Summer’s not yet over but in many parts of the country the school year has already begun. Here are some tips to help you get the kids organized for the school year well before the homework starts piling up.
Get started by making space for the new stuff that you know will come in throughout the school year. Go through your children’s clothing and extra-curricular gear and purge anything they’ve outgrown. Donate what you can and replace only what your child needs for this coming season.
If you haven’t done so already, go through schoolwork, art projects and papers from the prior year and clear out anything that is no longer wanted or needed. Pick a few (yes, just a few!) favorites and store them in a labeled container. Make items easy to identify by writing your child’s name and age on the back. If you have more than one child, use a separate container for each child with enough space to add to each year. Better yet, go digital and scan or take photos of papers and projects.
Create a landing zone where you walk in the house with hooks for backpacks and jackets, space for shoes and equipment, and in/out bins or wall pockets for the flood of papers that need attention. This area could be an open space, or you can add some drawers or bins to an existing closet.
Have a dedicated space for the kids to do their homework. Keep it stocked with school supplies, so they won’t be interrupted by going to look for something.
Prepare for mornings the night before
Pack your bags (work, daycare, school) the night before to avoid a last minute scramble or worse, leaving the house without the essentials. Ten minutes in the evening can save you a world of trouble the next day.
Prepare meals and snacks to go the night before. Put non-perishables in lunch bags on the counter and gather any perishables in an easy-to-grab spot in the fridge. Put a sticky note on the front door to remind you to grab fridge items before you head out the door.
Lay out outfits as you fold and put away laundry. Use cubbies (a hanging clothing storage unit works great for this) to separate outfits for each day of the week. If your child doesn’t want to wear something on a certain day, there will be other outfits to choose from.
Prep, or at least decide what everyone’s having for breakfast the night before. Have grab and go items like yogurt smoothies, bagels or trail mix on hand for extra busy mornings.
Put what you can in the car the night before – think sports equipment, items to return, special projects. This will help avoid needing to make multiple trips back and forth in the morning because your hands are too full.
Get the kids involved
Most importantly – Get your kids involved in the process. Incorporate tasks into their daily routine. It can be as simple as adding a step to an existing process; such as putting their finished homework back in their bags or choosing and laying out their breakfast when they have an evening snack. It’s never too early to teach kids how to organize. Kids are full of ideas, so let them to participate in the organizing plan. When they have a say, they will be more likely to stick to it.
Kids love color, so use it in their organizing systems. Color-coded storage areas, drawers and other containers are a creative way of “labeling” your kid’s storage system. Let them choose their favorite colors.
A label on something makes it stick. Once a bin has a label that says “HOMEWORK” or a cubbie is labeled “SPORTS GEAR,” those become the official homes for those items. If school and activity supplies have labeled homes, there’s a much better chance everyone can find what they need, when they need it and maybe even put it away when they’re done. (We can hope, can’t we?).
Remember that being organized isn’t about having a picture perfect home; it’s about planning and having a routine. Especially with kids, organization is the key to a less stressful day. Follow these tips to get organized ahead of time and set your kids (and yourself!) up for a successful school year!
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And for more great organizing tips, visit OrganizingU.com