Seriously The Ultimate Back to School Checklist


Hi Strong Mamas!

I’m in the thick of my back to school prep and after 17 years of hardcore mommy-ing I have a pretty good idea of what I need to get accomplished. I don’t have time to do a full-on blog post today, but I thought I would shoot this one out to you quickly to help you in your back to school whirlwind. Of course I wish the list was in a cute form or infographic, but who am I kidding? I’m in full-grind mode over here so this is the best I can give ya!

A lot of this list is personal to my family, but I think it will give you some good ideas. Enjoy and SHARE! And check out my Back to School and First Day of School Pinterest boards for tons of checklists and other great ideas.

The Mamastrong Ultimate Back to School Checklist

  • Schedule when you will pray and fast over the school year. Choose a devotional to help with this!
  • Schedule how you will celebrate yourself for having a great summer of mothering (or just surviving the onslaught of the summer days). Massage? Lunch with a friend? Solitude in your home?
  • Discuss with each child their joys and concerns for the school year. What are they looking forward to? What are they dreading?
  • Role play any possible sticky social situations (car rides are a good time to do this).
  • Pray with each child individually for their school year. Make much of God.
  • Go over summer work: where is everyone? Make a schedule for them to follow each day breaking down the work so they are not stressed but also finish on time.
  • Set and review goals for the school year with each child. I categorize the goals in 4 areas: social, intellectual/academic, physical and spiritual.
  • Go over prayer strategies for the school year. Help them choose what they will use for their devotional time.
  • Complete all forms as early as possible. This usually takes me longer than I think it will.
  • Schedule annuals/physicals as early in summer as possible. Try to get in as many appointments as possible: eye doc, orthodontist, dentist, specialists, etc.
  • Clean all bedrooms: closets, bathrooms, drawers, under the beds, etc. (check out my Facebook post that was viewed by over 20,000 people on how to empower your kids to keep those rooms clean to your standards here).
  • Organize all bedrooms. School year is a fresh start.
  • Look around each room. What does it need for this new season of your kid’s life? A full length mirror? A small desk? Area to lift weights? Dress-up area/vanity for imaginative play? Book nook? I updated my daughters’ rooms to reflect their new design styles and seasons of life:



  • Check linens: does anyone need new sheets? Pillows? Comforters? Mattress covers?Towels? Washcloths?
  • BUDGET: evaluate and tighten up spending. Make sure you know how much you have to spend on supplies, etc. Talk to hubby, make sure you are on the same page.
  • Laundry Room: machines cleaned out and deodorized with white vinegar solution
  • All laundry done so that you can do the next step…
  • Go through all clothes. Especially check underwear AND SOCKS! Try on and schedule when you will take items to GoodWill. Do not let those bags stay in the hallway for 4 weeks!
  • Try on all uniforms: shorts, undershirts, leggings, PE uniforms, sweatshirts, sweaters, raincoats, etc.
  • Dry clean uniforms, slacks, shirts if it is in the budget.
  • Check school shoes. I schedule a separate day to get those if I can because I hate school shoe shopping.
  • Select first day of school outfit/uniform.
  • Clean out all backpacks and lunch boxes if not buying new. Wash with oxyclean, it does wonders!
  • Schedule a day to do the back to school shopping. Do not do anything else on this day! Order everything you can online! Stock up for the school year now while the prices are good.
  • Schedule hair cuts, deep conditioning, flat-ironing, etc.
  • Schedule your own hair appointment, manicure, pedicure, facial, etc.
  • Plan your meals, workouts, hydration, etc. Your schedule is about to make a seismic shift-plan the adjustments you need to make for you now.
  • Organize, label and pack all school supplies. If you can, deliver early to the school. It is a great way for the kids to get a preview which calms nerves and it is one less thing to think about on the first day of school, Parent Night, whatever. Remember: this is a busy time of year for you! Make it as streamlined as possible!
  • Entry Area/Mud Room (or wherever your kids first enter the house): organized and ready to receive them with cleared hooks, shelves, closets, bins, baskets, etc.
  • Clean out their in-boxes/mail boxes (this is where I keep all important papers for projects, etc. so they don’t get lost and also where I dump potential keepsake items we collect throughout the year)
  • Get the drop-zones cleaned out and ready to be used.
This great idea is from Ducks in a Row Organizing!


  • Keepsake papers filed away.
  • Prepare a Homework Bag for those days that homework must be done on the run. Check out my post on it here.

Homework Backpack!

  • Homework Areas: homework board ready, homework forms complete, bureau stocked with supplies, desks in bedrooms stocked with a few supplies, homework caddies ready to go (check out my post on that here).

Homework Strategies

Mamastrong Homework Supply Center: an old dresser I painted.


