2015 Back to School Organising and Tip Series

2015 back to school tips and ideas series

During the month of January I slowly prep the kids and home in preparation for back to school.  I will be sharing a month long series of posts filled with loads of tips and ideas so you are ready for Day 1 of school, including freezable lunchbox ideas, storage solutions, printable charts to help you create routines and so much more.

I want this series to help you.  Use these tips to adapt them to suit your home and kids!

This year all my kiddies are starting at a new school, which is really exciting, the twinnies in high school and youngest starting Year 5, so we are purchasing full sets of new uniforms, book packs and more, labelling 101 items!

NEW – Coffee Chat

Over the years I have always enjoyed coffee conversations with other mums, learning their family routines.  Each day through the series I would like to ask the community a question on facebook and/or instagram, just like a coffee chat that may help you to create routines or organise areas in your home.  And on the flip side, your answers to the chat questions may really help a mum or dad that are struggling in the home or creating routines.  Chat questions could be:

  • what time do your kids go to bed on a school night
  • do you make your kids do chores before school
  • do your kids watch tv on school days

Please leave a comment for both these below:

  1. A ‘coffee chat’ question to ask the community.
  2. What areas of Back to School you would like to read about in the series, this will help me create content that will help you.

coffee chat with The Organised Housewife


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Rebecca January 5, 2015 - 6:33 AM

I’d like to hear about other Mum’s lunch ideas for fussy eaters.

How often to other Mum’s bake and freeze lunch box snacks ie once a week, once a month etc?


Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 9:30 AM

Hi Rebecca, I like to do all my baking on the weekend and freeze it all, ready for the week ahead.

Felicity January 5, 2015 - 6:48 AM

Hi, I’ll be a new mum to school this year as my oldest is starting prep. I would love to hear any tips for the first year of school.

Kiki January 5, 2015 - 12:13 PM

Be prepared for them to be super tired at the end of the day, especially the end of the week. I had portions of premade dinners frozen as well as simple easy dinners like precooked sausages. This way if all she could manage would to eat some food, have a quick shower and fall into bed, she wasn’t waiting around for dinner to cook. I’d also keep some of our dinner from the night before in the fridge so it wasn’t always reheated frozen dinners. Being prepared for their exhaustion is the biggest thing I think.

I’d also let my girls have breakfast in the car if they had trouble getting up in the morning. I found breakfast to be the thing that took the longest to get done and leaving it until last worked for us. My girls are happy to have toast or dried cereal on our way to school.

Jess January 5, 2015 - 12:37 PM

Few tips
1. Velcro shoes
2. Label everything
3. Make sure they can recognise first and last name
4. Have lunchtime practice, you’ll know how much they can eat in the time allowed and whether they can open everything you pack
5. Always send a spare uniform
6. Take a fun day to pick bags, go shoe shopping, lunchboxes etc. to get them excited.

Liliam Sheridan January 5, 2015 - 7:00 AM

Do yoy recommend any type/brand/style of lunch boxes? Easy to clean, easy to storage, dishwasher safe etc? Is it better with divisions?

Katrina January 5, 2015 - 8:13 AM

Definitely Tupperware. The lifetime guarantee means never having to replace broken lunch boxes. Let’s face it kids school bags get trampled on, thrown in the car and on the ground. It’s bound to happen. I prefer to use individual containers now they are at school rather than the one segmented box. The reason for this is at our school the kids have 3 eating sessions. They start with brain food whilst working, then lunch and then snack. With the rules on allergies etc there are eating zones at scho and if they don’t finish during the scheduled time they go outside and containers go in a tub outside the classroom. If that container has food left in it, it is not suitable to eat later. (Sitting out in the heat).

