Back to school home hacks

Back to school home hacks

As much as I try to deny it, summer break is over, my kids started school earlier this week. I have enjoyed these months of summer with my kids, but it is time to get our home organized and ready for school. Today I am sharing my back to school home hacks!

Back to school home hacks, Our house now a home,

If you have been in the parenting of school aged kids game a while most likely you do a lot of these already. We all do what we need to do to survive the school year. This post can be used as a refresher for you, dust off the cobwebs that is a home that needs to function for the craziness of a school year. My kids are going into 5th grade, 3rd grade and 2nd grade, it pains me to say this because it means my kids are in fact getting older but I am an old pro when it comes to school aged kids.

This post is really for those precious newbies, the parents crying at drop off (not high-fiving other fellow Moms and blasting music with curse words in the minivan while going to get coffee, alone!). I feel you, I was there too feeling like it was somehow wrong to let my daughter go off to school without me. Maybe it is preschool or kindergarten, but you are officially a parent of an elementary aged kids. You have the back pack, labeled lunch box, gym shoes for school, but what if I told you there is a lot you need at home to make it through the year?

Let me let you in on a little secret, kids in school will bring home a pile of stuff, every-single-day. Papers, homework, art work, weird crafts they made, odd looking ceramic figures from art class, notes to be signed, homework notebooks, reading logs, sight words, spelling tests, class schedules…. and that is just what the school sends home. My youngest, Gavin is also known for bringing home rocks, tiny pieces of paper he cut up, notes from friends, broken pencils he found, an extra sock (not his) just in case we needed it.

When my daughter Nora started school we had one hook in the dining room for her tiny back pack and coat. I was so proud, it was adorable and very short lived. I realized real quick I needed more, more hooks, hangers, and places for papers. Once Caleb and then Gavin started school it was out of control. Let me set a picture for you – Three kids jump off the bus, excited to be home. Throwing lunch boxes in the vicinity of the kitchen counter, back packs get dropped by the front door, shoes, coats, maybe even snow gear get dumped in a weird pathway leading to where the snacks are at in the kitchen. I mean, these kids are hungry, they learned and played all day without ever touching their lunch, it takes a lot of effort to only eat the sugar things in their lunch and ignore all healthy options meticulously packed.

Now either you or your kids unpack the back packs, there is art projects, a permission slip for one child, two kids have library books, one has a birthday invitation, PTO has sent home a notice about a bake sale, weekly homework charts, a spelling list, and sight words all need to be kept and somehow not lost so each item can be addressed, handled and sent back to class on time. There is also a cute essay you want to save, and tons of papers to ohh and ahh over and then throw in the recycling bin.

What do you do with all of that school stuff? I fell into this problem and I had piles everywhere, piles no one could touch in case one thing got misplaced. Still library books got lost, a new permission slip had to be sent home, and sometimes even frantically texting another Mom to photocopy the homework that was lost. It happens, believe me.


So now that the reality of kids in school has set in and the problem areas have been explained, let me share my back to school home hacks to tackle most of these issues. First, wall hooks. Seriously as many as you can find wall space for! I have a set of hooks in our mudroom for each child’s back pack. This is not a fancy mud room, it is a small corner of our laundry room that I commandeered into a mudroom.

I also have another set of hooks in one end of our hallway, it was actual wasted space that was not ever used. I added more hooks here, my kids hang their coats and snow gear here in winter. So we have solved one problem instantly, the kids walk in the door and there is a designated place to hang their backpacks and coats. No more trail of items from the front door! A mudroom or laundry room is not needed, just a wall with enough space to hang some hooks and backpacks. A lot of people feel that they need the “Pinterest” friendly mudroom situation. The reality is a wall will work the same, a wall in your hallway, by your front door, in the living room; whatever works for you. Cute little kids hooks with their name or initial on it will be cute no matter what.

