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How To Simplify Going Back To School

How To Simplify Going Back To School

Here are some helpful tips on how to simplify going back to school and create a simple school routine that works for you and your children.


Going back to school can be a little bit stressful but there are some easy ways to simplify back to school preparation if you can plan and get organised in advance.

Today I’m sharing some little tips that I’ve picked up over the years and that we ourselves use in our house. My children find them helpful and I find it much easier to gently transition from the holidays to school routine when I have these things in place.

I can plan my schedule, establish my own daily routine and make sure I’ve got the house and the resources we need (including food, stationery and uniform) all in place for when we need it. Not only does this save time when term begins but it also saves a lot of stress and time-wasting!

In this article I’d like to share some tips and resources to help minimise the back to school stress for both you and your children.


Here are 12 tips to help you simplify going back to school and create a stress-free school routine that supports you and your children.

1. Establish a morning routine

A morning routine that supports you for the day ahead is helpful at all times, but particularly when you’re preparing for back to school. Getting into a simple school run morning routine which starts first thing in the morning is a great way of setting yourself and your kids up for a positive, calm and stress-free day.

Think about what you need to do in the mornings to get yourself and your children ready. This will depend, of course, on how old they are and what level of ability and independence they have. Younger children will inevitably need more help and input from you so time for yourself will be less than if they’re able to get themselves ready without needing you.

Think about creating a simple chore chart so they can follow it through and repeat it every day. Doing the same things in the same order will help your kids get used to what needs to be done and when. Many kids and adults work best with a flexible routine or rhythm to the day.

Don’t forget to allow plenty of time for everything that needs to be done. Work backwards with timings so you can work out what time your kids and you will have to wake up and then get up.

Here are some more tips on establishing a school morning routine:

2. Create an evening routine

Knowing what to include in your morning routine is a great start, but the real trick to making mornings easier is actually more to do with what you include in your evening routine.

The more you can prepare and get organised the night before will mean less to do, think and stress about in the mornings. This is even more important if your children are little and require help from you to get ready in the mornings. There’s a limit to how many things you can multi-task each morning without feeling frazzled and playing catch-up for the rest of the day!

Think about:

  • Preparing packed lunches and keeping them in the fridge
  • Packing bags
  • Laying out uniform and clothes
  • Shower and wash
  • Making sure all homework is done
  • Sign all permission letters and check communication from the school

Read this article on how to create an evening routine that works for you for some more helpful tips.

3. Meal-plan

Planning meals saves so much time, stress, indecision and energy.

Make a list of all the meals you need to make for the coming week including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and packed lunches. Who will be in each evening to eat dinner, does it need to be quick to fit around after school activities? Maybe even sandwiches to eat in the car en route to an activity?

Make your meal plan, sticking to simple, familiar recipes if you need to when time is tight and your kids are hungry after school. You can always be a little more ambitious at the weekends if you want to be.

Try this article on meal-planning made simple. There’s a free printable template you can download to help you plan your meals for the week ahead.

You might also like this article with simple tips for healthy eating so you can bulk-make food and keep it in the freezer for when time (or your energy levels) are a bit tight!

4. Do the laundry regularly

Keep on top of the dirty washing with a regular laundry routine. My kids go through uniform during the week really quickly. Little kids especially will get grass stains and pen marks on, probably most if not every day.

Don’t let the laundry get on top of you so you have to spend your precious weekends catching up on multiple loads. Like any other housework, little and often is a great rule to stick by.

Here are some tips for simple household routines to run your home with minimal stress.

5. Get uniform ready

Don’t leave checking, buying and replacing new uniform until the end of the holidays. Start early so you can make sure you’ve got what you need in plenty of time, even if the shops have run out of stock.

Lay out uniform and clothes the night before, or spend a little time at the weekend making separate bundles for Monday – Friday. Put them in clearly labelled storage in your child’s wardrobe.

Don’t leave it until the morning to realise you haven’t got a clean shirt, dress or P.E. kit!

6. Discuss expectations and establish rules

Many of us lose a little structure in the holidays and routines can be more flexible. In preparation for back to school, it’s helpful to discuss expectations and rules with your family so your kids (and you adults) have some ground rules. This could include:

  • When homework will be done
  • How much screen time is allowed
  • How many after school activities your kids can each take part in
  • How many playdates per week or term
  • How toys will be cleared away before meal or bed time
  • How bedrooms will be tidy and clear
  • When bath time will be
  • When bed time will be
  • What time your kids need to wake up and get up

Can you think of any other rules or routines you expect your kids and family to take part in?

