It’s that time again! Nights are getting cooler, school buses are practicing their routes, school supplies fill the aisles of stores, kids are running out of time to get that summer reading done, and parents are running through the endless list of things they’ve got to get done before the first day. What if there was a back to school checklist you could use to make sure you get it all done? Oh wait, there is.
Closet Inventory & Shopping
No doubt your kiddos have grown this summer. Before doing any back to school clothes shopping, be sure to assess what your kids have and what they need. This is also a great time to clear out those items that are too small.
New sneakers are always a must in our house. We also grab a few outfits and staples like socks and underwear. Make a simple list with your child before you head out. If you’ve got a school dress code or uniform, brush up on details. Stick to the list as much as possible. Remember, these clothes will only fit for a little while, so keep them basic, practical and comfortable.
School Supply Inventory & Shopping
Save the school supply list to your phone or print it out.
You probably also have some extra school supplies hiding in a cabinet somewhere. Dig those out and take inventory before purchasing new. Items like pencil boxes, rulers, and scissors can likely be used again, but you’ll need fresh crayons and pencils.
Check your child’s backpack and lunch box. Do they need to be replaced or can they survive another year?
Simple & Sustainable Tip: I highly recommend purchasing a quality backpack from a company such as Land’s End, LL Bean, or Pottery Barn Kids. During sales, these bags are little as $25-$30 and last 2-3 years of everyday school use.
A good general rule with kids is, if you don’t want to lose it, label it. Whether you’re using a sharpie, a sticker, or a custom vinyl label — label it all!
Prep a Homework Space
Whether you’re creating an in-depth homework station, setting up a desk in a bedroom, or creating a homework supply caddy, get it ready. If you have a specific homework space, clear it out, organize it, and make sure it’s stocked up with common school supplies.
If your kids will work at the kitchen table, clear some space in a cabinet for a small caddy and stock that with items like pencils, an eraser, crayons, markers, and a ruler. Pull it out at homework time and clear it away in time for dinner.
No one wants shaggy back to school pictures. Schedule the haircuts a few weeks early because back to school is busy at the salon.
Plan a Morning Routine
You don’t have to set a minute-by-minute itinerary, but do create a general timeline of the tasks you need to do and the times you should be doing them. Remember to add a few buffer minutes in.
Go over this plan with your kids. Tell them when you’ll be waking them up, what you’ll expect them to do, and when you need to walk out of the house.
Plan an Evening Routine
Do the same thing with your evening routine that you did with your morning routine. Discuss with your kids how they’d like their evening and bedtime to look. Some kids do best when they stay in school mode and do homework right away, other kids need some downtime before they jump back into work.
Remember to factor in making dinner (and cleaning), going through folders, checking papers, packing lunches, and a relaxed bedtime routine.
Looking for a simple lunch routine? Have your kids pack their own lunches while you clean up after dinner. Give them help by prepping lunch foods beforehand. Here’s the lunch packing routine that works for us.
If you’ve got a child just starting kindergarten or one who hasn’t attended in-person school in a while (thanks, Covid), you may want to practice packing and eating lunch from a lunch box. Opening juice boxes and snack packs can be tricky.
Simple & Sustainable Tip: Grab a few reusable sandwich bags and water bottles. They’re a bit more work to wash, but they keep single-use plastic out of landfills. My favorite bags are Russbe bags and Contigo water bottles.
Prep & Reset Devices
If you’ve got children in the upper elementary grades and older, it’s likely they have or will need some kind of computer or electronic device which they use to complete their school work. Pull these out from hiding, dust them off, charge them up, and make sure they’re working properly.
You can also clear the memories, delete old files, or reset the user options, if needed.
Prep First Day Signs
Are First Day of School signs still a thing? If you use the same ones every year, get them out, dust them off and get them ready. If you don’t have one but want one, aim for something simple, timeless (remember, one day a 17-year-old will hold this), reusable, and with plenty of room to write. This one is cute.
If you don’t have a sign and don’t want to spend money on a onetime use item, grab a felt letter board and use it as decor when it’s not the first day of school.
Safety Tip: If you plan to share this picture on open social media accounts, be careful about the details you include on the signs.
I’m a big fan of alarms. I set one for waking up, one for when we need to be leaving the house, and one for when I need to head out to pick up my kids. If your mornings are extra-chaotic, you can also add a 5-minute warning alarm before you need to leave the house.
Add them to your phone or your smart device and set them to go off every day of the week.
Optional: Teacher Gift
One way to start off the year on a positive note is by grabbing a quick and simple gift for your child(ren)’s teacher(s). When I say “simple”, I truly mean simple. My go-to ideas include a package or two of thank-you notes from the stationary section at the dollar store, a candy bar, or maybe a package of colored pens or highlighters (all teachers appreciate nice pens).
It’s a great way to brighten a teacher’s day and let him or her know that you support and appreciate them.
Your Back to School Checklist
That was a lot to do. Good thing I wrote it out in a checklist for you! Download the file below to print it out. There are even some extra lines so you can fill in your own tasks.
Back to School Checklist
No one wants summer to end, but time marches on. Use this checklist to get your Back to School prep completed and organized so you and your child can start off the school year on the right foot by using this back to school checklist! What else is on your list? Drop a note below and let me know!