Back to School Tips – 3

Routines and a Place For Everything

“The key to a calm morning is a Before Bed Routine!” – FlyLady

  1. The bedtime routine starts it all, of course! Making lunches the night before, school bags packed, everything in the launch pad, and schedule checked! The morning consists of just getting dressed and eating breakfast–there will be time for a talk or a little t.v.! Mom getting up before everyone is essential!
  2. Near the end of the school year this past Spring, I had started a flybaby list for my kids. It has a morning routine, an after school routine and a before bed routine. Here they are….


    • 1. Are you Dressed with your shoes on?
    • 2. Where are your PJs? (in the laundry room or put away I hope!).
    • 3. Is your bed made?
    • 4. How do those hot spots look?
    • 5. Turn off your light on your way out!
    • 6. Don’t forget to brush your teeth (and wipe out the sink when you are done please!).
    • Have a GREAT DAY! And look forward to coming home to a clean bedroom!
    • YEAH!

    WELCOME HOME! How was School?

    • 1. Did Mom do laundry today? Get it put away! (IN YOUR DRAWERS!)
    • 2. Have you changed into play clothes? Where are your school clothes? (in laundry or put away)
    • 3. How do those hot spots look? (you did put your laundry AWAY didn’t you?)
    • 4. Check your list and do a 10 minute Room Rescue! Your toys will love you for it!
    • 5. Don’t forget your homework it’s VERY IMPORTANT!
    • 6. Turn off your light on your way out!
    • NOW, go enjoy your afternoon and just think, at bedtime you will have a clean room to sleep in!


    • 1. Don’t throw those clothes on the floor! put them away or in the laundry!
    • 2. Pick up your toys and tidy your room! check the closet floor too! Your toys will love you for it tomorrow!
    • 3. Double check those HOT SPOTS AGAIN! (where is your laundry?)
    • 4. What are you wearing tomorrow?
    • 5. Don’t forget to brush your teeth! OH.. and wipe out the sink when you are done!
    • 6. Double check that your alarm clock is set!
    • 7. Take some time to read a book before bed!
    • SWEET DREAMS! See you and your CLEAN room in the morning!

    Flying with 7 babies in IN

  3. I’m a SAHM (stay at home mom) of three girls (9, 6 and 4). I got the idea for their routines in your website last august. I made them each their own Control Journal. I used Word to create a table of squares. In each squares, I write down in simple words what they have to do and I put an icon to help the little ones who can’t really read. They have the Morning routine, the After School routine and the Evening routine. There might be some mistakes… sorry… my first language is french 🙂 Here’s an example of the routines of the two in school. I put between ( ) what icon I used:
  4. I get dress (little happy girl)
  5. I make my bed (a little bed)
  6. I eat breakfast (an orange)
  7. I pick up my dishes (a plate and a spoon)
  8. I comb my hair (an hair dresser)
  9. I check my lunch bag (a picnic basket)

    • I empty my school bag (back pack)
    • I empty my lunch bag (same picnic basket)
    • I have a snack (an apple)
    • I do my homework (little girl at a desk)
    • I help getting supper ready (other kind of plate and fork)
    • I clean up after supper (a woman with a mop and rag)
    • I finish my homework (same girl at a desk)


    • Choose lunch or snack for tomorrow (different veggies)
    • Check my calendar (calendar)
    • Check that everything is in my school bag (same back pack)
    • Put school bag beside the door (same back pack (very small) and a door)
    • Getting my clothes ready (clothes on a hanger)
    • Pick up hot spots in my room (a bookcase)
    • Take my bath (a bath)
    • Put my pj on (a little girl in a pj)
    • Pick up my dirty clothes (clothes in a basket)
    • Brush my teeth (a tooth)
    • Check my alarm (a clock)

    I’m very sorry if it’s so long. The girls love it. I put the sheets in the same protectors I use for my control journal and they also have the same pen I use to check my routines. I put their routines in a little binder (1/2 “) and added dividers so they also have a section for the phone numbers of all their friends (that way even I can find the number if I need it), they also have a section to put down every thing they would like to have as gifts. Last Christmas, I was able to give my parents and friends a list of what the girls wanted as gifts much more faster and the precedent years *hehehe* – Still a Flybaby from Quebec, Canada

