Working Mama’s Guide to Staying Organized During the School Year


With the girls going back to school next Thursday, I’m working through our morning routines and how we can stay on top of things (a.k.a. Mama keeping her sanity).  I don’t know about you, but I have to start my day off feeling ready- otherwise I’m stressed and unorganized from the get go. Here are some tips that we use around the Cowell house to stay organized during the school year.

  1. Meal plan.

I plan and shop for meals a month at a time.  If I’m going to spend an hour planning for one week, I might as well power through and plan the entire month- then it’s done! I make a huge list of all the meat, frozen, and nonperishable items and shop for those during the first week of the month. Then all I have to do is hit the store for a quick produce, eggs, and milk trip once a week. I’ve been doing this for a year and a half and it is a lifesaver! I’m committed to dinners together at home as a family.  (and…my budget and healthy eating doesn’t allow much eating out)

2. Pack lunches for the whole week on the weekend

Dan and I started this last year and it was great.  On Sunday afternoon/evenings we’d spend about 30-45 minutes and pack ours and the girls’ lunches for the whole week.   Each evening, all we had to do was grab it and pack it up.  What a time saver for busy weeks!

3. Get everything ready the night before

Before I go to bed, I pack up all of my work stuff, the girls’ school stuff, and anything else we would need for the next day.  Lunches are packed and ready for the next day and sitting in the refrigerator.  If I can, I go ahead and put things in the car.  If it can’t tolerate the heat overnight, I put it right by the door.  There is nothing that will stress me out more than flying around, looking for stuff while I’m trying to get out the door.   Seriously worth about 15 minutes of your time.

4. Iron clothes for the week, including church, on the weekend

Sometime during the weekend, I pop in a movie or watch an episode of Fixer Upper and iron all my, Dan’s and the girls’ clothes for the week.  It takes 45 minutes to an hour, but it is a huge help each morning. I go ahead and pick out shoes and jewelry and have everything ready to go.   I even look ahead to the weekend and iron for any events that weekend as well as church Sunday morning while I have the iron up.

5. Clean the kitchen, straighten up before going to bed

After we put the girls to bed, Dan and I do a big sweep of the house. We put everything away, clean the kitchen, and start the dishwasher.   I can’t stand to start my day, walking into the kitchen or living room and it being a mess.   Talk about stressed out first thing.  With two people, it only takes us about 30 minutes.

6. Set out your workout clothes the night before.

I run every morning,  so I always set out my clothes the night before.  No one wants to be fumbling around for two socks that match at 4:30 am….

7.  Get ready before your kids

This will be a new one for me this school year. I’m planning to be 80-90% ready before my girls get up. That way I’m not panicked to get them ready as well as myself.  We’ll see how that goes.

8. Pick out kids’ clothes for the entire week, on the weekend.

I go ahead and set out five outfits, with socks and bows on the weekend for the whole week. This literally takes five minutes, but saves so much time each morning.  I’m going to give my 3 year old more choice this year in picking her clothes, so doing this on the weekend will save me the discussions (arguments….) with her every morning.

9. Straighten up before leaving the house.

Much like we do each evening, five minutes before we walk out the door, Dan and I breeze through our rooms and main living areas and pick up.   When I get home after work, I do not want to walk into a mess.

10.  Laundry

I hate, hate laundry.  To break up the torture, I do a load or two every/every other night.  It keeps things in check and also saves me from spending all day Saturday in front of the dryer.  Kill me now.

11. Make your bed

Just like the straightening up…making your bed every morning just makes coming home from a busy day so much better. Everything is clean and welcoming 🙂

Hope these are helpful! Any other ideas???