Back to School: 5 Systems that Will Get Your Family Organized

Get your family organized for back to school by putting these five simple systems in place!

5 Simple Systems to Get You Organized for Back to School

Part of me feels like last school year just ended. And the other part of me realizes that the kiddos will be heading back for the new school year before we know it! Eeek!

Both of my boys will be heading to new school buildings this year– one to the upper elementary school and one to the middle school. So I really wanted to make sure to get them as organized as possible so that the transition will be a smooth one.

This time of year can feel hectic for sure. When I really sat down and thought about it though, I realized that there are really just five core systems that we need to have in place to stay organized for the school year. And if I have a plan for those 5 areas, we should be good to go!

5 Simple Systems that Will Keep Your Family Organized During the School Year

1. Paperwork

When Connor first went off to school, I think one of the things that surprised me most was the amount of paperwork he brought home. It was craziness! I quickly learned that I needed a system to deal with the boys’ papers in an organized way, so we made a plan.

Each day when they get home, we take all of the papers out their backpacks. I try to fill out any forms that needed to be returned right away and put them back into a folder to be taken to school.

If there are any homework packets or other paperwork that will need to be kept at our house temporarily, I designate an “inbox” area for it. In our townhouse, I had a little inbox system in our command center in the entryway.

Love the ideas in this post for keeping kids organized for the school year! She talks about 5 systems of organization each family should have in place-- so smart! Click through to see them all!

In our current house, we have a spot in one of the “junk drawers” in our kitchen that acts as the inbox.

Organized Junk Drawer

Any “special” artwork that the boys are especially proud of makes its way to a little display in their playroom. I change out the display every few weeks. Everything else (which is the majority of the paperwork) goes in the trash/recycling.

Pegboards with Art Displayed

When I’m ready to take down papers from the display, I take photos of the ones I want to remember. These photos will make their way into a yearly photo book that I create for each of my boys. It’s an easy (and space-saving) way to remember the highlights of their year.

Kids' Artwork saved in a small photo book

You can read more about my system for organizing kids’ paperwork in this post.

After I photograph the memorable pieces, everything gets recycled so we don’t have piles of paper clutter everywhere!

2. Bookbags, Coats, and Shoes

Another area where I realized we needed a system was the boys’ bookbags, coats, and shoes. When the boys were little and we lived in our townhouse, we created a mini mudroom nook with hooks that were low enough for them to reach. This made it easy for them to hang up their own coats and backpacks at the end of the day. I also placed a small basket in the nook for shoes.

Love the ideas in this post for keeping kids organized for the school year! She talks about 5 systems of organization each family should have in place-- so smart! Click through to see them all!

(You can read more about how we created our mini mudroom nook in this post.)

Our current house has a mudroom area (and the boys are taller now!), so they each have a hook and know to hang up their coats and backpacks here as well.

Mudroom with coats and backpacks hanging up

I used the basket strategy for shoes again, placing a basket for each boy inside the mudroom closet. They like to kick off their shoes and bank them off of the back wall of the closet and into their basket. Whatever works, right?! 😉

Shoe bins in an organized coat closet

3. Clothes

Clothes seem to be another area where systems of organization are important, especially during the school year. When we’re trying to get out the door in the morning, the last thing I want to worry about is finding the outfit they want. So I tried to make it as easy as possible for them to get to their own clothes.

Our boys share a room, and there is only space for one dresser, so I really had to make the most of every inch! In order to fit all of their clothes, I file fold them rather than stack them flat. Along with saving space, file folding also allows them to see all of their clothes at once so they can quickly find what they’re looking for.

(You can read more about how we organize and fold our clothes in this post.)

drawer of file folded t-shirts

We tore out the basic wire shelf and added a closet system to maximize space in their small shared closet as well. (We used IKEA’s ALGOT system, which is now called BOAXEL.)

Organized Kids' Clothes Closet using IKEA's BOAXEL System

Putting in a second row for hanging clothes allowed us to store more. And it also made it easier for little Caleb to be able to reach his own stuff!

4. Homework

Since our boys are a little older now (10 & 12 at the time of this writing), they are pretty self sufficient when it comes to homework. We will do a quick check to make sure they have everything completed. And of course we help them when they ask. But for the most part, they take care of it themselves.

When they were younger, Donnie and I each had two days of the week where we knew we were responsible for managing homework time. (They usually didn’t have homework on Fridays.)

Mom helping two boys with homework at a kitchen island

Typically we give the boys about a half an hour of downtime to unwind when they get home from school. Then we have them pull up a seat at the kitchen island, and they usually get everything done before dinner. Since they know what to expect and have a routine, it’s not a struggle to get them to do their homework every night.

5. Morning and Evening Routines for Back to School

And speaking of routines, morning and evening routines have always been a huge help when we’re trying to keep our household organized! (You can even get my pretty morning/evening routine printable in this post.)

