11 Ways to Get Organized for the Back-to-School Chaos
It's almost time to head back to school, which means it's time to get the house in tip-top shape for an organized and successful school year. These clever tips can head off chaos without adding to the expense of back-to-school shopping.
Related: 16 Budget-Friendly Backpacks for the New School Year
When phones and chargers continually end up in a tangle on the kitchen counter or get lost at crucial times, it's time to organize them -- and that doesn't mean buying a pricey charging station. One frugal idea is to use large binder clips ($5 for 12 on Amazon) to corral the cords. Clip them to the side of a table, desk, or shelf near an outlet and plug each charger into a power strip. Then thread the charging end up through the silver prongs of a binder clip to prop it up until the next low-battery alert.
Use an inexpensive utility caddy to house all homework supplies, and kids are one step closer to completed assignments. Inside the caddy, use mason jars or other small jars to hold pencils, markers, pens, paper clips, sticky notes, tape, scissors and anything else a child might need. Multiple kids can share one, or make one caddy per child to customize the supplies.
To keep track of backpacks and coats, hang one double-hook per child on the wall with a clipboard above, labeled with the child's name. Use the clipboard to attach important papers that need to be filled out and returned to school, as well as homework assignments to be turned in.
School mornings can be crazy, but organizing outfits for the week ahead can help. Get a five-shelf organizer (about $12 on Amazon) to hang in each child's closet. Assign each shelf a day of the week and place everything the child needs to get dressed for school in that spot. Fill it up on Sunday, so any arguments about what to wear don't make everyone late during the week.
Make after-school snacks easy -- and give kids some input -- by stockpiling options ahead of time. Place a plastic bin in the pantry where every one can reach it, and fill it up weekly with snacks that kids can grab on their own. Save money by skipping store-bought, individually wrapped snacks and dividing a larger package into small plastic baggies.
Cozi is one of the best apps for keeping everyone organized on the go. With one account, every family member can sign in on any device to update or view the family calendar, grocery lists, meal plans, and more. Users give the app an average of 4.5 stars on iTunes and say it's incredibly easy to use. Upgrades are available for a cost, but the free version, available for Apple, Android, and Windows, might have everything you need.
One way to keep everyone in the house on the same page is by designating one large wall or corner a family command center. This can serve as a place for meal planning, list making, bill and coupon storage, a charging station, and whatever else keeps the family organized.
An expensive chore chart won't magically make the kids do chores, so don't spend a fortune on one. Instead, get a few small, dry-erase boards ($7.20 on Amazon) and assign one to each child (and any forgetful adults). Hang it on the wall at eye level, and make a chore list for each person in the house.
Not only does this organizer have a trendy rustic look, it's a clever use for something that might otherwise be thrown away: Hang an old shutter in your command center for an instant way to organize mail, bills, school paperwork, and coupons.
Instead of having a notepad floating around the house, try hanging a clipboard with blank paper in the family command center. Not only does this keep the grocery list from getting lost, everyone has access to it and can add what they need.