Sandra January 5, 2015 - 4:42 PM

My boys use fridgetogo lunch bags. They keep really cold for 8 hours so packing early in the morning is fine and there no question how lunch will taste hours later.. Different sizes available for little and big kids.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 9:28 AM

Hi Liliam, Perfect timing! If you come back to the blog tomorrow you can read all about choosing the perfect lunchbox!.:)

Katrina January 5, 2015 - 7:02 AM

I would like to see what schedules/routines people do for their kids to manage homework, sports and chores! What chores do you think are suitable for primary aged kids and should they receive pocket money and how much?

Susie January 5, 2015 - 9:36 AM

Really good questions, Katrina – I am really interested in this too. Also Casey’s ‘desk organisation’. Thanks!

Lisa Ryder January 5, 2015 - 2:25 PM

My three kids (ages 9, 7.5 & 6) do swimming plus one sport each. As I will be working 4 days per week and hubby is a shift worker, it pays to be organised – especially meals and homework!

The days there is little on after school, the kids spend a bit longer on homework/reading to allow for a lapse on another occasion. For example at swimming I have them do their reading with me whilst a sibling is in the pool. If we are lucky to have Dad home, then those not at training stay home. We were fortunate last year that both hockey and soccer training was on the same day!

As the kids contribute to the mess, I expect them to contribute to the clean up. They are a part of the family and as Team Ryder, we work as a team to get more fun time together. They might earn extra “Tech Time”, but it’s not without limitations. They don’t receive pocket money for these: beds made, clothes away, sweeping/vacuuming/mopping floors, dishwasher stacked/unpacked, tidy room, feed beasties, rubbish runs etc. These don’t have to be perfectly done, but they have to try earnestly.

During the holidays and weekends I have them help in additional ways: wiping windowsills/skirting boards, filing bills, washing clothes, baking for school or dinner. I found a great breakdown of chores on this site 🙂

They receive pocket money for the additional tasks as it’s going above and beyond expectations. This is banked into their school banking account.

Please understand this is a work in progress – my 6yo girl is doing her best to buck the system! I would love to hear others’ successes with a reluctant participant 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 8:59 AM

WOW Lisa i love your system! And good on you for making it work so well.:) Sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job! ~ Kate

pris January 11, 2015 - 1:11 PM

I love the motto team Ryder! Great ideas. I am about to embark in this system and as you say it is a work in progress. Cheers Pris

Casey January 5, 2015 - 7:03 AM

I would love info on organising desks my eldest is going
into high school and my youngest into grade 3. Eldest desk
Has 2 slim drawers at top and youngest has 3 (not quite a4
Size drawers in a row).
Any organisation tips would be great also what you have in
Or on their desks
Thanks Casey

Alicia January 5, 2015 - 7:05 AM

Hi, I would like help with some printables (perhaps visual or simple ones for seven year olds) for chores and jobs before and after school. I have read many of your tips before and love them thanks!

Elita January 5, 2015 - 7:39 AM

morning routine for little ones my boy is in prep so what routine do mums Hav in place

Tracy January 5, 2015 - 12:54 PM

I had a little routine chart on my notice board. My youngest was still using it in Year 3, and it’s still there, though no one looks at it all these years later.

Our morning routine consisted of:

Get up and dressed
Make your bed
Have breakfast
Brush hair and teeth
Pack your bag

I tried to make sure the routine made sense in terms of both the order and combining tasks that were un the same room (eg bedroom, bathroom). I typed this up and put a picture in for each task, just using Microsoft Clipart.

I did (and still do) make my kids’ lunches, (even at 14, 17 and 18) because I do it before they get up while the house is peaceful. I just can’t stand the nonsense and squabbling with three of them trying to use the kitchen. I make their sandwiches and pop them in tupperware sandwich boxes. They have to get fruit and snack for themselves.

Some thirteen years after this routine was instigated by me it still works perfectly, because it covers everything that must be done before we leave the house.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 9:05 AM

Fantastic Tracy! I love that your routine is still working for you. Good on you.:) ~ Kate

Amber January 5, 2015 - 8:03 AM

I’m really interested in the lunches. My first I starting school this year and the whole lunchbox thing completely daunts me as previously he was a fussy eater – still is but at least now he eats a bit more and my youngest is changing to a new preschool where I need to bring meals – old kindy provided meals so I’m was a little spoilt. I’m used to making things fresh so the whole food storage thing scares me eg cruskits going soft/sogy eg if not consumed straight away etc.

