16 of the Best Back-to-School Hacks Every Parent will be Thankful for

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Preparing for back-to-school is chaos, between buying school supplies and new wardrobes. Make your life a little easier with these quick back-to-school hacks that’ll help you save time and money all school year long!

1. Let the kids plan their own lunches… with a little help.

school lunch weekly menu plan

Headed to the grocery store? Make a “menu” of lunch options. Then have your kids write which items they’d like in their lunch boxes that week (pepperoni and string cheese vs. cheese/turkey roll-ups vs. tuna and cheese, etc.). Time saver? Yes, thanks!

This cute weekly school lunch menu plan is available to print FREE via OrganizingHomeLife.com.

2. Create a bin for school shoes (and save even more time).

basket of shoes

Skip the “lost shoe scramble” when the bus is approaching! Have kids toss their shoes into the school shoe bin each afternoon and retrieve them before they head out every morning. Fast and simple!

Hip Tip – Check out some of our favorite baskets and bins from Target!

3. Tough time finding art supplies at homework time? Check the door!

closet door shoe organizer with back to school supplies

Pick up a clear plastic shoe organizer and hang it over your door. Then pack it with your most-used homework supplies so they’re always ready. Glue sticks? Got ’em! Crayons? Right here!

Hip Tip: Hang a shoe organizer on the kitchen pantry door with grab and go snacks for school as well, to help kids pack their own snack/lunch quickly.

4. Use a beverage bottle instead of ice packs – it’s already in the lunchbox!

water bottle and snack inside lunch box

Skip bulky ice packs! Instead, fill your child’s regular drink bottle 1/3 full using their regular drink the night before school (juice, milk, etc). Freeze it overnight – then in the morning, fill it the rest of the way. By lunchtime, they’ll have a nice, cold drink!

5. Carve out a reading nook in your house.

girl reading book in book nook

Kids who are distracted easily may not be able to read without interruption. So when you place big pillows or a soft pouf chair in a specific area, they’ll equate that reading nook with enjoying their favorite books, whether it’s Harry Potter or Dork Diaries!

6. Leave reminders on the mirror so kids don’t forget.

library book reminder written on bathroom mirror

If your kids need a few quick reminders in the a.m., jot them onto the mirror with a dry erase marker. They’ll plan out their days while brushing their teeth!

7. Pre-slice an apple or orange, and keep it fresh with rubber bands.

rubber band holding apple slices together

Cut up your child’s fruit and then put it back into formation, secured with an ever-present rubber band! This helps prevent fruit from browning.

Hip Tip: Another favorite tip to prevent browning is to sprinkle apples and other fruit with Ball Fruit-Fresh.

8. Hang hooks to fight backpack clutter.

install backpack hooks for back to school

Hang metal hooks in the entryway or homework area to get backpacks off of the floor. It’s neater, and your kids won’t misplace them. We installed these oil bronzed hooks. They’re high quality and can hold lots of weight since backpacks can get heavy – especially for older kids!

Hip Tip: Read how we built a modern farmhouse-style hall tree on Hip2Behome.com for an organized drop off zone.

9. Keep outfits organized with soda-tab hanger extenders.

sada can tab to organize outfits for kids

Do you have a kiddo who spends WAY too much time getting dressed in the morning (or who pairs stripes with polka dots – especially on picture day)? Slide a soda tab over a hanger to put outfits together on the same hanger. More clothes neatly stored means less space required and less guesswork!

Hip Tip – Check out more clever organization tips to tackle a messy kids closet!

10. Create a sock bin instead of matching socks.

bin of socks for back to school organizing

Buy multiple sets of the same socks and keep them separated in a basket. You’ll never hear “I can’t find a matching pair” again!

11. Wrangle computer cables with binder clips.

binder clips holding charging cords in place

Take those binder clips out of the junk drawer and use them to organize the cables on the computer desk. You’ll never have trouble finding the printer cable again!

12. Use candy and drink packaging as lunchtime condiment containers.

condiment container with mustard label

Kids don’t want to eat lunch without their favorite ketchup, mustard, or mayo? Send lunchbox condiments in single-serving containers like empty Tic Tac or MiO packaging!

13. Create high-protein grab-and-go bags each Sunday to save time.

holding baggie of homemade trail mix snack

Create sandwich bags filled with nuts, seeds, raisins, and other energy-packed ingredients at the beginning of the week. Hand them out on days when kids are running late for the bus. No time for cereal? No problem!

14. Don’t bog their backpacks down with water weight.

water bottle hanging off backpack

Does your child like to take a water bottle to school but complains about the heavy backpack? Have them hang an empty bottle from their backpack, and they can fill it at school. Hydration without the heavy lifting!

Hip Tip: Carabiner clips are handy to attach water bottles, sunscreen, or hand sanitizer to your child’s backpack so they are easy to reach!

15. Eliminate boredom in quiet moments with audiobooks.

boy listening to audio books using headphones

For older students who are short on time but have a lot of reading to accomplish, download required books in their audio version and have them listen at the bus stop (and anywhere else). They’ll master the classics in no time!

16. Turn your vinyl cutting machine into the ultimate back to school label maker!

back to school items labeled with a Cricut

Personalizing and labeling school supplies, lunch boxes, and water bottles is a cinch using my Cricut cutting machine to make both iron-on vinyl and permanent vinyl labels! Check out all the reasons why I love my Cricut.

Have older students? Check out this Amazon Prime Student offer!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in Today.com, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 14

  1. Lori

    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome Lori! ❤️

  2. Mary

    Awesome tips, BIG THANKSS!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks Mary!

  3. MM

    Great ideas. One more, I put a Ziploc bag in the lunch box and have taught the kids to put empty containers in them so things don’t leak. Saves time and water.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice- thanks for sharing!

  4. Eleni

    Freeze a Capri sun to use as an ice pack. Usually defrosted by lunch or a slushy snack

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Love that tip – thanks!

    • MissLauraLou

      Or a yogurt tube!

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Yes love that idea too!

  5. Brenda

    Thank you for all the amazing tips hip2save ladies and gents! Hands down the best site out there 💜

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s so sweet – thanks Brenda!

  6. Leanne D

    I don’t have any small kids anymore, but wish I had this site when I did. Packing lunch everyday was a chore. Your suggestions are great!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Aw thanks Leanne!

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