To give you a helping hand for the start of term, we’ve crowdsourced parenting wisdom with back-to-school hacks so good they’d make Marie Kondo blush.
We’ve all been there – the odd socks, missing toothbrush, tangled hair and general chaos of the early morning rush to school. Try out these ideas to avoid common Monday-morning pitfalls and put a spring in their step on the first day of term.
Easy-reach school bags
If there’s space in your hallway, a dedicated cubby hole and hook for each child keeps coats, bags and accessories all neatly in one place. Short of room? A simple row of hooks will work just as well. If you hang them low, kids can tidy away their own things after school (at least, in theory).
Grab and go uniform
This hack is so simple but it can save a lot of unnecessary rummaging in the morning – and help young kids to be more independent. Take five minutes on a Sunday to lay out complete outfits for each day of the week, so they’re ready to grab each day. You can use cheap canvas hanging shelves with days of the week tags, or hang everything on one hanger.
Roll up for homework
Homework and supplies often get scattered about the house. This portable trolley idea allows you to put jotters, worksheets and school books on one level, another for flash cards and other learning aids, and stationery on top. You can even add magnetic hooks to the sides for hanging book bags, or stick on timetables too. When it’s all done, just wheel it out the way. Another way of organising school supplies is to keep them in over-the-door shoe hangers, which also saves on space.
Fun challenges for little ones
Let’s face it, putting socks on is kind of a drag when you’re four. Why not make it into a game with these colour-coded reward sticks. Or set a timer and tap into kids’ competitive spirit – who can brush their teeth before the timer goes off?
Save time organising lunchboxes by making sandwiches the night before and keeping in the lunchbox in the fridge. Gather drinks, snacks and fruit in tubs in your cupboard and let your kids grab one item from each section to complete their lunchbox. Kids will enjoy picking their own lunch and it keeps cupboards tidy too.
Bonus tip: Wet and then lightly wring out a sponge, then place in a freezer bag overnight. This makes a cheap and lightweight alternative to an ice pack.
War on paper
Start of school means a daily deluge of artwork, worksheets, teachers’ notes, birthday invitations, permission slips and newsletters. Save time and stress by sorting them as soon as kids come home. Important papers can go in magazine files, and some parents also slip a plastic wallet into school bags to keep notes in – much better than finding them crushed in with the damp swimming kit. For works of art (and pages of scribbles), have a box for each child and sort through it all at the end of the year. Some parents make their favourites into a book, or keep a small selection of work in a ring binder of that year. Fun to look through when they’re all grown up!
Tween emergency kit
For younger kids it’s always handy to pack a small cosmetic bag with essentials like tissues, sun cream and hand gel. Once they hit their teenage years, girls in particular might appreciate an emergency kit for lockers or school bags with lip balm, tampons/pads, deodorant and any other items that might come in handy if they’re caught out.
Drawstring canvas bags are a cheap and convenient way to keep essential kit together. Have one each for swimming, gym, karate, dance and any other activities. These can easily be labelled or stencilled, or let your kids get involved by decorating with some fabric markers. Having this kit in bags means you can quickly grab it for the school bag or car, and saves hunting for missing goggles at five to nine.