So backpacks and gear are handled. Now, papers. So many papers! The scenario I shared may not seem too bad, but that is every day, the situation can get messy, disorganized and things will get lost. Don’t be that Mom that missed the note about Wednesday being bring a stuffed animal to school day. I was that Mom and received a call from a crying first grader who was in the office, I missed the note home and my Mom guilt was big. Even with my frantic run to school with her favorite stuffed animal did not take away my guilt. Find a place for those notes!

The refrigerator is a tried and true place to have the birthday invitations, permission slips, or notes. But if you want to up your organization game set up a place in your home for a command center. I know, I know. I just said you do not have to get fancy or Pinterest-y to be ready for school. Hear me out, nothing fancy needs to be done. I made one in the same unused space in my hallway, seriously anyone do anything of importance in a hallway other than walk in it? Use that space!

I made a family command center by using chalkboard paint that is magnetic. Then I created a calendar I can create each month, adding any reminders, schedule or important events. The magnetic paint allows me to have magnets to hold those permission slips or other important reminders.

With three kids I also cannot keep track of library days, orchestra days or when they have gym class. So I write a little note at the top of the calendar with each child’s initial and what days they have these things happening in school. My son Caleb comes to me and asks when his library book is due, I have no clue but now I can direct him to the command center and he can check for himself. Boom, organization and teaching a little independence, Mom mic drop!

Now, onto the hardest part, all of those papers. Not the ones that went into the recycling bin after your kids left the room. I am talking about the homework folder, spelling list, sight word list, library books, and anything that has information that needs to be kept for longer than one day. Where does that stuff go?

I purchased three wall baskets and hung them above each child’s hook in my mudroom nook. I did get fancy with it, spray painting and adding a cute paper to them but they function the same even if they are not made cute. This is where everything that is homework related goes. I keep each child’s classroom information and passwords here, Extra math sign up info, and if they brought home their Chromebooks or iPads from school they would be kept here as well.

This has been the actual life saver, seriously. My kids come home and I tell them to empty their back packs, putting any homework in the baskets. I also keep a folder in there for their homework to be kept in. Then when it is time to do homework they can grab their folder and bring it out to work on. Any papers that are not homework is then set on the kitchen counter for me to go through.

So at the end of the day while the kids are eating their afternoon snack I have a much more manageable pile of papers to sift through. Most ending up in the recycling, a few get posted on the command center to be dealt with later. Boom, done!

I created a few places to display their works of art, while the fridge is a coveted spot it is a high traffic area and papers get knocked off of it all the time. So there is a wall space in the sun room, which is off of the kitchen where my kids Picasso-like creations reside. The small shelf is where I display their weird and sometimes creepy ceramic things they made in art class. Don’t get me wrong, I adore, ohh and ahh over them but what do you do with a wobbly and janky looking questionable animal with multi colored and one eyed? I put them all together in a explosion of color and creativity on this shelf and I adore this little corner of my house so much! The other place we show off their masterpieces is in their bedrooms, either in the boy room with the DIY large picture frame turned art display or in my daughter’s bedroom in smaller picture frames. Pretty much my home has been sponsored by my kids artwork!

I know it seems like a lot of effort and it is for sure, but with some plans beforehand everything becomes very manageable. My husband Dale jokes that the entire end of our hallway has been overtaken with “kids stuff”. It is true, we have the command center and mudroom area all in one spot. Let’s be real though, we have three kids. Our entire home for the foreseeable future has been overtaken by kids. He is not new around here, this is the reality of having kids. Baby swings, diapers and wipes in random places around the house just in case was replaced by a toddler potty in the living room, then bins of big Legos in the living room, crayons at the coffee table, and kids books taking the place of adult books. We are just in the next phase of parenthood and that is school gear.

These back to school home hacks are lifesavers! When the kids come home they go on autopilot putting their backpacks away, their coats and snow gear is hung up and homework is organized in it’s spot right away. I am kidding, I still have to point out something that someone did not pick up and put away. But now I can do the Mom thing that is nagging them while pointing at the object that they then pick up and put away. We all know the routine, they know where things go. My guess is they miss my Mom nagging voice while at school so they have a need for it when they come home.