  11. Getting kids to eat a good breakfast before school can be a challenge. Getting my dd to decide what she wanted and eat it before the bus came was a struggle every day. Every morning it was the same thing, “I don’t know what I want. What do we have?” It wasted so much time telling her every morning her choices for breakfast, which were usually the same every day. Last year I created a fun, colorful menu of breakfast items just for her. I drew the items in crayon and wrote the words (She was just learning to read.) The back of the menu was saved for any “Specials,” items that I don’t keep on hand for breakfast all the time, like cinnamon rolls or muffins. The menu was always located with the napkins in the napkin holder on the table. She would come downstairs, grab the menu, make her choice, and eat, all in plenty of time. It was fun for her to play “restaurant,” and she became more enthusiastic about eating breakfast, especially when she flipped over the menu and found a “Special.”She gave me the ideas for the menu, so I was sure to have foods available that appealed to her. I made pancakes on the weekend and froze individual portions that I could just pop in the microwave. Other foods included in her menu were cereal, toast, English muffin pizza, eggs, or banana bread (frozen in individual slices.) She also had a choice of juice and milk. The menu worked great for us. I hope it will work for other people, too, who struggle with kids and breakfast.
  12. I began this routine last school year and it worked great. I purchased a folder for each child, the kind with pockets and three “rings”. I labeled each folder with the child’s name “***** Home Folder”. I placed their class schedules, classroom information….. important papers from enrollment, information I would need throughout the school year, etc. in the rings of the folder. Weekly bulletins, spelling words for the week, notes and homework assignments are kept in the pockets. As soon as my children come home from school, I go through the papers in their backpacks and sort them and whatever notes I need to keep or special homework assignments, science fair project instructions, etc they go right in the folder. Once a note is taken care of it is thrown away. This has saved so much time, instead of searching under beds or stacks of papers on the kitchen counter, (stacks of papers are no longer allowed!), or cluttering our refrigerator with layers of paper, we simply get the folder out and see what needs to be done. This makes homework time much easier and less stressful. – A Mom Flying Higher Every Day!! PTL!
  13. Even at my MOST ‘chaotic’ – I used this idea! Mount a sturdy wooden ‘coat rack’ type board with pegs in the kitchen at about ‘chair rail’ level. When the kids come home from school they hang up their back packs there. This way they’re ready for homework and to refill (the night before) and grabbed on the way out the door. I found that this was a simple task for the kids, as they had to do the same at school and so they were already into the routine!
  14. Last year my second-grade DD’s homework came home by the week – all her assignments for the week on Monday, due back Friday in her “homework folder”. I developed a routine of sitting down with her each Monday afternoon and looking over her homework and breaking it down into manageable chunks,so she knew that each night she needed to do 2 worksheets to get things done on time. For my older DD, in fifth grade, having a regular “library day” each week was a big help with research for her various reports and projects.One thing I haven’t tried yet, but which was recommended by a friend, was to get an over-the-door pocket organizer. It has pockets of various sizes for big and little things like tape, pens, scissors, etc., including some large ones for letter-size papers. She hung it on the door leading into her garage, and labeled pockets for each kid AND adult, for “keys”, and for “papers to be signed and returned”. Now as each kid brings home papers for mom or dad they drop them off in the right pocket, and as Mom signs the papers she puts them in the kids’ pockets. Part of their out-the-door morning routine is to check their pocket and take their papers! Silicon Valley Flybaby
  15. We have a “lunch station” set up. I use an old baker’s rack. One shelf holds the lunch boxes and thermoses. Another holds chips, crackers and morning snack options. I have the zip lock baggies there and the juice boxes. My DDs, aged 5,6 & 10 make their own lunches the night before, then put the lunch boxes in our extra fridge over night to keep things cold. In the morning we jus grab a lunch box and go!! – Flying and loving it in VA
  16. I purchase a large clear storage box and when all my local stores begin there “Back to School” Sales I buy in quantity( Our school hands out with report cards a supply list for the following fall new grade, this is a blessing)! All the supplies go into this box and I store the box in a closet. When we are getting ready for the first day of school my children get to go into the box and pick out all of their new supplies and then throughout the school year when they need to replenish their supplies we go right to the box! This is a great time saver and a great savings! You know the kids always need something for tomorrow and they tell you at 9pm the night before! 🙂 I also keep a package of poster board behind my dining room china cabinet, I stand up the poster board so it doesn’t get wrecked and no one can see it hiding behind there! Again when a project is due we have the supplies. – Flying from Northern Va
  17. My younger DS has ADD and we have been doing school routines for a couple years now.(Of course it took you guys to help me see that I needed routines, too!) Anyway, the biggest thing for us is doing the same thing every school day, so my son knows what to expect and we don’t forget anything.He bathes in the morning while having breakfast in the tub (plastic dishes), which sounds strange, but works well for us since it gives him time to adjust slowly to the idea of being up. Then it’s tooth brushing, dressing (thank goodness for uniforms–not much thought required!), and lunch making before we’re out the door. Whole thing takes about an hour, but since he’s 10 I just need to “prod” him occasionally while I get my morning routine done.When we get home from school he has a snack while I gather up the mail and other little tasks I can do at the dining room table. Then he starts on homework and I do my stuff while sitting with him to keep him on track. When he finishes the day’s homework, he does his 20 minutes of reading while I have a break.All his school supplies and homework in progress (like book reports) are kept in a table by the door to the garage. That’s where we keep his backpack and lunch box, too, so that we don’t leave without them in the morning. Once homework is done it goes directly into the backpack.

