It’s that time again. The one that makes most kids cringe and some parents rejoice. Well, it makes prepared parents rejoice. For those of us who have been in a summer fog of vacations and staycations and swim days and play dates, the start of the school year has crept up, leaving us in a hurry to get three months of stuff done in a precious few days or weeks before the starting bell. Getting everything organized will not only help ease your children into the new school year, but you as well!

These five steps will help.

1. Save big by knowing when to shop

With school starting up this month, sales on everything from pencils to paper to backpacks are rampant. Be sure to check online for the best prices and take advantage of limited-time offers the big-box retailers like Office Depot and Target are offering. August is also the best time to buy back-to-school clothes and shoes, according to deal-hunting site Ben’s Bargains, who says that prices are “about 18 percent lower for clothes and approximately 30 percent lower for shoes than prices in September and October.

Other back-to-school tips from Ben’s Bargains:

• Wait until mid to late September to buy mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and e-Readers

• If you need a laptop, you can save “nearly 10 percent over prices in July and August” in early October

2. Reinstitute a schedule

Going from the sleep-ins of summer to the early alarm clock realities of the school year is not easy for anyone. Getting back on a schedule before the first day of school is the first step. The next is making sure you re-up on all the daily and nightly regimens that may have become relaxed since school got out last year. Here’s how to make a painless transition for kids (and you!):

• Restart evening bathtime for a relaxing send-off to bed

• Reintroduce good bedtime habits like reading time or quiet time

• Make picking out the following day’s outfit a fun Mom (or Dad) + kid experience

• Take a look at your child’s school website, and refamiliarize yourself with bell times, upcoming holidays (Labor Day sneaks up on everyone!), and school policies

• Review online school menus if available, which can open up a conversation about good eating habits with your kids

3. Get organized

Between homework and all the other papers that are going to start coming home, your house is about to be inundated. Deciding where to put it all—and where to put those who will be working on the homework—is key to keeping it all straight. And keeping your sanity.

When it comes to homework, experts recommend a designated space, which can help kids to feel more in control and lead to good study habits. But that can be any number of settings, said Great Schools.

“It doesn’t have to be a desk. “A kitchen counter is a great place, especially if mom’s in the kitchen cooking.” Wherever the study area is, it should be large enough to accommodate books, papers, and notebooks, and “good lighting and a sturdy chair that’s the right height available” are important. Check out some great study areas here.

Just as important as having a great study area is having an efficient area for paperwork. Studies show that organizational skills are critical to school success, and when the papers start piling up, a dedicated spot will help you keep it all in check. Look at Good Housekeeping’s idea for organizing papers per class.

4. Write it down

If you don’t have a white board, a wipe-off calendar, or a chalkboard in a common area of your home, it might be time to consider one. Summer is a time for relaxation. The school year is a time for carpools and choir and football practice and early release days. Mark them all down and everyone will be able to get their activities straight.

Create the ultimate school calendar by:

• Placing it in a high-traffic area where everyone in the family can see it

• Using different colors for different kids or events for an easy read

• Including sports, extracurricular and after-school activities

• Adding carpool information, school events, and childcare schedules

• Referencing the official school year calendar to transfer holidays and other school closures,  and

• And don’t forget teachers birthdays!

5. Think Healthy

Back-to-school time can also mean physicals and immunizations. If you’re not sure what your children might need, you can find your state’s requirements here. Also, if your child has a health condition that requires medication to be left on school campus. Don’t forget to set aside a supply and secure any necessary prescriptions.

A little attention to a few key organizational habits can go a long way in making the transition for summer fun to successful school year.

Do you have any ideas for getting organized for the start of the school year?  Let us know in the comments below!