Back To School Organization

I know we are a bit late to the Back to the School game, however, school doesn't start until next week here in good ol' Wisconsin.  And I am in no rush to send my daily buddies back, so it has been a bit of a challenge switching gears around here.

But it had to be done.  I like to prepare a week or two ahead of time with things, so when the first day of school finally does arrive, it isn't complete chaos.

Not too much has changed when it comes to our systems with organizing and back to school, however, there were a few things that we tweaked from last year, in hopes of an even smoother year this year.

First up, a lunch station.

Two years ago we created a lunch station for our fridge.  It was a sammy makin' kit, and also had some sides, all in one place.  We have loved this system like crazy since the day we implemented it.

The basket contains fresh fruit and veggies, sliced cheese, lunch meat and dips and spreads.

Since it was working so very well, this year I questioned why we didn't do something similar for the dry portion of the lunch packing and making.  We had sammy cutters and apple slicers in the drawer, a basket for breads and a basket for snacks in the pantry, lunch boxes in the kid's cubbies.... everything was scattered and although the basket in the fridge rocked, the rest of the system still seemed a little silly.

So I analyzed our cabinets and there is one that is typically a thorn in my side and is where we keep the kid's containers for their lunch boxes... along with other random items that we use for entertaining....

I guess I should have offered up a bit of warning before opening and sharing this awful cabinet.  So many items that are only used every once in awhile, and it all just gets stuffed where there is an opening.  I always duck when I open the cabinet... just in case....

So I took everything out, and decided to reclaim the cabinet as our new kid's cabinet/lunch making station.

SO much better.  And it seems simple enough to maintain now.  All of the entertaining items, are now sitting on top of our sideboard in the dining room, waiting for a home.  Don't you just love how one organizing project trickles to another?

But back to the lunch cabinet.  I added washi tape and labels to the shelves to help the entire family stay on the same page, since we will all be using the cabinet.

The middle shelf holds all of the containers for the lunch boxes.  Dividers and sandwich keepers and their thermoses.  I also tossed napkins and sammy cutters there as well, instead of in the drawers below.

The bottom shelf holds a basket with breads, wraps, crackers and peanut butter.  Those are the sammy making items.

And the containers next to the basket hold the dry side items.  Although we also use some of those items for snacks, I divided them out to keep some in this cabinet as well.  That way, it is all in one happy place.

The top shelf holds all of the lunch boxes now, and stackable bins for some of the smaller things like...

Blank note cards and pens for writing little love notes to stick in their lunches.  Yeah, I am that mom....

Smaller utensils which fit nicely within their lunch boxes.

And reusable snack baggies, which are great for fruits, veggies and even dry snacks.

I also added some chalkboard vinyl on the inside of the cabinet {which is just a temporary option should I ever not want it there any longer}, so that we can write our lunch ideas and menu options there.

SO much better, and the cabinet actually has a purpose now!  Wahoooooooo!

A few other things we did to get ready, is go through all of the boys clothing.  This is the time of the year that I like to do an inventory, sort through hand-me-downs and see if the boys need any anything for school.

I counted every last item for each boy, did an inventory, and made a list for any items that needed to be purchased.  That way, I am not going out shopping blindly and overspending on items we don't need.

We use the kid's closet to plan their weekly outfits during the school year, this worked pretty well last year so we are going to stick with it again this year.

We also dug out the morning and bedtime routine printables, and stuck them up in the boy's bedroom near their closet.

We started the routine a week before school starts, just to be sure, again, that we are all set for next Tuesday morning!

The final item we tweaked this year is the boy's study boxes, which live within their school cubbies.

The cubbies have also been working really really well for us.  We clip all notes and papers that need attention for each boy, on the clipboard hanging from the door.

The baskets worked great for wet boots and winter items, and the backpacks are never lost in the morning when the bus drives up.

The idea with the study boxes, is that when it is homework time, each boy takes their personal box to the table to work from.  It has all of the tools they need for homework, so there are no excuses or delays when it is time to get things done.

However, they very quickly became messy, and after I corralled all of the school supplies within a pencil pouch, they suddenly went missing and ended up in the car, and at grandma's and anywhere else the kiddos wanted to craft....  So when it was time to do homework, they still didn't have all of their items.

So this year, I found dollar silverware organizers at Target, and stuck them inside of the box.

The organizers keep the supplies nice and separate so they are not all mixed at the bottom of the box, yet not portable enough for them to go missing a week after use.  Winner winner!  I even managed to find supplies in three different colors, so each boy will always know which supplies belong to which boy.

The box is large enough that I also stick a notebook right on top, so there is scratch paper at homework time.  Love it.

As far as storing papers I want to cherish and keep throughout the year, I am still loving our school paperwork system.  For artwork, I have fallen in love with the Artkive iPhone app.

So there you have it.  A round up of the few items we have been doing this past couple of days to prepare for the BIG day next week.  And you can bet, I am savoring every last second with my boy's this week.  I think I am empty nesting.  The house is never the same when they are all gone throughout the day....

Psssst!  You can find all school related posts here.

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