5 Time Saving Back to School Tips

By Beth Neely, Macaroni KID Rancho Cucamonga Publisher July 24, 2022

The first couple of months back to school can be a bit crazy. Drop-offs, pick-ups, after-school practices, homework, and getting dinner on the table - plus all the other work that needs to get done during the day. It can be so overwhelming getting back into a routine after enjoying those relaxing summer days. 

Here are 5 time-saving tips to help you keep your sanity and hopefully give you a little more time for yourself, and your family. 


If you haven't heard about the Cozi app you are going to LOVE this family tool. Cozi is a free all-in-one calendar, shopping, and chore/to-do list app. AKA: a parent's best friend. Our family has been using this app for over 9 years now and it has been so helpful in keeping everyone’s different schedules and to-do lists in one place. With one main family account, every family member is given a color code.  From there, each person can input their schedule, to-do list and shopping list needs right from their phone. Once someone inputs changes, the app will automatically update to everyone's linked phone. No more forgetting things at the store, missing appointments or wondering what everyone's plans are for the day. This app is a family must-have, especially with teens in the house. Compatible with both Android and iPhone. You can pay for an upgraded version but we stick with the basic free plan for now.


This isn't anything new, but if you have kids in school having one place to keep all the papers is so important. I know that there are a million Pinterest boards floating around with the most beautiful command centers out there. One day, when I get the time, I may just get around to pulling together a Pinterest-worthy command center, but for now, done is better than perfect. At the very least have a place where you can do a weekly calendar snapshot, pens/pencils/sharpies ready to grab, meal ideas, message board for quick notes to one another and a file folder for each member of your family. From everyday mail, school reminders and important papers, it's been so helpful having a place to put things out of site but easy to find when I need them. Trust me, you will love having this set up. Then later go ahead and make it "Pinterest perfect!"


There is nothing better than having a basic idea of what to expect for the week ahead. Take a little bit of time on Sunday to go through your upcoming week and plan out meal ideas and any special plans that need to be talked about together. This does not have to be a long process or a huge undertaking.  I take about 30 minutes every Sunday afternoon and look at what I have to create meals with and glance over our schedules in Cozi so I know what my days will look like. From there my shopping list for the week is made and I know what we have on hand to make on those crazy evenings where everyone has to be somewhere at the same time. If you want to go crazy doing actual meal prep, then knock yourself out! For me, just knowing what we have on hand so I don't have to think about what we are eating is enough. 


If your child is in preschool to high school, this one is for you. We all know that kids can do a lot to help us throughout the day, we just need to give them that little nudge of independence from time to time. Obviously, depending on your child's age, your checklists will be different and yes, there may still be some prep work on your end if they are little but I've seen firsthand how this tip will save you time and teach your kids how to own their days. 

In the morning before school, you can give your child a list of things to do from the time they get up to the time they walk out the door. From brushing their teeth, getting dressed, packing their lunches, and making their own breakfast. They can do it! You may have to list out lunch packing ideas and breakfast items they can make. You may have to stand there for a few days and teach them how to do it. But when they learn, it's the best 5-10 extra minutes you'll get to sit there, sip your coffee, and smile. 

After school, they can wash up from the day, get themselves a snack, pull out all the important papers they need to pass along to you (hello, command center), and get their homework started. Leaving you with time to finish up your work from the day, text your girlfriends and get dinner started. 


This has been by far my favorite time saver. When the kids were in preschool I went to Target and purchased small/medium-sized plastic bins with lids and let the kids decorate the outside with whatever they wanted. Over the years the bins changed from Thomas the Train and Dora the Explorer stickers to hand-drawn pictures and sayings. In each bin went all their homework supplies that they may need for the year. From scissors, glue sticks, tape, crayons, markers, colored papers, extra lined and graph paper, erasers, extra pencils, index cards for making flashcards and folders to hold any homework they wanted to save. After they grab themselves a snack, they grab their homework bins and get started on their homework. No more "Mom, I need...." because it's all right there in their bins!