  • Are your computers and printers working properly? Are the teens’ laptops okay? Do you have enough ink? Printer paper? Check all tech and make sure it is operating smoothly.
  • Teens clean out their desks and organize them.
  • “Are You Ready for Tomorrow?” forms and board up and ready to go.
  • Email accounts organized and ready to receive a million new emails: unsubscribe from unwanted subscriptions, mailboxes cleaned out, junk mail handled, etc.
  • Clean out junk drawer in kitchen.
  • Write your emails to teachers regarding the kids’ learning differences and styles. Introduce yourself and your family. Schedule meetings. Send educational/psych testing well ahead of time so they have time to review before you meet. Prepare your notes. Pray.
  • Organize and clean out your closet. You are about to hit overdrive with busy mornings and pouring out emotionally, physically and spiritually. Make sure your closet is ready.
  • Replenish lunch/school accounts.
  • Check to make sure all mouth guards for sports still fit.
  • Check to make sure all athletic gear needs are in good working order, fit, etc.
  • Evaluate all necessary medications for the kids (schedule appt. with doc to review)
  • Re-stock all vitamins, allergy meds, Epi-pens, pro-biotics, fish pills, cough drops, Tums, Benadryl, Motrin, etc.
  • Fill the school medication bags for the kids that need them.
  • Input all calendar dates into family calendar.
  • Schedule sitters for date night, mom’s night out, and your rest time for the school year NOW!
  • Schedule all specials: tutors, speech therapy, occupational therapy, music lessons, art classes, etc.
  • Review emergency protocols with the kids. Who can they go home with? Are their any people they should stay away from? Trouble shoot and role-play some scenarios so they know what to do but also HOW TO FEEL. Teach them how to be unafraid.
  • Review nutritional needs of each child. Briefly go over nutrition with the kids (what they should avoid at school and why, no sharing food, remind them of their food allergies, etc.)
  • What system will you be using to handle lunches? Check out my lunch deck system here, it’s awesome!
  • Plan dinners for the next few weeks with your favorite menu planning system. You can check out the one I designed here.
  • Grocery shop for items on lunch decks/ menus to pack in lunches.
  • All morning, after school, evening and chore charts refreshed, posted and ready to go in bedrooms and kitchen. Here’s an example of one I used last year:

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.47.20 AM

  • Review morning, after school and bed time routines with kids.
  • Begin a relaxing bedtime routine for the kids. Some ideas: reading, showers, prayer, sleep sound machines (check out the one we use here), sleep CD’s, lavender spray, lower wattage bulbs by beds.
  • Begin waking up 15 minutes earlier each morning. Schedule when you need to begin this. Is everyone’s alarm clock working?
  • Review technology rules for school year now that computers are a big part of our lives again. Review parental controls.
  • Make sure all planner supplies are stocked: stickers, pens, post-its, etc.
One of my planning days! I love my Erin Condren planner and Frixion erasable pens!!!
  • Make sure all of your desk supplies are stocked up, too!


  • Do you have a control center? Now is a great time to put one together or replenish what you have.
Pottery Barn has great ideas for this
All the elements of a great Control Center from Lemon Lime Adventures
  • Playroom/Kids’ Lounge organized and ready to be a place of rest and respite for the kids.
  • If the budget allows, get the car detailed.
  • Stock up on any supplies you will need for the car such as hand sanitizer, tissues, books, chapstick, educational videos, etc.
  • Schedule those last summer playdates, pool times, trips to an amusement park, etc. Try to end summer with a bang!
  • Plan any surprises like a special first day of school morning breakfast or family dinner
  • Make sure camera is charged for last days of summer/first day of school pics. Are you doing anything special? Get all materials together.
  • Have a great transition back to school!

Check out my Etsy page if you want to purchase this entire list in a cute little form for just $5!

Enjoy your Back to School prep mamas! Share this post!

Love, DJ (1)



7 thoughts on “Seriously The Ultimate Back to School Checklist

  1. At first, I did not want to read this post because it reminded me that school is coming, which (being a summer-lover) I revile as much as John Snow dreads, “Winter is coming.” Then, I started reading this post and thought, oh no, so much to do. Finally, I realized that failing to plan is planning to fail. Thank you, D.J., for breaking things down with enough advance notice so that there is still time form everything to get done. Our family’s specific needs are different from yours, but the list and general outline is applicable to everybody!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And remember that this is just how I handle Back to School. I process life best if I flow in it seasonally. Each season is a reset for me. This list is exhaustive as a gift, kind of like a buffet. You just pick and choose what looks good. My prayer is you got some new ideas that will make life EASIER, not add tasks! Love you girl!


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