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10 Back-to-School Hacks Every Parent Needs to Know

These creative back-to-school hacks will save time, money and your sanity during the busy school year.

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Old vintage retro classic kitchen timer.55Ohms/Shutterstock

Motivate Your Kids to Study With a Kitchen Timer

Do your kids get overwhelmed or grumpy at the thought of doing homework? Encourage them with a kitchen timer! They can take a big bite out of their workload with just 15 minutes, and a timer allows them to see that the finish line is in sight. They’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish when they fully focus for just a short amount of time. These sweet (and surprisingly healthy!) treats are another great way to reward a job well done.

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Homemade ice packCourtesy Live Simply

Keep Lunch Cool With a DIY Ice Pack

No one wants a warm turkey sandwich; keep lunch nice and cold with an ice pack. But instead of buying the store-bought version, we love this hack from Live Simply to make your own ice pack with a kitchen sponge. Simply dip the sponge in water, seal it in a plastic bag and freeze. Speaking of sponges, you should definitely be cleaning yours. Here’s the gross reason why.

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Canned food organizerCourtesy I Dig Pinterest

Create a Canned Food Organizer

Keep homework supplies organized and looking cute with this DIY desk organizer made from tin cans. Wash and remove the labels of a few empty food cans. Then cover the cans in fabric or paint like this idea from I Dig Pinterest. When dry, assemble the cans into a pyramid shape and secure with hot glue. In need of more organizational supplies for the coming year? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the Walmart Back-to-School sale!

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Mini sandwiches cheese ham bread on skewers in the form of stars.Viktory Panchenko/Shutterstock

Build Adorable Sandwich Kabobs

Stick it to the traditional ham and cheese sandwich with these cute kabobs. Your kids will be delighted, and because the kabobs don’t require mayonnaise or mustard, you can make them ahead of time without worrying about soggy bread. Here are 28 more easy lunch box ideas for your kiddo.

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Snack bin in fridgeCourtesy Happy Money Saver

Pre-Pack Lunch Items

As your kids are rushing to catch the bus, packing their lunch can be a real time-eater. And unfortunately, store-bought snack packs with individually wrapped chips or crackers are super expensive. Instead, try this hack from Happy Money Saver. Once a week chop and bag up fresh fruit, vegetables, crackers and any other lunch items all at once. Then, store the snacks in the fridge and pantry for quick access in the morning. With this method, even young kids can prepare their lunch themselves.

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Organic vegan make ahead smoothie bag ingredientssaltsole/Shutterstock

Whip Up Breakfast With DIY Smoothie Bags

Ever wonder what are the best life hacks for school mornings? Make your kiddos a healthy breakfast in seconds with a DIY smoothie bag.! Measure out the fruits and veggies ahead of time, then freeze them in individual bags. On those busy school mornings, all you have to do is dump a bag in the blender with a liquid of your choice. Make your own mix or try one of our favorite smoothie recipes.

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Cookie sheet chore chartCourtesy Craftaholics Anonymous

Make a Cookie Sheet Homework and Chore Chart

Keep track of homework assignments and other chores with a DIY chore chart like this one from Craftaholics Anonymous. Spray paint a metal baking sheet, and separate the columns of chores to do and chores that are done with washi tape. Your kids will love moving their cute chore magnets to the finished side. Having trouble with your kids cleaning up? Try this parent-approved trick.

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Dish rack homework stationCourtesy Raising Whasians

Organize Homework With a Dish Rack

If you don’t have a designated homework spot in your home, make a mobile one with this dish rack homework station. Kids can set this up on the dining room table, on their bedroom floor or on the couch. A dish rack with its different slots and components is perfect for keeping everything tidy, no matter where they plop down to do homework.

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Close up of a sliced red apple on a wooden table.Triple D Studio/Shutterstock

Keep Apple Slices From Turning Brown

An apple is the perfect nutritious snack for your child’s lunch, but how to keep the slices from turning brown? Try this trick. You slice the apple and then assemble it back together into a full apple. Hold the slices together tightly by wrapping it with a rubber band. When your child removes the rubber band at lunchtime, the slices will still look fresh and crisp. Here’s another great way to keep your already-sliced apples from browning.

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Cereal box organizerCourtesy One Good Thing By Jillee

Upcycle Your Cereal Boxes

An organized homework space is essential for your kids to be successful. Did you know you can keep their desk drawer nice and tidy with cereal boxes? We love this clever idea from One Good Thing By Jillee. Cut off the top of the boxes, then wrap each one in washi tape. Now there’s a place for pens, pencils, paper and more. And no more shouts of, “Mom, where’s the glue stick?!”

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.