    His school starts using planners in the 3rd grade and that has been wonderful for us. Every assignment for the day is written down and checked off as it gets completed. Unfinished/homework assignments get circled, so that the kids know exactly what books they need to bring home and what still needs to be done. I’ve even started using a planner for my older DS (high school age) who I’m homeschooling. That’s still sort of new for us, and changes from semester to semester, so I’m looking forward to seeing the routines of the more experienced homeschooling moms. – A So. Calif. Flybaby

  18. I teach and these are my favorite suggestions for parents: make sure your child gets enough rest K-2 need about 10 hours each night. Try adjusting to the school year wake up time several weeks before school starts-it allows the body clock to adjust too.Plan healthy food: the brain doesn’t run on twinkies and kool-aid. The kids and parents enjoy the convenience of packaged foods, but watch the ingredients so many are very high in fats, sugar, and sodium.Have a place to put those important notices from school. If you have several children try a 3 ring binder with a section for each child.Prepare a “launching pad” by the door. This is a place for the lunch box, back pack, projects-everything that needs to go to school. Train the kids to put it there.
  19. I think that the most valuable routines are the same ones we adults depend on– laying clothes out the night before, picking up before going to bed. Establishing before bed routines makes getting ready for school soooo much easier in the morning. I have incorporated into my routine/checklist what I call “kid check” – check to make sure homework has been done, backpacks are ready for tomorrow, showers/baths are taken, etc. I have also made and printed out copies of each child’s morning and before bed routines (which they helped make up) for them to have as a checklist. For the two older girls, their alarm clock works as their timer – it is set for 30 minutes after I wake them up. They have until the alarm goes off to be completely ready and downstairs for breakfast.Another “routine” that I find so helpful is a “kid” section in my control journal. With 3 children ages 5 – 11, I have my share of notes, permission slips, field trip information sheets, etc. to keep track of. When I get a field trip notice, I immediately note it on my calendar, sign the permission slip and put either the information sheet or a copy in my kid section. That way, when I see in my calendar that a field trip is coming up, I can check to see what clothing the child will need, whether or not she/he needs a special lunch or drink, etc. This has saved my “franny” many times and kept me from having to try an run by the convenience store on the way to school for that required “plastic screw top drink”! In this section I also keep a list of each child’s teacher’s name, email, and conference times in case I need to get in touch with them (I include piano teachers, twirling teachers and little league coaches in this list).
  20. I’m a new flybaby (my wings are still wet) and I have a long way to go, but I do have a few school tips. I have 4 school age kids (11, 10, 10, & 9) and a 3 year old. Tip 1: make lunches the night before!! 10 minutes at night seems to somehow save a 1/2 hour in the morning. Tip 2: I have a tray on my desk with each child’s name on it. After school they take all the papers out of their backpacks and put them in their tray. I then go through them. File away special papers, sign permission slips, mark events on the calendar, and discard the rest. I put the signed things back in the tray and the kids grab them in the morning on their way out. We always know where everything is. Flybaby in Michigan
  21. In order to reduce our clutter of all the “projects” our boys have had to make both in school and for school we do the following: when it comes home from school, it has a place of honor in the house for a set period of time then we take a photograph of the child with the project and save this instead of the entire project. For really complex projects we sometimes take a photo from several different angles. The photos then go into a scrapbook which they can look at and refer to when telling a visiting friend or relative about the project. Flying in ME!
