“Back to school” those bittersweet words. Summer is coming to an end and the start of a new school year is upon us. Growing up on the East Coast my mother always said that when the “dogberry tree” started to sprout its berries, it means that it is time to go back to school. I still look for dogberry trees every September with that same thought in my mind, but for the first time I now have my own daughter starting school so the meaning rings a little differently. I also remember the hectic mornings of making sure my brothers and I had clean clothes, hair and teeth brushed, and had eaten a healthy breakfast. Mom getting ready to go to work, kisses and hugs and off we would go. I don’t know about you, but hectic mornings are not the way I would like to start each day. I have put together some helpful tips to keep your mornings a little more organized and a lot less hectic while getting in the groove of back to school this year.

Step 1: Designated backpack zone.

If you don’t have a mud room or area to easily store backpacks try hanging hooks in your closet. Or create a mudroom in your closet. I did this, mainly because I like to tuck things away but it also helps for someone who might not have a lot of space. A simple command hook will do. A specified area to grab bags in the morning and hang each evening is a simple and functional way to start and end each day.

Step 2: Create a morning checklist. 

Try using a free printable checklist like this one and place it in an old picture frame. Have your kids use a dry erase marker to check off the items on the list each morning. It is also easy to  clean at the end of each day while keeping paper consumption low. If they are too young to read, use images for brushing their teeth and hair. Once all things are checked then everyone knows you are good to go for the day without the need to ask “Did you brush your teeth?” 800 times.

Step 3: Organize clothes for day of the week.

If there is one thing my daughter loves, it’s picking out her outfits. We have created a space in her closet with a low tension rod where she can hang up each outfit for the week. If you want to take it one step further, use a divider to mark each day. This Ikea organizer is great for setting out each day with little effort. This will save the hassle of having to ask your kids to pick out their clothes each morning. It also creates independence for them to get dressed without your help.

Step 4: Lunches and snacks. 

I have had nightmares over lunches for the past few weeks and how I was going to go about putting them together each day. Because my daughter is very independent, I thought she might like to choose what she eats for her lunch (you might want to try this if you are encouraging independence as well). We have created pre-portioned options for lunches and snacks that are easy to grab and go. I plan to use our Planet Box along with these reusable ziplocs from amazon to save on plastic consumption.

I used to hate the lack of variety in my lunches as a kid so I want my children to be able to choose (to an extent) what they want to eat for lunch. Ask them to choose one from each category to keep it balanced and healthy.

Step 5: Create a communication station for things coming to and from school. 

After our first meeting with the school last spring, I came home with a folder full of information on policies and guidelines to follow for the year. I quickly misplaced that entire folder and found myself stressing about the day of our teacher orientation this summer because I couldn’t locate where I had put all these files. This could have been avoided if I had a designated area for important school information. It can be as simple as a folder on your bookshelf, a drawer in your kitchen or as elaborate as the front entrance in the first photo of this step. You know your needs best, so suit whatever is going to bring you peace of mind.