When we think back to school season, we’re also thinking about those time-saving hacks we dust off to ease out of the summer groove and ready for our September (or August!) routines.
While our Annual Back to School Guide mostly features the coolest new backpacks, lunch bags, and other school gear, we always try to helpful tips for you, parents. So today, I’m sharing the time-saving hacks that we all could use. Because finding even a few new time-savers can be a lifesaver.
Top: clothing organization system via Kelly Leigh Creates
7 time-saving hacks for families during back to school season
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Rest assured that unlike the time-saving advice for back-to-school in some other posts we’ve found, these are smart hacks that I actually use in my own household of four kids. Like, you don’t need me to tell you “teach the kids to put on their own shoes,” or “do the dishes at night,” right?
We hope some of these ideas work to help you save some time too.
1. Back to School Time Saver: Make-ahead breakfasts
Make-ahead individual smoothie packs: Stacie Billis for Cool Mom Eats
We’re longtime fans of make-ahead breakfast ideas and this is a good time to start building on your repertoire–especially if you can get the kids to do more of the work.
- Delicious make-ahead breakfasts on Cool Mom Eats include recipes like Baked Oatmeal Bites and Healthy Freezer Breakfast Burritos
- Make-ahead smoothie packs (above) from Stacie Billis of One Hungry Mama are genius! She’s even put together a helpful video tutorial. (Though of course you can use Stasher bags or other reusable containers instead of baggies.)
- These breakfasts that kids can make themselves (mostly) are so creative, including an English Muffin Breakfast Pizza, Yogurt Parfaits, and Pancake and Fruit “Tacos.”
- If you have older kids, these breakfasts tweens and teens can make themselves are a definite time-saver…because you’re not doing anything!
- Instant Pot fans have plenty of options of course. We’d start with these 4 favorite make-ahead breakfasts for your Instant Pot.
2. Back to School Time Saver: Set up a lunch packing station
- Organize a lunch packing station like this one I spotted at Fabulously Frugal. It helps kids pack their own nutritional lunch each day while saving you time each morning. This system helps them see how many of each type of item they should grab to put in their lunch boxes, and they still get to choose what those items are.
- Also read my tip for packing kids’ lunches for an entire week in under 30 minutes, to make your school mornings go even faster — I do it for my own four kids and I know you can make it work for yours, too.
3. Back to School Time-Saver: Pre-plan the kids’ outfits for the week
If deciding what to wear in the morning is a time-consuming affair for your kids, get it all done at once over the weekend. Genius hack from Kelly Leigh Creates: Use a sweater rack to keep each outfit neat and organized. This way kids can take all the time they want Sunday nights to pick out outfits, but once they’re set…they’re set. Unless you know, there’s a surprise rainstorm or blizzard that require some adjustments.
4. Back to School Time-Saver: Use multiple alarms to stay on schedule
If your family tends to move slower in the morning, create a minute-by-minute alarm schedule on your smart phone to help get you out the door on time. Liz does this in her household and it’s worked particularly well for her youngest teen who responds well to the various alarms so she knows when she should be in the shower–as well as out of it! Customize it for your family considering all your school morning tasks like wake up, get ready, finish breakfast, pack up, out the door.
Pro tip: You can set up alarms to repeat (say, every M-F or every Thursday only) so you remember to do something specific on certain days like “pack baseball uniform.” Plus, you don’t have to remember to turn off your alarm on a Sunday when you want to sleep in! It’s already done for you.
5. Back to School Time-Saver: Create a morning routine hygiene organizer
Homeschoolers like me often use “morning baskets” to get learning started, so I love the idea of putting together a morning routine hygiene basket for the kids using these cute foldable canvas storage bins. If you like something more sophisticated, the grid design bathroom bins is really nice. Fill with whatever they need to get ready:
- Dental floss
- Brush or comb
- Contact solution, Invisalign trays, etc.
This way you don’t waste time (and make yourself crazy each morning going the list: Did you…brush? Floss? Use deodorant?
6. Back to School Time-Saver: Print out an after-school chore chart
Time-saving hacks for back to school aren’t just for mornings! Canva offers plenty of templates for after-school routines/chores you can use to keep kids on track before they run off to play with friends or dive into video games. Print out a single page and frame it behind glass, and kids can check off tasks using a dry erase marker each day–or go old school and pin to a cork board (love this one to keep it from getting cluttered!) or even the fridge door.
7. Back to School Time-Saver: Create a school file for each child. And use it!
Another favorite time-saver for busy school days is to set up a nice file organizer box for each child at the start of the school year. Then, instead of sorting through a mound of school papers every few months you can try to stay on top of it. Organize files by topics like schoolwork, contact info, artwork, dance class, soccer.
Use labels to differentiate each child, or this pretty file box comes in lots of colors and patterns so you can choose a different color for each kid.
Alternately, you can DIY using a clear plastic file bin in legal size (helps with the oversized artwork)– that way, kids can easily see what’s inside, and help organize their own files too. Winner!