Jillian January 5, 2015 - 8:14 AM

I would like to learn what and how to freeze healthy lunch options for my fussy eaters

Julie January 5, 2015 - 8:38 AM

Another who would love freezable lunches for fussy kids.
Tips on getting more veggies into the lunch box.
How to organise after school routines.
Screen time in general but particularly during the week. If you’ve cut back on screen time how did you go about it?

Meg January 5, 2015 - 8:58 AM

I would love some tips on kids transitioning to high school. My little one going into prep is fine but my older one going to high school is extremely nervous-lots of changes that are overwhelming. Being on the autism spectrum she doesn’t cope with change very well & is also a very fussy eater.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 9:14 AM

Hi Meg, Really good idea. I totally understand. Lots of talking helps.:)

Hayley January 5, 2015 - 9:01 AM

I would love to know how to cut back on screen time. Another is I have difficulty with ideas for afternoon snacks. We fell into a routine of milk and cookies last year. Need a healthy change.

Sandra January 5, 2015 - 4:54 PM

Screen time was a big issue in our house last year. Started a system that works well. (2 boys 7 & 10). They have to earn time for doing regular jobs and can also earn for extra jobs. I use pirate coins, each coin is worth 5 minutes and they keep them in a jar. When they have enough for what they want they pay me in coins. They soon learnt that 5 mins of screen time isn’t much and were much keener to earn more and save up coins. A win/win. More interested in helping out and no asking can I watch this, play this etc.

Kelly January 12, 2015 - 8:45 PM

What a great idea, we will defiantly be trying this out with out 5yo this year

Wendy January 5, 2015 - 9:44 AM

Reflections on my experience with my now year 4 son’s school life.
1. Don’t overfill the lunch box
2. Include one item you know the child will eat..as most days half the food comes home no matter how long you have spent researching and preparing. Play is far more enticing than any balanced, researched super food we Mums have spent our time on.
3. Buy the cook book by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife on how to hide veggies for those fussy kids we all love .lol
4. Make sure the lunch box is easy for the child to operate
5. Start the years rules and organising lists now and carry on through out the year.
6. Give your child ALOT of input into how their work space desk is arranged … more so for older kids. Experience learning through doing. We all do too much for our little people.
7. Point 6 applies to all facets of kids daily life…the more we do for them the more we are disenabling them. Thinking of a friend who was still putting her year 2 son’s socks and shoes on for him !
8. Keep it simple and enjoy every day of your kids school life .. As we all know it goes by wsy too fast.

Jess January 5, 2015 - 11:17 AM

Three things I would suggest as a teacher: 1. Velcro shoes for littlest 2. Label everything (even undies if swimming) you would be surprised how many kids don’t know their own undies. 3. Practice opening all lunch containers, wraps before school. It is okay to open one for your child, but try 20-30 in the 10 minute eating time.
As a mum I colour code all subjects for my grade two daughter who is responsible for belongings in class ( no time wasted finding books etc.)
For my soon to be Prep boy I have just really focussed on him recognising his full name on each of his belongings and letting him pick and new bag and lunch box so he can pick his from the crowd. He is also a bit nervous ( young preppie) so we are having a back to school day where we will make bag tags, decorate/cover books, practice putting our uniform on and have a picnic with our school lunch .boxes

Lisa January 5, 2015 - 11:32 AM

I would like to know how other parents handle homework. My eldest started school last year & getting him to do homework was a nightmare. I tried spreding it over the whole week, doing it all in 1 day, no play until it was finished, a reward system but no matter what we always ended up arguing. My youngest starts this year & the thought of 2 lots of homework terrifies me.