  22. FlyCrew, I am the parent of 4 (ages 18 – 8) and a middle school teacher. I like to start the year off organized with school papers etc with the hopes of keeping it up all year. Here’s what I do:I have a stack tray for each child in the kitchen. They are to come home from school and put anything that I need to see in their tray. Also, homework and assignment books needing to be signed go in their bin when homework is done. I then go through each child’s stack at the end of the day. Papers needing to be returned to school are signed and put back in the correct tray. They pull what’s there out and put it in their back backs in the morning. Papers we want to keep (such as a list of spelling words, acceptable book report books or class expectations) are 3-hole punched and put in the binder each child has next to the stack of trays. The binders each have different dividers, ex. for my youngest son we have school, sports and papers to keep. My other kids helped decide what their categories should be. This system has worked well for us – no more frantic searches for the spelling list that was on the table yesterday!I am new to flying, but some of what I have already been doing applies. It was worth the training time to get our school papers under control!
  23. I’m a Kindergarten teacher and a mother of two college students. It is important to keep routine in everything, including your child(ren)’s school/homework schedule. When your child(ren) returns home from school allow them 30 minutes to have a snack and unwind (avoid video games and/or computer). They have been sitting behind a desk for the last 6 hours, the last thing they want to do is sit at a desk! Once the 30 minutes is up (use your timer), it is time to “crack the books”. Depending on your child, use 30 minute increments (like our 15 min). I say 30 because that is approximately how long it will take the average child to complete one assignment. Some may take longer, some may take less. It is important to complete one whole assignment before taking a break. Allow a 15 minute break to regain sanity (use the timer). Then back to the books. Continue the routine until all work is complete. Before bed, look over your child’s work. Show that you are interested,even if you don’t understand. You may actually learn something in the process. Encourage your child to seek help from a friend if he or she is having trouble. Don’t allow them to become dependent on you. Make sure that they have a quiet area in which to work (maybe some SOFT music) , with all of the needed supplies at hand. Much time will be wasted if they are searching for paper, pencil, ruler, calculator, etc. When all the work is complete and you have looked it over, put it in the back pack near the door.In my classroom, I have specific routines everyday. I feel that routines are important for everyone at every age. My students know what we are doing and when. If there is going to be a change in the routine, I let them know right up front. Assignments for the day are on the board before class even begins. The students are required to keep assignment books beginning in the first grade. The books are to be filled out at the beginning of the day. It is to show what was done in class, what is due for homework, upcoming tests and projects that will be due in the near future, along with any field trips or special events coming. Since my students are non readers and writers, I try to send home a weekly news note (one page, quickly printed). It tells the parents what we did during the week, what we will be doing the next week, and any special events that will be coming in the next few weeks or so.I hope you will find these ideas useful. I know that they work well for me. In fact, my children both graduated among the top of their class.
  24. I keep a basket in my son’s room for all of his papers, drawings, etc. to go into all year long. It is easy to unload the backpack, or weekly envelope that comes home. He does it, or I do. (It is also a good way to find the notices he forgets to give me.) Sometimes I look at the work when I go in at bedtime to read to him, and I can share the math paper, maybe notice what he needs to study, etc. At the end of the year, I go through it first, saving only the original work/stories/art, maybe a few great tests, and any info pages that might be helpful to him in the future. Then I show him those, and we keep only the best. It is also a good way for him to see how much work he did all year long. Pretty impressive!