It might also be helpful to chat through with your children about their expectations of school.

Are they nervous or excited? Will they know other children, who’s in their current friendship group? Do they have any particular concerns? Is there anything you need to make the school aware of? Are your kids going back to their existing familiar school or starting at a new school or moving up?

Chat with your kids so you can understand how they’re feeling and what support they might need from you. Keep chatting regularly so they’re comfortable sharing their feelings and opening up to you.

How to simplify back to school

7. Set up a desk/school area

Do your kids have a desk in their bedroom or will they be doing homework in the kitchen or main area of your home? Can they do their homework unaided or will you need to help and/or keep an eye on them? Does it need to be a peaceful and quiet environment so they can concentrate and focus? Will it need to be away from the TV and other distractions?!

Decide where your children are going to do their homework and set it up with whatever supplies and storage they’ll need.

8. Use Sunday to plan for the week ahead

Sunday is a great day to look to the week ahead. Assess your schedule, who’s doing what, what appointments and activities are planned. Are there any birthdays or special events you need to buy things for?

Try this article on how to use Sunday to plan for a productive (and stress-free) week ahead.

9. Organise stationery

Do a stock-take of what stationery and school supplies you need. Paper, pens, glue etc. Think also about water bottles, bags, pencil cases and anything else whilst you’re at it. Make a list and tick it off as you work through it.

Think about how you’re going to organise stationery and craft supplies at home. Does it need to be easily accessible by your children? And easy for them to find things and keep neat and tidy. Use storage solutions, labels and containers to make it simpler for them to put things back when they’ve finished using them.

Stationery, art and craft supplies can easily make your home look cluttered if you don’t give some prior thought to how and where you’re going to store them.

10. Ease back into your schedule

As I mentioned earlier, we can all get into holiday mode and enjoy a more flexible routine and days. Whilst this is really lovely, it does make it all the more difficult to get back into a stricter, more rigid school routine.

One way to get round this is to ease back into your school routine and schedule slowly. The week before your kids go back to school try to return to normal evening, bed, wake up and morning routines. Do it in small increments, 15 minutes earlier to bed, 15 minutes earlier to wake up, until you’ve got to the timings that suit you. It’s no good you all going to bed hours later than normal in the holidays and then suddenly have to be up and out of bed at 6am for that first day back at school!

You can also ease back into the school routine gently in other ways. Postpone any playdates or after school activities and appointments for the first couple of weeks of term, or more, until you’re more into the swing of the school day and weekly routine.

Too much, too soon might be a shock to the system for all of you!

11. Assess after school activities

It’s easy to get drawn into saying yes to every opportunity for classes and after school activities. So that I wasn’t a 24/7 taxi service, and to ensure we all had plenty of free time, we made a rule of one activity per term per child. This gave my kids the opportunity to try things out and if they wanted to swap after a term to doing something else then that was fine.

Reassess things regularly and find what works for you!

12. Keep a shopping list

I mentioned this earlier but it’s worth mentioning again! Keep an ongoing shopping list of everything you need to buy for back to school. Refer to it whenever you’re doing online shopping or going out to run errands. Add to and update it regularly whenever you buy something, run out or run low of stock or remember that you need something. You could also make use of Amazon’s wish list feature and set up repeat purchasing.

If you’re anything like me, it’s no good relying on my brain to remember things like this!

How to simplify back to school


Preparing for back to school can make the transition from holiday to school much easier for you and your children. You can focus on creating a school routine that works for you and your family and still find plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying home time. Planning and organisation are the key to simplifying and preparing for back to school!

You might enjoy this list of things to do in September to help you plan a little more!


Let me know if you have any other ideas to share on how to simplify back to school stress. What works for you? What do you find most stressful and what solutions have you found to make the school routine easier for you and your kids? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment below!

Hazel Avery

Friday 21st of July 2023

Back to school time is always exciting -- and stressful. Getting my home ready for it is critical to my mental health though. A fresh carpet cleaning really goes a long way. Thanks for your article. It helps me get excited for the upcoming school year.

Balance Through Simplicity

Friday 28th of July 2023

Hi Hazel, Yes I agree. I'm glad you found the article helpful!