13 Aug 5 Tips for a Simpler Back to School
If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with it… the dreaded back-to-school paperwork. The first week of school finds me sitting at the dining room table, filling out emergency forms, signing Internet use permissions, and filling out teacher surveys about each kids’ strengths and goals. This is all important, but if you’re a parent with multiple kids in school, it can feel a bit overwhelming.
So today I thought I’d share some of my top tips for making back to school simpler and less stressful.
1. Hook It Up!
One of the best tips for simplifying any space is to make use of your vertical space, and going back to school is no exception. Install plenty of hooks hear your entryway for kids to hang backpacks, coats, and lunch boxes as soon as they walk in the door. Hooks are much easier for kids to use than hangers. Ever notice that every preschool and elementary school classroom relies on hooks for students’ coats and backpacks? Now you know why.
2.Drop It In!
This relates to paper, particularly the paper your kids are responsible for. Even as second graders, my kiddos came home with an impressive amount of homework, and I needed a way for them to manage it. I give each kid an inbox that is JUST FOR SCHOOLWORK. If the all caps didn’t drive the message home, let me repeat: give each child an inbox that is just for schoolwork. Do not let this become a dumping ground for toys, memorabilia, or the like.
The papers in my kids’ inboxes relate to whatever needs to be done for school the next day or for the upcoming week. It is an active space and my kids know to go there to retrieve homework and important papers. This will save you some stress, so get yourself to a dollar store for some inexpensive plastic inboxes. If you prefer, you can buy the stacking paper trays that you often see in office supply stores.
3. Minimize Supplies.
It’s really tempting this time of year to go hog wild and gorge yourself on 10 cent notebooks and 25 cent packs of crayons. But really, do your kids need folders and notebooks in every color of the rainbow? Perhaps they do, and you will know this because their teachers will tell you or a school supply list will come home informing you of it.
If you don’t get this message, rein yourself in and don’t purchase all those extra supplies. They will just become clutter around your house that you will have to store and maintain. If your child needs a new notebook halfway through the year, you can go buy him one then, yes even at the whopping price of $1 or $2. You will survive and you will be thankful that you didn’t have to keep an office supply store’s worth of inventory all year to get him that one notebook.
4. Write It Down!
One of the first things I learned during my teaching days was to fill out the entire year’s schedule before school even starts. Every early dismissal, every Monday off, every holiday concert was already on the calendar by the start of school. I guarantee your child’s school has a calendar somewhere, either printed in the front of your child’s school-issued planner or on their website. FIND THIS CALENDAR and ADD IT TO YOUR PERSONAL CALENDAR.
Before school even starts, I spend about 15 minutes adding every school event to our family’s Google calendar. Sure, it feels weird to type in “Last Day of School” before the first day of school has even started, but then I know the rhythm of my kid’s school year and I can plan accordingly. (And bonus, you can then toss that paper calendar from the school with no remorse!)
5. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
The amount of paper that comes home from school with your little darlings is immense, even in a digital age. I urge you, read that paper–as quickly as humanly possible–and then immediately throw away as much of it as you can.
After going through the papers my kids get from open house, I toss probably 85%. I don’t need 3 copies of the school handbook, 3 welcome letters from different teachers, or multiple copies of the school lunch menu. Keep only what you actually need to refer to throughout the year and toss the rest. If you need it in the future? A quick email to a teacher or stop by the school office will probably hook you up with that paper again. Very little in life is irreplaceable, and that definitely applies to nearly every paper your child brings home from school.
If you’d like some more tips on how I manage back-to-school paper with my kiddos, enjoy this video!
I hope those tips help you get your school year off to a more simplified start!
Cheers to less stuff and more you!
PS Ready to start your own decluttering journey? Get my FREE Minimalism Starter Guide and let’s get going!