So to all of you newbie parents at school drop off, hug your littles and take pride in how far you have come. It does get easier to send them off to school and you will be amazed in their growth during the school year. Sending your kids off to school is the most bittersweet moment of parenting, but getting glimpses of this tiny person turning into who they are in the world is such an honor. The friendships, lessons learned and memories they will make this school year are immeasurable. Be ready with cookies, arms wide open and ready to hear all about their day. Also, hopefully you can use some of my Back to school home hacks to soften the craziness that is school gear and you can take part in the next tried and true tradition of parenting…. asking about their days, eagerly awaiting to hear every detail and getting “good, nothing happened” when you ask how their day went. Then the other tried and true tradition of either eating dinner at 4:30 pm or 8 pm because soccer practice, horse riding, ballet lessons, orchestra practice or an event at school means we are pulled in 1,000 directions every evening. Welcome friends to the trenches of elementary school parenting. It is a wild ride, one that will speed by so fast. We will make it through with a child who is firm in who they are, strong friendships, life lessons, skills learned, and so many wall hooks in our house we won’t know what to do with in a few years. Enjoy the ride, it speeds up from here on out!


Here are the DIY projects featured in this blog post –









  1. What great ideas! I need to do this because right now, we do have papers everywhere and school has only been in session 2 weeks. Your areas look nice and clean!

  2. I love how you used space in your hallway to make a family command center. That’s brilliant! I would have never thought to do that. Actually, I love all of your back-to-school hacks for the home. It helps things run much more smoothly.

  3. My daughter has done this with her three children and boy does it help cut down on lost items. Kids know where everything goes. Makes life easier.

  4. You are so organized and having a hook for the knapsacks really is a great idea. Your board is also a great way not to forget things. I have a cork board that is overflowing already.

  5. Those backpacks are a fabulous idea. Every mom should see this post! I love the board, too.

  6. Love love love! And I NEED your little school corner. And I may copy your idea and do one just for sports too (equipment, receipts, etc) Thank you!

  7. I love how organized you are. The organizers for all the loose papers that come from school is so important. The board looks fantastic as well.

  8. These are great ideas. I love the hooks and folder holders with their names. I’ve never had to organize for more than one at a time because our girls were so far part in age. I can only image it takes some work.

  9. These are amazing ways to keep everything organized. Love the baskets!

  10. These hacks are so awesome! My kids have been back in school for close to a month and we are still struggling. I need all the help I can get.

  11. I love the blackboard you created to keep organized for back to school. Your home looks beautiful I really like the pops of turquoise you’ve incorporated throughout the house.

  12. You are both organized and handy and I salute you. I just have one kid so I mostly make notes on my iPhone calendar and text my husband. I do want to set up an at-home work station for her so I will definitely use some of your hacks.

  13. Hanging those filers are super genius. There is always so much paperwork with schools and this is a great way to not keep them hanging around everywhere.

  14. You are so organized. I’ve been peeking through your ideas for my new apartment. I’ll have more room to work with and I can’t wait to try some of your DIY projects. I love the chalkboard calender.

  15. Staying organized is a big component of success. If people followed this, life would be smoother!

  16. Your projects are always inspiring to me. It gives me ideas on how to improve my home.

  17. Good utilization of space and lovely ideas.

  18. I don’t have kids and I am not going back to school but I love how organized your home is!! I have a huge wall calendar that I use for my work schedule and appointments and that thing is a life saver!!

  19. Talk about being organized! I think this is really important so you can also keep track of all the school letters and homework that the kids may have during the school year. These are awesome tips for all parents!

  20. Wow, I love this idea. Definitely a great tip especially when having many kids. Very organised and looks very clean. I will share this to my colleagues too so they can use it as a guide.

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