1. The night before is key
When my children are in the bath I get all of their uniform out ready and pop it on top of their drawers. I make sure their polo shirt buttons are undone and everything is the right way around. My children now get their uniform on themselves as soon as they get out of bed which is great. I make sure a hairbrush and bobbles are on top of my daughter's pile too so no more searching in the morning.
2. Keep one diary and one fridge planner and use them
It is important to only use one diary for everything - that way you consistently look at it so are less likely to miss something. As soon as newsletters arrive home containing important dates make sure you transfer them over to your diary straight away. Include all the information you need for example if it is non-school uniform day and children need to donate £1 - make sure you write this in! Otherwise when the day comes you'll be frantically texting other mums en-route to school asking how much you need to take in.
I have a weekly tear-off fridge planner (a bit like this one from paperchase) that I complete at the start of every week - I write our meal plans, important school dates and any other important information for the week on there and stick it to our fridge door. This means that the whole family can look anytime they want (and hubby has no excuse for turning up late to collect kids from after-school club).
We have three children at the same school so end up with 3 x copies of everything. Spare copies go straight in the recycle bin and one copy of each letter is pinned to our kids' notice board in the conservatory along with their certificates and art work. This original letter can be referred to whenever needed. I clear this board every 2 months (or when it gets so full that I can't pin anything else to it).
3. Empty school bags every night
This is SO important. Children will rarely tell you if they have a letter, award, homework or even an invitation in their bag. Make sure you fully empty their bag every night, act on any letters/invites straight away and complete permission slips/forms and place back in their bag immediately before they have a chance to get lost. This way, there will be no shock revelations en-route to school.
4. Get shoes, hats and coats ready in advance
It seems simple but I have wasted lots of time searching for gloves, coats and especially school shoes every morning - now the children's coats go on the back of their chairs at the dining table before we go to bed with their hats and gloves in their pockets and their shoes are lined up neatly by the door.
5. Start a school fund jar
Sending children to school is an expensive business - £1 here and there for non-uniform days or cake sales, book money, trip money, sponsorships.....it all adds up and it always seems to be the week when you can least afford it that these letters asking for money grace your children's book bag. I now have a 'school fund' jar and save 50p per child per week which equates to £26 per child per year. This is usually more than enough to cover the cost of these extras and it is one less thing for me to worry about. Just make sure if you need to dip into it at any point you replace the money you've taken asap.
Do you have any tips to ensure we escape school run hell in 2016?