Getting ready for the school year is about more than just buying school supplies and waiting to find out who our children’s teachers are. It’s also about establishing routines with your family-- and systems in your home-- that promote good habits for learning and set the family up for success.
First, my philosophy on getting organized: it can start by making one decision. And then you can make another decision, and another, and another, and keep building upon them. After all, clutter is just deferred decisions. You can change your decisions along the way, but if you don’t make one to start, you are left in limbo.
With all this in mind, here are a few tips on how to get organized for going back to school:
1. Establish a Command Center which will serve as your inbox/outbox and processing station. This is for school forms, permission slips, artwork, incoming mail, invitations, etc. A place is needed in the house where everyone knows to put things so that they will be processed and taken care of.
This can be the desk in your home, vertical files on your countertop, or a series of pockets on the wall next to a big family calendar.
Once you have the physical set-up, make sure to set a regular time to go through the Command Center items everyday or as infrequently as once a week. You can start by setting a timer for just 10 minutes.
2. Create homework area(s) for your kid(s). A clear workspace and reachable supplies are key. If your child tends to move from one spot to another for a change of scenery, create a mobile homework station by putting supplies in small containers and keeping them on a tray.
3. Create a display area for artwork and other projects. This is a category of “stuff” that often clutters countertops because we don’t know where to put them or how long to keep them. Involve your kids in picking a wall, hallway, fridge, or bulletin board so their work can be rotated throughout the school year.
Do you have lots of artwork from years past that is taking up too much room? Try making a photo book for each kid by school year on Shutterfly.com, or hire a company to do it for you: artkiveapp.com
4. Designate a spot for backpacks, shoes, and after-school activity gear. Once everything has a home, there is no debate as to where it should go at the end of the day and where to find it during the morning rush.
And finally, be easy on yourself. Try to get a head start so it’s not a scramble on Labor Day Weekend. And even then, of course, things won’t always go as planned. Mentally prepare yourself to be flexible, but firm. And when I say firm, I mean that you should give your systems a try even if you get a little push-back from your kid(s) at first. If something really isn’t working for your family, reassess and adjust.
Enjoy the rest of summer!
This blog is featured in Oliver's Nannies August Newsletter.