Tuesday, September 2, 2014

21 Our Favorite Organizing Tips for a Smooth School Year

Happy Monday Tuesday!  Did you have a great long weekend and soak up those final summer days?  I actually refuse to believe summer is over and plan to continue on loving up our nice weather every last day that I can.

So.... the boys went back to school this morning!  It is always so bittersweet and I got a little teary during our family dinner last night as we chatted about how quick the months went by and thinking of how quiet the house would be during the days again.  Yet at the same time, it will be so wonderful to get back to a good routine and find a productive groove again.

In celebration of the back-to-school season, I thought I would round-up some of my favorite posts for organizing with kids throughout the school year.  We didn't do anything new this year because last year we finally buttoned things up and had a good thing going.  No need to fix what is not broken, can I get a cheers to that?

One of the best things we ever did was create a cubby system for the boys.  We used the IKEA Besta cabinets to give the kids a space for their everyday shoes / boots, backpack, lunch sack, study boxes and electronics.  These cubbies are low to the ground and right inside our front door, so they are easy for the boys to access and the clutter is concealed in a pretty credenza style piece of furniture.

Inside of each cubby, is a study box for each boy to use at the counter, table or desk while working on their homework.  Inside is everything they may need to get a worksheet or project completed, and I have found that giving them each their own prevents any "battles" between them.

When school projects go beyond the basics, or when the crafty mood strikes, our organized craft cabinet holds all of the rest of their art supplies.

To display their art projects and to keep track of those important daily school correspondences, labeled fridge clips do the trick to keep the entire family up to date.

What do you do with all of the daily schoolwork and art projects that come home each day from school?  I prefer to file away the best of the best in an annual file and recycle the rest.

Another item we like to keep within reach is reading material.  We have book stations all over the house and have especially loved these DIY crate book bins.

Our younger two boys like to do their homework wherever mom is.... our oldest prefers a quiet and private spot.  So, we accommodated his request with a work zone ideal for a teen.

Our oldest has also started to have a bit of a social life.  To keep track of sleepovers, football games, test days, etc... a DIY chalkboard calendar has given him control of his schedule.

What we have learned over the years is that dedicated zones / stations are the key to our success.  School cubbies work great for supplies while baskets and bins in the cupboard and fridge for packing lunches have been pretty life changing.  So easy to pull out everything needed to pack a balanced meal!

In fact, it works so well, we do it with our breakfast foods now also!

The breakfast and lunch bins streamline our mornings, as does having clothes set out for the boys ahead of time.  We let them select their daily wears, but have them do this the evening or weekend before {depending on the craziness of the week}.  This is one less battle to face in the morning when we have three boys to get on the bus in a limited amount of time.

And speaking of laundry, we still lovity love our laundry bin system

Cubbies for daily school gear inside, cubbies for sporting goods outside.  I guess you could say we are fans of cubbies around here!

Of course, all of these systems would fail big time if we didn't have some sort of routine in place.  A quick visual printable of our morning and evening routines for the boys creates consistency and prepares them for what is ahead each day {after school routine coming soon!}.

And for those of you who recently went school shopping and are trying to come up with ways to make the most of those empty shoe boxes floating around, I rounded up my favorite shoe box storage solutions for you below.

Wishing you all a super successful 2014 - 2015 school year!  I would love to know what other tips keep your school year running smoothly in the comments below.


  1. Great tips -- and they'd work for adults too! I love the creativity boxes!

  2. I need to print those checkoff lists for my son again...we're having "getting dressed in the morning" issues! I have one of the "new" Expedit shelves coming in so I hope it can keep little toys tidy! :D

  3. I still love the craft cabinet! My son is six and I think we are going to have to do this for him. Up until now it was easy to get things out for him. Now I want him to be able to find them whenever he wants. He just started kindergarten and loves it! I hope you made it through back to school day just fine! :) Also, thanks for the idea for the box for remotes. Great one!

  4. I used to pack lunches the night before & then they were ready to grab & go in the morning. I still do that with my own lunch & it is a real time saver in the morning.

  5. Love your filing system for artwork and projects. I definitely want to set up something very similar. The papers get out of control so quickly!

  6. We are big fans of laying out our clothes the night before and also packing the lunches the night before. These two things help our mornings stay more streamlined!

  7. I love the cubby idea for your boys. I need to do that on a larger scale in our large mudroom - that way it could be a place for everyone in the family to have a space for their every day stuff to go or be dropped.

    Also love that you use Pottery Barn Kids for the boys back packs. Those hold up so well! I bought from them for my daughter's 1st backpack for kindergarten and boy did it hold up well.

    1. I agree! They hold up amazingly well! I purchased one for each boy during an end of school season clearance, and they lasted their entire elementary career. I am a fan!

  8. I really like how you managed to organized your kid's stuff so beautifully! Thumbs up!


  9. Thanks for the great tips! I love to come to your blog to find some inspiration to get off my duff and get stuff done!

    My only tip: I had too much stuff on my fridge, I attached a clear sheet protector to my cabinet door with 3M tabs to hold the school lunch menus. That way, I can just slide the old one out & the new one in, and my daughter can easily see which days are hot lunch days (we go through the menu and mark the days before I slide the menu into the protector).

    Thanks again for all the good inspiration!

  10. So many great ideas! I am very organized but we are struggling to get our son to stay organized.

  11. I am amazed how organized and pretty it looks! :O

  12. I swear, everytime I read your organizing tips I feel like I need to go shopping right away to get going on my efforts in my own house! You are so creative and everything really does seem to improve daily grind! Keep em' coming, thanks for sharing your amazing ideas with us :)

  13. A strange question perhaps; why do you brush your teeth before you eat breakfast in your morning routine?

    1. It is just something I had heard from our dentist to do and here is a comment I also received on another post from a dental hygienist reader:

      "It is important that you brush at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride. The best times are BEFORE breakfast and last thing at night before you go to bed.

      Eating and drinking naturally weakens the enamel on your teeth, and brushing straight afterward can cause tiny particles of enamel to be brushed away. It is best not to brush your teeth until at least one hour after eating."

      So this is how we do it, although, I know that everyone has different beliefs as to when is best. :)


  14. Hi Jennifer,

    I love reading your blog (I found your blog through Better Homes and Gardens). So many great ideas! Thank you! I love the metal "Create" bucket in the fourth picture. Can you please tell me where I can get that?

    1. So happy you found me! The caddy is a utensil caddy found at Target during their spring season (with their picnic items). I painted it and added my own chalk board label. xoxo!

  15. I am in awe and drooling. What an inspiration you are! All the ideas are awesome! The only problem I have now, is where to start LOL! I love looking at everything on your blog. I came across it accidentally, but WOW am I glad! Thank you!!

  16. Hello Jen, I love what you did with the Besta units! Can you tell me where you purchased the small gold pieces on the front corners of each "cubby". I love how adding these makes the Besta look so much better. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      The brass corners were found at Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-2-in-Satin-Brass-Flat-Corner-Brace-4-Pack-15071/202034207



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