Hard to believe that I’m starting to be asked to write about back to school tips already but I guess all you parents out there will begin to make plans for this very thing in a few weeks – yikes! I can so remember the excitement and dread in mid August.
The dread that summer would soon be over and the excitement of going back to school. One of my favourite parts, like you didn’t know already, was going shopping for all the supplies. Yes, I admit it, I was so into all the notebooks matching, having brand new pencils all sharpened and ready to go, and organizing my pencil case. Like many of my fellow organizers, I still have an addiction to shopping at office supply stores!
Now is the time to get yourself and your house organized for the coming months and the onslaught of school papers, homework projects and sports schedules. Here are a few areas in your home that you may want to take a look at:
The Entrance/Mudroom – it is a great idea to use lockers, one for each child, and to have a designated hook or basket for each item including a hook for backpacks and jackets plus a shelf for shoes and a basket for hats, mittens, etc.
Set up a Family Message Center near the main entrance – hang a couple of baskets on the wall for “Bills” and “Mail”. Hang two corkboards – one for a large family calendar and one for to-do lists, school reminders, and phone messages. Put out one homework in-basket for each child on the counter under the corkboards with a label that says “Sam’s Homework”, “Jane’s Homework”. This is also a great place to hang the keys.
Homework – for younger children the homework area is usually in the kitchen/family room so you can keep an eye on them. It is important to designate a homework “zone” and to set up storage for all the tools they will need – plastic drawer organizers on wheels under the counter are great – make sure to label the drawers with pictures or words. For older children they will usually have a homework “zone” in their bedroom. Again proper storage and all the tools at hand are crucial – baskets and bins work well as long as they are labeled.
Clothes and Toys – give away the clothes that don’t fit and the toys they no longer play with – purge, purge, purge. Design and install a child-friendly closet system that can be adjusted as your child grows. If you have a big enough closet space it can sometimes hold clothes, toys and books. You can often eliminate dressers by installing drawers in the closet perhaps giving you room for a desk in the bedroom.
- Create a schedule to do the same thing at the same time every week, i.e. laundry, grocery shopping, etc.
- Plan Ahead – i.e. establish morning routines for the children, prepack lunches, plan meals for the week
- Set up a hanging organizer in the closet with Mon.-Fri. and a spot for shoes and lay out the clothes for the week for your child
Be sure to involve your child in the organizing process. Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and ask them how they would like to organize their things. Be careful not to arrange your child’s things the way you want to or think it should be done. You’ll be surprised at the ideas school age children will come up with for keeping themselves and their belongings organized.
For more great information on your children for school pick up a copy of Donna Goldberg’s book “The Organized Student”.