There is a lot to do to get everyone out the door on time in the mornings. So it’s really helpful when everyone knows what they’re responsible for.

Before the school year starts, we try to sit down as a family and establish things like…

  • when we will pick out clothes
  • who will pack lunches and when we will pack them
  • when we will have bookbags packed up
  • who will be in charge of breakfast on which days
  • who is driving the boys to school/walking them to the bus stop
  • Etc!
Love the ideas in this post for keeping kids organized for the school year! She talks about 5 systems of organization each family should have in place-- so smart! Click through to see them all!

Every family’s routines will probably look different, but setting expectations and getting on the same page right at the beginning of the year has always been a huge help for us.

You can read more about my morning routine in this post and my evening routine in this post.

Preparing for a Successful School Year

Now, there is no one “right way” to be successful in each of these five areas. Our family’s needs, timing, and phase of life is probably completely different from yours. So our days will look different too.

I’ve found, though, that if I take the time to think about and create an intentional system for these five areas, our school year goes a whole lot more smoothly.

We spend less time looking for lost items. We have necessary paperwork handed in on time. Everyone knows who is responsible for what. And we’re able to work together much better as a family to minimize chaos in our household. When we can be prepared and have a plan in place, to helps the year to go as smoothly as possible!

What systems help your family stay organized during the school year? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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5 Simple Systems that Will Get You Organized for Back to School

Thank you so much for following along! Have a wonderful day!

Love the ideas in this post for keeping kids organized for the school year! She talks about 5 systems of organization each family should have in place-- so smart! Click through to see them all!


  1. Kecia @ Online Income Mom says:

    I love your simple systems to keep things organized for back to school. I think we have the paperwork system down…important papers go in a box on my desk, and cute artwork gets put in a box in each boy’s closet. I keep more than the 20 per year though, so I need to work on dwindling that down! I also love the mini mudroom idea, with hooks low enough for the boys to hang their own bags and jackets.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Glad it was helpful for you, Kecia!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Having pre-set routines is so important to my day’s success! Without them I am floundering and unsure of what to do next! With them I find that I have more free time and my house is more peaceful!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      SO agree, Randi!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Kristine Puzel says:

    We don’t even have little ones (my (bonus) boys are 27 & 29!), but I am intrigued by your organization and structure. And I have always thought that little ones really need structure; I truly believe it gives them a sense of security and safety. You are no doubt are helping many families really think through how best to manage the segue into the new school year!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are TOO sweet! Thank you so much, Kristine! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  4. laura janning says:

    what is it in this day of technology that our kids have mounds of paper that they bring home! Hope your little guys have an amazing year. my twins are in 3rd and my oldest is in 5th and I remember when they were in pre-k like it was really just like last week. insert boo boo face.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Seriously!! SO MUCH PAPER! Thanks so much, Laura! Hope you and your kiddos have a great year as well!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Sarah @ The Teacher's Wife says:

    This is so good, Abby! Since my daughter is starting kindergarten this year, I need to get on the stick with some of these areas (paperwork especially!). Are you using the same folding technique for the kids’ clothes? My hubby and I love it for ours, but I haven’t done it yet for my kids. I was thinking about starting it once I switch out there summer clothes for fall.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Sarah! Yes, we still use that method for folding all the clothes in our house! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  6. Thanks for all the great organizing tips, Abby! My youngest started school this year, so all three of my kids are now bringing home mounds of paper. I just hung my “inbox” today because I couldn’t keep up with all of it (but now I will)!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Sara! I totally feel your pain… SO MUCH PAPER! 🙂 Here’s to a great school year with your kiddos!

      ~Abby =)

  7. These really are fantastic organizing methods! I love the nook idea for coats/bags/shoes. Now I find myself wishing I had a nook!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Jeannine! Happy organizing! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  8. As a former teacher and administrator I just have to say that the routines and structure you’ve set up are so important when it comes to school success. I’m sure your boy’s teachers absolutely love you!!!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Aww thank you so much, Shelley! It’s good so good to hear that from a pro! Hope you have a wonderful week!

  9. Where did you get the boards that you display their artwork on? Love them!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      They are from IKEA! Hope you’re having a great day!

  10. Julie @ The Mom Survival Guide says:

    Abby, I love all your simple ideas for creating good back to school systems. One of the super simple solutions I find useful in my own home is to keep a bin for each child in one of my lower kitchen cabinets. That way when I sort through the school papers they bring home each day I have a bin to place all of the “keepers” like fun artwork and creative short stories. At the end of the school year the “keepers” will go into a scrap book or keepsake box marked for that year.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Love that solution, Julie! School papers can be a tricky one for sure!

      Have an awesome week!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Klutter Killerz says:

    Your mudroom area looks great! I love that extra space for keeping jackets, backpacks, etc. Makes things go more smoothly in the morning when everyone is in a rush.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      It really does make such a difference! Thanks so much for stopping by. Have an awesome week!

      ~Abby =)

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