Tips for an Organized School Year


I think I’ve mentioned that my kids started back to school last week–yes, I know it’s early!  They’re on a modified year-round schedule, so they get two weeks off in October, two in December, and two in March.  We love that part of the school calendar, but starting back a month before Labor Day isn’t always fun.

Since Amy and I were at the Haven Conference last week, I feel like I’m a little behind on the school year already.  I’ve been reviewing some of the systems we have in place to keep things running smoothly in our house and thought I’d share them with you.  Don’t worry, even if you don’t have kids (or they’re grown and gone), there’s a lot here that will still be useful!

First, our chalkboard wall calendar is a must and it’s one of the first things I put up when we move.  I fill it out for the upcoming week on Sunday afternoons and then everyone knows what’s on the agenda.  If I’m really organized, I even put the dinner plan on the calendar, too (my kids pretty much wake up every morning and ask “What’s for dinner?”).

Easy DIY Vinyl Chalkboard Wall Calendar | 11 Magnolia Lane

|  DIY vinyl wall calendar  |

Next, I try to make sure that my fridge and pantry are as organized as possible.  My kids are expected to pack their own lunches these days, and I want them to choose healthy foods, so it pays to spend a bit of time making sure they’re easy to find.

Amy uses this great system at her house:

lunch kits marked copy

| Lunch kits  |

I use a similar system; the chalkboard labels are so helpful, too (you can buy the vinyl stickers here and the darling metal-rimmed signs are on sale here).

Lunchbox items organized in refrigerator | 11 Magnolia Lane

|  Fridge Organization  |

Last year, we put our chore card system into use and when I remember them they work like a charm!  They’re really specific so if the kids take the time to read them, they know exactly what I want them to do without needing to ask a lot of questions.  This is one of our most popular post and the cards are a free download–you can also customize and edit them as needed for your family.


|  Customizable Kids’ Chore Cards  |

An organized drop zone is essential for all the gear that goes in and out on a daily basis–backpacks, jackets, sports gear, lunch boxes, library books, and on and on.  Amy’s closet-turned-mudroom is prettier than mine, but trust me, it doesn’t look this pretty in real life because her three kids actually use it:

Closet turned mudroom | 11 Magnolia Lane

|  Closet turned mudroom  |

My drop zone is the small coat closet just inside our garage door; I took the door off and made it into a similar space (kids just do better with hooks for some reason!).

DIY closet turned mudroom for renters | 11 Magnolia Lane

|  Mudroom for renters  |

Did you notice that we have the same Lilly for Target tote bag?  We buy the same stuff ALL THE TIME, even though we live in different states.

Last but not least, it’s always fun to send in a back to school treat for the class.  Last year, I made up these apples with caramel dip and they were a big hit.

Apple and caramel treats for school | 11 Magnolia Lane

|  Printable apple tags  |

I’ll be back next week with a few of the must-buy items on my back to school list; they’re all things that have made my life so much easier and organized and I can’t wait to share them with you.


Thanks for stopping by–


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  1. The kiddos around these parts started back this week. no modified schedule! my daughter, who is a teacher, was telling me that they don’t get out until december 22nd or 23rd for christmas break!! crazy.
    love the chalkboard calendar. we (mom) always packed lunches the night before. the non-refrigerated items went directly into their lunch boxes and the refrigerated on a designated shelf in the frig. easy to grab in the morning. less hassle at 6 am!!

  2. Linda Pemberton says:

    Love your ideas! I’m the grandmother taking kids to school, picking them up in the afternoon, and getting them to baseball, swim practice, etc! si your ideas work at my house as well!

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