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

7 smart time-saving hacks for parents on busy school days | cool mom picks back to school guide

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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 breakfastsmake-ahead smoothie packs make busy back-to-school mornings easier | via Stacie Billis of one hungry mama, for Cool Mom Eats

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.

2. Back to School Time Saver: Set up a lunch packing station
Back to school organizational lifesavers: School lunch packing station at Fabulously Frugal

  • 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.

Related: Tips to get kids packing their own lunches at any age

3. Back to School Time-Saver: Pre-plan the kids’ outfits for the week
Back to school organizational lifesavers: Use a sweater rack to organize outfits for the week at Kelly Leigh Creates

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
Back to school time-saving hacks: Setting alarms for school mornings

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
Back to school time saver: Create a morning routine hygiene bin so kids don't forget all they have to do before school!

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:

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Brush or comb
  • Deodorant
  • Mouthwash
  • 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 saver: Free printable after school chore charts from Canvas help keep kids on track each school day

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.

Related: 7 great Kindergarten printables for an awesome first year at school, most of them free

7. Back to School Time-Saver: Create a school file for each child. And use it!

Our favorite time saving hacks for back to school: Set up a file box or bin for each child so you can stay organized as you go!

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!