Although the return of the school year solidifies the conclusion of Summer, many families look forward to the return of the school year routine. But within the structure of a schedule, it can be stressful trying to keep up with the demands of what going back to school means for the family. By now you might have done some clothes and supplies shopping, hopefully under budget! Now we want to share some suggestions for keeping disorganization to a minimum all year long.
The first step that’s helpful is to start with organized bedrooms. Clear closets and drawers of the kids’ outgrown or seldom worn clothes to make space for anything new. If a younger sibling is taking ownership of hand-me-downs, make sure the older child knows what’s no longer his or hers. That will alleviate arguments over who’s wearing what on a hectic weekday morning in the future.
Create outfits ahead of time. This is a big time-saver on school days if you have younger children who are slow to get ready in the mornings, or if they claim they “can’t find anything to wear!” Make it a Sunday evening ritual to choose outfits for every day of the week ahead, including socks. Consult the forecast if weather is a determining factor.
Most parents these days use digital calendars to keep track of events and appointments. That’s great for on the go if you need to respond to an invitation or consult your agenda while you’re at work. But it’s still a good idea to keep all members of the family on the same page with a visual calendar at home. Whether it’s a dry-erase board or a traditional wall calendar, noting who’s where and when is a great way to stay on task, as well as provide parents and kids a way to see the schedule quickly. A basket nearby for school notices, permission slips, newsletters, and other paperwork will help keep all relevant information together.
Create a designated “drop zone.” Inevitably, kids come home and clutter your entryway or other rooms with randomly discarded shoes, jackets, backpacks, and sports gear. Wait until winter arrives when stray mittens and hats are added to the pile. Make a rule — and issue regular reminders! — that all of those things belong in the drop zone, not all over the house. Some families install hooks for their kids on a wall or in a hall closet or a child-sized coat rack in a corner to hang jackets and backpacks will do the trick. A boot tray or bin for shoes will at least keep them all contained to one space. Ask your kids to clean out their lunch boxes every afternoon and place them in the kitchen ready for the next day.
Use drawers or shelves in fridge for kid-friendly snacks. Whether it’s for packing lunches, for after school, or to take to practice, you’ll be able to quickly grab what you need or allow your children to help themselves.
Make homework time more focused with a clear space at the kitchen table, in a home office or at a bedroom desk. Avoid searches for things like sharpened pencils or pens, glue sticks, scissors, and other supplies by storing them in a place the kids can find and access easily. Hanging a shoe organizer with pockets over a door works well for this. On a related note, be prepared for last minute school projects by stocking up on some of those common items you might need: markers, poster board, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, glue gun. . . . You’ll be happy to save yourself a night-before-it’s-due trip to the store.
It won’t be long before school work comes home, and you won’t know what to do with it. If you’re not ready to toss it, or the paragraph your child wrote about her summer vacation is just too cute to part with, purchase some storage containers or a big folder for artwork and assignments you want to hold on to for memory’s sake.
The school year is often when you’ll start collecting items that belong to other children, whether they’ve been left at your house by mistake or your own kids borrowed them at one time or another. A “borrowed basket” is a great idea for those things to go as a reminder to return them. It’ll help keep other people’s belongings from getting lost in the shuffle. Put library books in the basket, too, so you don’t forget to bring them back on time.
Meal planning is on just about every list you’ll read about home organization and stress reduction, and we can’t help but include it here because it CAN work. Just like the clothing tip above, getting in the habit of taking a few minutes during the weekend to decide on meals for the week can save time and effort later. Simple menus are fine, but at least you can make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and avoid indecision on a busy evening when you have little energy to spare.
Interested in seeing the custom features we offer in our homes that can help keep yours organized? Visit our Design Center to learn more. Until then, we wish you a happy, successful school year!