Kiki January 5, 2015 - 12:04 PM

My eldest is going into Year 6 this year. I stopped arguing with her about homework when she was in Kindy. It was so stressful and counter productive as she didn’t learn anything and it was a total waste of everyone’s time. She knows that it is her responsibility to do her homework, that I will not write any notes to the teacher excusing her for not having done her homework. She would have to take on whatever consequences the teacher deemed fit if she didn’t do it.

Now she is a bit older she does the homework she can independently and then after dinner when the youngest is in bed and things are quieter we work on the parts she needs help with.

Part of the problem is that she had undiagnosed dyslexia as well as processing issues with her eyes not working together to read which made it hard for her to concentrate. If you continue to have issues with homework and if he avoids reading, it might be worth looking into things other than homework being the issue. I wish it had been found earlier in her schooling, would have saved all the catching up we’ve been doing this last twelve months and ongoing.

Kirsty Godschalx January 6, 2015 - 6:39 AM

Definitely agree. Don’t fight about it, it is not worth it to make home life stressful. Reading is the most important thing, and if they don’t like to read to you then you read to them.

Maggie January 11, 2015 - 8:22 AM

I used to have a terrible time trying to get my youngest to do his homework when in Yr 2, it would take an hour sometimes of nagging to get him to do what only took 5mins, sigh! Then at the end of the year I found out that he was the only child in his class that had completed all the tasks set, in fact the nearest child had only done half. Yes, it was good that he’d achieved everything but at what cost? I was so cross with myself that I’d gone through all those arguments with him thinking that the homework had to be done when in reality he was the only one doing it all! I now lay off big time, I recognize that some days he is just way too tired after a day full of learning to do any more work and by pushing him to do it I’m creating a monster (me!). I share this in the hope that others can learn form my mistakes!!

Robin January 11, 2015 - 10:59 AM

As a teacher I have to say that the only homework that is truly essential in the early years is reading, and if your child doesn’t want to read to you DON’T fight with them over it. Read to them instead. But please, read real books, not only the little reading books the kids bring home from school. Have a stash of either your own picture books or those you borrow from a public library and aim for 20 minutes a day, either while resting after school, or at bedtime, or even to settle in the mornings before school. Be willing to re-read your child’s favourite books many, many times and sit where you can both see the pictures and the text. Run your finger under the text while you read. Take time to explore the illustrations together. Many literacy skills are developed by watching and listening.
Three other points.
Make sure your child can manage their own clothes to use the toilet (overalls can create real problems).
Make sure your child can manage to get their own shoes on and off without help.
Make sure your child can manage to open and close their own lunchbox, that they know which food is their snack, and their lunch. Practise eating your lunch at home from the lunchbox several times before school starts.

Nadine January 12, 2015 - 6:03 AM

Hi Lisa,
My eldest started prep last year and brought homework home in 4th term. My attitude to homework (and this comes from my experience as a lower primary teacher pre kids) is that homework in prep should not be necessary – it is a school based decision. If your preppy is tired and has used up all their ‘goodness’ at school I would read them the book and maybe turn about a page. It should take no more than 10mins. Year 1 and 2 homework should be no more than 15mins. I always set reading, spelling and sight words and the kids had optional number facts which the majority wanted.
Our homework routine this year will be arvo tea, homework and then play. If he is too tired we will do the book as part of bedtime story.
Basically it is important to remember that homework is practice – books should be easy. And if things are a real struggle talk to the teacher too – they may say to focus on something on one particular thing.

Diane January 5, 2015 - 5:28 PM

Ideas for post school activities. Mine is so tired after nursery she vegitatea in front of the TV but I want to try to get her doing things but have no idea what or whether being so tired is normal ??

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 6, 2015 - 8:55 AM

Hi Diane, Yes i remember when mine were younger and all they wanted to do after Kindy and even the first few years of school was to come home and sit in front of the TV. I think they are so physically tired from playing and being active all day that they just want to sit and do nothing. ~ Kate

Goldie January 5, 2015 - 6:28 PM

It seems that everyone one is using printed charts – I think I have to take the plunge and buy a family printer. Any recommendations people?

