By Vicki Little
As sad as it is to see summer coming to an end, we often feel a collective sigh of relief as a sense of order returns to the house once more. Hopefully. If you aren’t prepared for the sudden, hectic schedules, you can start on a downward slide to chaos before the first week is even over. Before the final days of summer hit, take time to get your kids and house organized with the following tips so that the new school year is smooth sailing.
1) Get the kids “school-ready”: Grab a folder for each child and get down to business gathering and filling out all forms required for back to school. Many schools have checklists you can print out, and some even let you fill out forms online. It’s also important to have kids get back into their school-time sleep schedule at least a week before school starts. This way, they won’t be exhausted and cranky the first two weeks of school. Also don’t forget to:
- Register for before/after care
- Touch base with carpool
- Buy school supplies, clothes, shoes, backpacks, and lunchboxes (great time to get new socks and underwear, too)
- Stock up on favorite lunch-box fillers and after-school snacks
2) Put all important dates on the family calendar: By now, most schools have their calendars posted online, so it is the perfect time to put all those important dates on the calendar. Also include any sports practices, religious events, family days, doctor’s appointments, and vacations. You also may want to use this time of year to schedule those annual check-ups. There are some great family management calendars online, such as Cozi, Famjama, and Family Wall.
3) Get a family control center set up: Find a central location in your house that everyone will see. This is where you should keep all important papers and notes. Each child should have a place to keep papers they will need for school — a basket, bulletin board, or whatever works. You also may want to include a spot where you can write one another notes, a spot for your calendar (if you have an online one, print it up monthly or weekly), envelopes for the kids to grab lunch money or teacher notes, and a list of important numbers.
4) Clean out closets: Just like you should do with your own closet every year, go through your kids’ closets and pull out clothes that they have outgrown, that you would be embarrassed for them to wear, or that they just don’t plain don’t like or haven’t worn. It is a good time to go through their drawers and shoes, too. While you’re at it, why not get some new toothbrushes and go through the hair accessories to get rid of anything broken or gross.
5) Clear off a homework spot and set up a supply bucket: Typically it is recommended to have your children do their homework in the same spot every day to keep them focused, in a routine, and free from distractions. It is even better if that particular spot has all of the supplies they need so they don’t need to search around. One way to do this is to get a “homework supply bucket” that includes pencils, a sharpener, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue, a ruler, a timer to track reading time, and any other homework supplies. This way, the bucket can be put away after homework is finished.
6) Create an “easy lunch-packing” spot: One of the best things you can do to make mornings smoother is to pack lunches the night before. Designate an area for making lunches and store lunch supplies nearby. Put a few containers in the pantry stocked with favorites, such as fruit cups, granola bars, crackers, etc. Find a similar spot in the fridge for cold items. Then all you need do to is grab lunch items from each spot. Also, your kids will be able to pack their own lunches because it will be so easy! For fun, if you are a “lunchbox note” parent, try a simple Google search for “printable lunch box notes.” You will find a ton of great printables including jokes and sweet sayings. Then you can just grab one, jot down something personal, and slide it right into the lunch bags.
7) Develop a system for papers that come home: It can be overwhelming, especially if your child is younger and they still bring home a lot of artwork each day. For papers that need immediate attention, they should go to the family control center. For those that you may want to keep, put them in a container so that at the end of the year, you can take a picture of them for a special “my year at school” book, and then keep your absolute favorites for their memory bucket.
Do you have a favorite “Back-To-School” organization tip?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two children. A Colorado native, she spends her time writing, sitting in the bleachers for her daughter’s gymnastics, and engaging in spirited debates with her son. In her free time…well, she is still waiting for some of that.
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