  25. Our homework routine seemed to work pretty well this past year. Before school began, when I gathered school supplies, I got a plastic shoebox-size container which became known as the “homework box.” I put in pencils, erasers, crayons, glue sticks, and a few other things my kids (a 1st-grader and a 3rd-grader) would need regularly for their homework. I stored the “homework box”in the kitchen because my kids did their homework at the kitchen table.I made it clear to my kids that they would have to do their homework before going out to play. They would come in from the bus, have a snack, get out the homework box and get to work. (I would only make an exception to this rule if there was an especially mild day in the winter. I’d let them play outside right away then because if they did homework first it would be dark outside by the time they got done.)To remind them to put their things away before running outside, I made up a song. The tune is some mixture of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “The Hokey-Pokey,” and the words are: “Put your homework in your folder, Put your folder in your backpack, Put your backpack in the backpack place…” The “backpack place” is alongside the staircase near our “launch pad.” The kids thought the song was dopey, LOL, but we didn’t scramble for missing homework or misplaced backpacks in the morning! -Sprouting Wings in NJ
  26. I have only been a flybaby for a few months. I started a job out of my home about 3 yrs ago and it turned my organizing skills upside down! Can’t even tell you how frustrating this has been! I was very organized before, but taking 30 hrs out of my week has challenged everything I knew about organization! HOWEVER, there has been one ting that I discovered early into this new “adventure” I still make all my kids lunches. Now everyone may think that I am crazy, I’m not debating that point…but…even my high-schoolers enjoy it! My one 17 yr old said that the first few weeks of school, he got teased very badly, but he took it in stride and by about the third week, everyone was saying, “So, what did your mommy pack today?” Then it became, “Gee, I wish my mom would make my lunch.” It is still one thing that I can do for them, that says, I love you. It seems to be the one consistently organized thing that I have done the past 3 years. But I’m learning. Thanks so much! I love this web site!!! It’s like having my own organizing angel sitting on my shoulder! – Tons of hugs for bringing me back from the brink! Flybaby in Washington
  27. Teach your children BABY STEPS (known in the corporate world as TIME MANAGEMENT)The teacher assigns a book report 2 weeks from today/tonight. Sit down with your precious oneand figure out how many pages per day need to be read. Figure out that reading might not get done the night of the soccer game – do we double up another night?? Do we need a night for rough draft?? Do we have time to type it or can Mom/Dad help me?? Any other commitments besides soccer?? band?? friends with birthdays??Two weeks can become only one week without a plan so help your precious one get one!! This tip has kept my sanity and allowed me to love my children.
  28. I have three DD that are 15 mo. and 14 mo. apart! Needless to say, for a SHE it worked out okay, until we had time frames placed on us by the public (i.e. school). Of course, I have had to learn the hard way…last minute flinging lunches, last minute looking for signed papers & homework, and last but not least, that last minute search for the car keys!!!! Mornings were stressful to say the least! Worse, what was I teaching my babies?Something had to be done to simplify our mornings. After seeing how hectic our mornings were, my DH gave me a wall mirror with 5 hooks for a Christmas gift. Something sooooo simple as that being hung at our back entrance has made a TREMENDOUS difference in our morning departures!The girls know they each have their own “hook”, and they know to hang their book bags on “their” hook as they enter our home after school. After checking book bags for notes & doing homework, it is all packed and placed back on “their hook” for the next school day….NO MORE LAST MINUTE SEARCHES!!!!!! (Yippy).Best of all, Mom has her “own hook” too; so, I always know right where my purse AND my car keys are, as we head out the door! (LOL…I know you other SHE’s can relate to the many car key scavenger hunts!)

