for some new reason. And you’ll likely learn they’re expected early in the morning, because mornings are hard. But these simple tips should help keep all that difficulty to a morning minimum.