The 13 Best Back to School Organizing Ideas

My boys started back to school this week, so we spent the weekend in back to school prep mode! We shopped for school supplies and new clothes, and of course, spent some time getting the house organized and ready for the fall routine. 

I've rounded up all of my best back to school organizing ideas, including kitchen organizing tips to make breakfast and school lunch packing easier, tips for organizing homework, schoolwork, and art work, and tips to keep your morning routine running smoothly.

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1. Plastic wine racks work perfectly for organizing water bottles on cabinet shelves

These stacking wine bottles holders are the perfect size for both kids' and adults' water bottles. They keep the bottles neatly organized and prevent that domino effect of bottles falling out when you open the cabinet door. Get more cabinet organizing tips.

2. Use baskets or drawers to create dedicated spaces for kids' breakfasts, school lunch foods, and after school snacks

Organizing categories of food into labeled baskets makes it easier for every member of the family to find what they need. The floor space of a pantry is often under utilized, but stacking drawers can allow you to take full advantage of this precious real estate. 

The contents of the stacking drawers on the floor of my pantry change from year to year as my kids' tastes change, but they are always the perfect spot for storing items that we buy in bulk for packing school lunches and mom approved after school snacks. 

Drawers for packing school lunches

Want more pantry organizing tips? Read my full post on our organized pantry with a 5 step organizing process.

3. Keep reusable lunch packing containers in a dedicated space

To make lunch packing quick and easy, I keep all the small reusable containers that we use for school lunches contained in one drawer. It saves time to keep all of the lunch packing containers that are already labeled with the kids' names separate from the tupperware that we use for leftovers. 

Drawer of tupperware for packing school lunches

I've used these same square containers for lunches since the boys were in preschool, but I also recently fell in love with some containers with ice packs that snap right into the lids which work perfectly for keeping fruits and other foods fresh until lunch.

4. Use a freezer basket to keep lunch box ice packs together

I place ice packs in my kids' lunch boxes each day, and also usecontainers with smaller ice packs that snap into the lids for the snacks that the kids take to school and soccer practice. Until recently, all of these ice packs were just floating around in my freezer drawers and I was always searching for the size I needed.

I recently reorganized my freezer, and these
divided freezer bins are prefect for keeping our ice packs all in one place so that I can quickly grab what I need as I pack lunches and snacks.

5. Hang lunch bags from the wall of the pantry

We have finally gotten into a good routine where the boys empty their backpacks and lunch bags as soon as they get home from school each day, and we hang their lunch bags from on two
Command hooks on the narrow wall just inside our pantry. Giving the lunch bags a dedicated spot keeps them off the floor and ensures that we always know where they are when it's time to pack another lunch tomorrow.

Lunch boxes hanging on wall of pantry

If you don't have wall space in the pantry to hang lunch bags, give lunch boxes a dedicated basket or drawer in the pantry or another kitchen cabinet so that everyone knows right where to find them.


6. Designate a library book basket

If you've ever found yourself searching bookshelves for a library book on the day its due to be returned, you need a dedicated "Library Book Basket." Just pick a stylish basket and add a label so that everyone in the family knows where library books belong. Keep the basket in the place that the kids spend most of their time reading - whether that's their bedroom, living room, or somewhere else - so that they are more likely to return the books to this basket when they are done. 

Click here for the simple instructions for making a leather label like the one on our wire library book basket.

7. Organize schoolwork and display kids art

Kids bring home so much schoolwork and artwork! Each week, the boys and I go through their papers together to decide what is important to keep and what can be recycled. We then repeat the process at the end of each semester. I find that after a little time has passed, it's easier for all of us to choose just our very favorites and the work they are most proud of. 

I added two magnetic strips and two translucent file boxes the wall space in the corner of the boys' bedroom to give us a place to display their favorite art projects and keep their schoolwork organized throughout the school year. Get all the details on this quick five minute organizing project.

Magnetic art display hanging file storage organization

8. File important school paperwork and documents

I use an acrylic file sorter on our kitchen counter to organize all of the mail and paper that comes into our house on a daily basis, including important school paperwork. 

Sort school paperwork on kitchen counter

Within this file sorter I have numerous labeled folders – including one with each boy’s name and another labeled “Take Action.” The files with the boys’ names I use for general school paperwork, including school newsletters and the like, while the “Take Action” folder is where we place school documents that need to be signed or other papers that require some action on our part. Read more about our paper organizing system.

9. Create a homework cart

Since my boys are in early elementary school, most of their homework right now involves crayons or markers, so the art cart in our kitchen also doubles as our homework cart. But for older kids, this same rolling cart set up would work perfectly for organizing pens, pencils, writing paper, reference and text books, and other homework essentials. To organize our cart, I used two stacking supply caddies, brightly colored file boxes and translucent zippered pouches.


10. Days of the Week Clothing Organization

Once my boys started having strong opinions about their clothes, we needed a way to keep our morning routine running smoothly. There's just not enough time in the mornings for indecisiveness about what to wear (this is true for the kids and for me, haha). The boys now choose their clothes for the week in advance, and use this shelf unit that we tucked into the front corner of Beckett's closet to lay out everything that's needed for each morning. Get all the details, including these printable days of the week letter stickers here

Days of the Week Closet Organizer

11. Organize gear for sports and after school activities

My younger son's closet is quite small, with very narrow, double doors that pull open. We needed storage space for all of his hats and shoes, as well as a way to organize the clothing and gear he needs for after school activities like soccer and swimming.

I found a narrow over closet door organizer with spacious pockets and placed one on the back of each closet door. One of the pockets is large enough to accommodate his soccer jersey, shorts, socks, shin guards, and cleats. On the opposite door, we use one of the pockets for swim trunks, googles, and a rolled up towel. Having all the needed items for after school activities in one place makes it quick and easy for us to pack up everything we need for the day before heading out in the morning.


Organizing on the back of doors is a great way to maximize your storage space. Get 14 more back of door storage ideas!

12. Give each kid their own drawer in the coat closet

We used to be dig through the coat closet each morning trying to find a matching pair of gloves for each kid, or searching for a lost snow boot on the way out the door. It was stressful and frustrating - not a great way to start the day! When we designed a new closet system in the coat closet, my number one requirement was a drawer for each member of the family, and now everyone can always find their own hats and gloves. We also added two shelves on the side to keep boots in place.

If your coat closet is smaller, or you don't want to install a custom closet system, plastic stacking drawers on the bottom of the closet are a great alternative. And adding a hanging shoe bag to the back of the coat closet door provides lots of extra space perfect for storing hats, scarves, and gloves. Get more small coat closet organizing tips.

Organized Coat Closet - Small Coat Closet Storage

13. Use clips to keep name labels in easy reach

I label all of my boys' water bottles, snack containers, jackets, and other winter gear. I am not a big fan of writing on their things with a permanent black marker. I prefer to order waterproof/washable name labels from Label Daddy. It seems like nearly every day something new needs to be labeled, so I always keep a few clipped to the mini clipboards on our pantry. The mudroom or coat closet would be another great place to clip up name labels for easy access 
before you head out the door

See how I customized these clipboards with my boys' art and also turned them into chalkboards for school notes and reminders.

DIY Chalkboard Clipboards Kids Art

1 comment :

  1. I love the pantry ideas so much! Also the days of the week clothing in the closet - with Autumn that would be ideal!!! Brandon - eh - would be interesting LOL - he may be wearing stuffed animals to school. ;-)