Setting Routines for the School Year

By Stephanie King Professional Organiser – Octarine Projects

Are you breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are finally over and the kids are back at school? Or is your anxiety level slowly rising because you know you need to be organised, have more deadlines, and mornings turn you into a yelling commando, just to get teeth brushed and shoelaces tied?  Probably reality is somewhere in the middle. This is where setting good routines and habits have their place and become invaluable allies to help you through your day.  And routines do not only help you as a parent, but also help your children by making the day more predictable.

Getting organised before school starts

In order to get the best out of a school routine, you should get prepared and organised first.  That way you are not being distracted looking for stuff or improvising when you are pressed for time.

  • Make room for the school clothes in the wardrobe, decide on a spot for the school bag and have the school shoes on a shoe rack or in a shoe box, ready for school. Check for any items that need mending or need to be replaced.

  • Find a spot for the school hat (it is amazing how often they magically disappear!).

  • Designate one shelf in your fridge and pantry – or part of a shelf to school lunches and snack boxes – that way your child will find them easily and you see quicker whether anything is running out.

  • If your child participates in after school activities like sports or arts, music, make sure there is a designated spot for those items as well.

  • Establish one area in the house, this could be a shelf, trolley or sideboard, to create a charging station for phones, tablets and laptops. This will help you find the devices, monitor that they are not being used at night, and ensure they are fully charged the next morning, ready for school.

  • Ensure your child has a designated homework space. While the dining area is very popular, a study desk in the child’s room is a better option as it can be permanently set up with shelving, drawers and boxes for books and art supplies.  At the same time, try to get a table and chair that are the right height for the child, or that can grow with the child.

  • Invest in uniform containers for school lunches and snacks. That way they stack better in your shelves and fridge, and your kids will easily find them.  You could even colour code them for morning tea, lunch, recess, crunch&munch, etc.

  • Get a child sized water bottle that fits into your fridge and freezer and have some ice bricks at hand to keep the lunches cool. Ensure the school bag fits the lunch box, and the lunch box fits the food containers and water bottle.

  • If your child needs medication, make sure you have that on hand as well, together with clear instructions for the teachers.

  • Label all school clothes, lunch boxes, snack boxes, shoes, in short, just about everything your child takes to school. It will help the school return any lost items to your child and stop any arguments in the school yard.

  • Last but not least, – especially if you have kindergarten aged children – prepare a few baggage tags that you can attach to their bag that show whether the child is on car line, bus line (include bus number) or going to OOSH after school – teachers will thank you for it!  If they take the bus, a conference style lanyard with the bus pass will keep the pass safe and help your kids find it in the bag.

These are all good reasons to set good routines.

While the routines below are mostly written for the parent, you can certainly divide and conquer – give your child the responsibility for some of the tasks, and build their responsibility as they get older. Plus, tailor them to your needs.

Routines for busy parents

Parents and Kids together

Sunday Checklist:

  • All school clothes are washed, ironed and ready for Monday
  • All groceries for lunches and snacks for the week are bought
  • School shoes, hat, bag and bus pass have been found and are in their allocated place
  • Prepare the snack boxes for the week in advance. I make up little salad boxes for the whole family to take to school and work and if stored in the fridge they last until Friday (unless they are eaten earlier….) – I found it a total time saver, plus there is always a healthy snack in the fridge when the kids come home hungry after school.

If you are keen, prepare the main lunches as well, many can be stored in the freezer until you need them.

Evening Routine for Parents

  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Make sure that it is not a pupil free day or out of uniform day!
  • Set the alarm clock for the next day.
  • Make sure the kids go to bed on time so they are well rested for the next day – you may have a special bed-time routine for the kids as well
  • Ensure all electronic devices are on the charging station and plugged into the chargers
  • If you want to be super-organised, set the table ready for breakfast!
  • Sit back and relax, you’re all set for the week!

Bedtime Routine for Kids

  • Pack your bag ready for the next day
  • Check whether it is normal school uniform or sports uniform
  • Change into pyjamas, brush teeth, hop into bed with a book to read for a little bit, then sleep.

Morning Routine for Parents

  • Wake up – how about trying to wake up a bit earlier to carve out time for yourself before everyone else gets up?
  • Get up, have a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth, feed the pets, water the garden – in short, do what you need to do to get yourself and the house ready for the day.
  • Prepare their lunches if you haven’t already.
  • Wake up the kids at least one hour before they need to leave to go to school- you may have a special morning routine for them, too. Given you are already well prepared and organised, they should find everything they need really quickly.
  • Make sure they know how they get home (car, bus, walking or OOSH) …and off to school they go

Morning Routine for Kids

  • Wake up, get up, get dressed, have breakfast, brush teeth
  • Pack lunch bags, water bottles
  • Check how to get home
  • Put on shoes, grab hat and off to school!

Afternoon Routine for Parents

This depends on how your child gets home, and what afternoon activities may be on the schedule!

It could look like this:

  • Pick up kids from OOSH
  • Supervise homework
  • Prepare and enjoy dinner
  • 30min reading time with the kids

Coming Home Routine for Kids

This is really the time when they have to take charge and go through their routine:

  • Change out of the School Clothes and put them in the Laundry Hamper or in a designated area of the wardrobe, ready for the next day
  • Put all the other items in their assigned places so you’ll find them in the morning
  • Complete homework for the day in the space that is set up for it
  • Play, go to a friend’s house or take part in other activities, do some chores, etc.
  • Have dinner

And start over with the evening routine … good luck!

If you follow a routine for long enough, it may become a habit, and at that stage, you’re ready to add the next routine to your life.

Just remember – it does take between 3 to 6 weeks to break a habit, and the same time to establish a new one, so do not be to hard on yourself.  Take it in your own stride, one step at a time, and if you trip, smile, have a cuppa, and give yourself a cheer, because hey, you are on your way and tripping over is part of the journey!

Stefanie King

About Stefanie

Stefanie established her Lake Macquarie based Professional Organising business Octarine Projects in 2018 to assist clients to achieve their business and private goals in a timely and structured manner, .

As a working mum of two very busy primary aged girls, she knows all about the hectic mornings trying to get ready for school, ever hungry kids coming back from school wanting snacks and endless questions before bedtime. Good routines, the right storage options and a good deal of patience will help you get there!

Whether you need help de-cluttering your spare room, structure your day or organise your home business, or need some time management skills, Stefanie will be happy to have a chat and see where she can assist on your journey.  With a little bit of help you can make a start to re-discover your house … and sometimes yourself.

Stefanie is a member of The IOPO International (Institute of Professional Organisers) (

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Copyright Howards Storage World January 2020