SC Johnson Family Economics Blog
Friday, August 26, 2016

5 Time-Saving Tips for Back-to-School | Family Economics

By Melissa Hincha-Ownby

August is back-to-school season for millions of children across the nation. Gone are the slow-paced, relaxing days of summer; instead, hectic mornings and busy evenings are back. Even though my children are older and more independent, I still get caught up in the back-to-school rush, which can be stressful for our entire family.

Over the years I’ve noticed that if we’re all a little more organized, the mornings and evenings flow more smoothly. Here are a few of the time-saving tips for back-to-school that I’ve learned to keep sane in this busy season.

Lunch Box

1. Prep the night before
Take advantage of the longer evening hours by preparing as much as you can for the next day. With your extra time, you can better prepare eco-friendly choices for your children. One idea is to purchase a fun reusable lunchbox that your kids will look forward to seeing at lunch each day. Also, you can portion out single-servings of crackers or other snacks in Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bags, which can be recycled in many municipalities. Some other things to do before heading to bed include setting out tomorrow’s outfit, making sure backpacks are packed, having your children pick up their rooms and having their baths. You can also take this early preparation a step further and make breakfast for the next day. For example, try this delicious recipe for Overnight Oats with blackberries, pistachios and coconut.

2. Create before and after-school schedules
Knowing what you have to do before and after school is pretty simple, but remembering it all can be difficult. The easiest way for everyone to keep track of what needs to be done every day is to create a before and after-school schedule. Even as an adult, I find schedules, or at least a task list, an integral part of my day. Sit down with your children and create a realistic schedule for morning and evening tasks. Be prepared to tweak the schedule as needed.

3. Set reminders
Now that you have decided to do prep work the night before and you have your schedules created, you need to set reminders. When I was a kid, we used an old-fashioned egg timer to keep us on task. Now I just set a reminder on my smart phone and send it to the kids’ phones. When the reminder pops up the kids know that it is time to finish up one task and start another.

4. Set up a dedicated homework space
Setting up a fully stocked, dedicated homework space is a time saver. When your children get home from school they know exactly where to go to do their homework. If it is stocked with pencils, erasers, paper, etc., then there is no time wasted looking for a sharpened pencil or some scratch paper for math.

5. Limit screen time
Limiting screen time, in general, is a good habit to get into but I’ve found that the type of screen time my kids want has changed as they’ve gotten older. Right now social media and text messages with friends make up the majority of their screen time. It is distracting and can be a time sink so we have a no phones while doing homework rule.

What is your favorite time-saving tip for back-to-school?

Photo courtesy of Melissa Hincha-Ownby.

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