    While this seems so simple, I cannot tell you just how much peace it has brought into our home. – Happy FLYing! Alabama FLYbaby

  29. I have three precious girls and one handsome husband. I commute 45 minutes to get to work and my husband commutes to school with me which means we must be on the road by 6:30. To make sure things run smoothly we do several time-saving steps the night before. My husband or I (depending on who’s turn it is) pack the lunches or in plastic pencil seelable bags (these bags have the girls names on it) put in the lunch money. We also set out cereal bowls, cups, and spoons on the kitchen table. We bathe the girls and make sure they have their clothes picked out for the next day. The clothes are placed on their dresser. They are told that they are not allowed to change their minds unless the weather changes it for them. Also, as soon as the girls come home from school, they do their homework while dinner is cooking. After the homework is checked by us, they put their backpacks and notes on the launch pad area. I also typed up a check list placed it in a sheet protector and placed it on the exit door. It lists: books, backpack, library books, homework, P.E. clothes, permission slips, lunch and most important our smiles. I hope this helps, I know it works for us. Family Flying In N. B. Texas
  30. Most teachers I know have clutter all over their classrooms. One of my best tips for reducing the clutter in the classroom and at home, is to only handle papers once.If it is trash, throw it away. Do not lay it on your table or desk.If it is a paper about a meeting or other event, put the event on the calendar right away. Then, discard the paper. If the paper is necessary for the meeting, file it in a designated place.At home, keep a file for kids’ school papers too. Empty their book bags EVERY night. Don’t let those papers build up. Not only will this keep the book bag clean and keep you well notified, it will allow you to be more aware or homework too.

    File papers you need for later dates.

    Fill out forms that need your signature and put them back in a folder you designate for your child to keep in their book bag to bring the papers back and forth in. By designating a folder, your child will always know where the papers are whether it’s the teacher of the parent asking for them and they will be nice and neat.

    If you must save some of your children’s more precious papers and projects, and I don’t know a parent who doesn’t, buy a medium to large size plastic tub with a lid and a local discount store. Have one tub per kid. This will allow you to keep each child’s stuff separate while saving those precious memories from the elements. Keep the tubs stacked in a space in the basement or other storage area. Do not collect the papers in a pile upstairs. Have the kids help you with placing the ones you are keeping in the tubs if you don’t want to have to take the stairs.

    Refrigerator papers go there immediately. Rotate these as new ones come home. As papers are removed, decide whether or not you really need to keep them. If they were great papers, but not worth keeping forever, place them in the trash when the new ones are put up. If they must be kept, put them in the appropriate tub immediately.

    All other papers that aren’t tub, file, refrigerator, or book bag worthy go in the trash.

    Don’t allow papers to collect. I speak from experience, both as a teacher and a parent. Once you get used to the system your house and/or classroom will look better than it ever has during the school year! – Ohio

  31. I’m a true flybaby, payroll SHE and certainly a sidetracked perfectionist, so I don’t have a great deal of consistent, workable tips for moms and kids on the go, but I do have one GREAT and simple one. Unfortunately, it is limited in that it works for Moms like me who have just two children, close together in age. I started this when my DD and DS were just 4 and 2 years old, respectively. But even now, at ages 17 and 15 it still works! You may have heard of this tip. I can’t take credit because I read it in some parenting book and of course can’t remember which one. Here it is–extremely simple, but extremely effective: You assign even-numbered dates, like July 22, to one child; and odd-numbered dates, like July 23 to the other child. They know it as “My Day.” For example, when it is an even-numbered day, it is my daughter’s “day.” That means that she is the one who gets to sit in the front seat, or push the buttons on the elevator, or choose the first piece of cake, etc. etc. etc. On the odd-numbered day, it is my son’s “day.” Once they figure it out, you never have to be a referee or get in the middle of an argument again–they solve it themselves. Whose turn is it to … whatever? The “my day” child gets to choose. It helps them to learn their dates and keep an eye on the calendar too.You should hear my teenagers; even now they automatically take their seat in the front or back of the car depending on “whose day” it is … LOL!Hope this helps someone; it sure helped me! signed … A new and grateful flybaby in Chicago Helping women around the world get their home organized. Copyright 2001 - 2020 FlyLady and Company, Inc.