Tracey January 12, 2015 - 2:44 PM

One that the refilled cartridges don’t cost a fortune, def check out the cost of the refills before buying, some refills are worth more than a new printer.

Kim January 5, 2015 - 6:39 PM

I would love some ideas on homework routines and healthy lunches that can be prepared in advance (that can be frozen).

Lindsey January 5, 2015 - 7:06 PM

Would love some ideas for afternoon tea, especially things that the kids can get for themselves and ways of organising the snacks. My youngest is 8mths so often needs a nap straight after school pick up which makes it hard getting the other 3 some afternoon tea before getting the little one down for a nap.

Aims January 5, 2015 - 7:25 PM

I love your routines/ lunches/ chores etc, last year they really helped me to get my head around starting school. However, this year is our first year of School, kindy and a toddler at home… tips on managing the paper flow, the bag station, all the STUFF (making, paintings etc) that come home from both kindy and school, all the drop offs, pick ups and food, food food! 🙂

Jackie January 5, 2015 - 7:51 PM

I’d like ideas for organising school papers.

Also, what ideas can I get for making lunches without contributing to landfill waste? My DD likes wakame (Seaweed salad), yoghurt, but is not so keen on sandwiches now. Ideas would be awesome!

Jo January 5, 2015 - 8:41 PM

Ideas for nutritious quick breaky as my son will start kindy this year and will travel on the bus 45mins so have an early start.

nicole true January 5, 2015 - 9:24 PM

Would like to see some tips on how to reduce screen time

When do your children complete their homework? Is it before or after school?

Heidi January 11, 2015 - 8:21 AM

My son is 7 and we during term we have a no TV in the mornings rule unless he is ready for school – dressed, brekkie done, teeth done, bag packed and ready. We do homework the minute we walk in the door after school and have a small snack so it’s over and done with quickly. It seems to work quite well :).

Fiona January 6, 2015 - 6:10 AM

My daughter is 13 and I’d love some advice and tips for high school aged kids.

tam January 6, 2015 - 9:24 AM

My kids are 18 17 14 and 12 and have been hanging clothes on the line for years
Plus i dont fold there clothes either plus at 16 they start washing their own
they take it in turn to empty the dishwasher,they have pets and also do the garbage and recycling
my 18yr has moved out and my 27 tr does nothing
for school my boys are in yr 7 and 9 the make their own lunch and i do up zip lock bags with treat in them and they grab one and s pc of fruit

Penny January 7, 2015 - 2:49 PM

Get them to practice using their lunchbox and snackboxes at home before the first day of school so that you can see any problems and find solutions. Your child will be more confident and the teacher will love you 🙂

Penny January 7, 2015 - 3:00 PM

My kids ages are 10, 8 and 5. After school routine is always the same, empty bags, snack then homework for older two while I listen to youngest reading. Youngest then hand washes lunchboxes while I listen to middles reading. Younger two then have free time until 5pm when we do baths and evening chores. Eldest is academically capable but often struggles with focus and attention to homework and I’ve found it’s usually best to walk away after 4pm. Evening chores include cleaning rooms, packing away dishes, setting table, feeding animals, taking out rubbish, and putting away clean clothes. Each child has a set list which rarely changes and takes between 5-10 minutes if they don’t fool around. We don’t have sport or activities yet as all three have various special needs and have needed various therapy with homework.

Marie January 12, 2015 - 6:05 AM

I would like to get organised and start freezing things for the kids. What’s containers would you recommend for the freezer

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 13, 2015 - 9:33 AM

Marie i use Vac Seal from Howards Storage World for the fresh fruit and in the freezer i use Tupperware and Snapware. Anything airtight is perfect.

Jill March 12, 2015 - 1:52 AM

I would love to have some nice ideas for keeping my kids routine productive and keep them busy and interested!


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