5 Ways to Stay Organized for Back-to-School
Looking to keep your family organized this school year? Try following these tips.
September is around the corner, which has me wondering where the summer went! It’s hard to believe that the lazy days of summer will be gone soon and that kids will soon be going back to school.
Many parents applaud back to school time, but not me. I will miss my kids and dread the upcoming chaos—I say chaos because with back to school comes busy schedules and an avalanche of stuff to be organized—backpacks and lunch bags, binders and pencils, school notices, permission slips and kids’ homework and artwork.
I’ve been busy the past few months getting my home organized for the new school year, so I will be able to handle the organizational strain that the school year will put on my family. If you’re looking to keep your family organized this school year, try following these tips.
Organized Drop It Spot
To maintain an organized home this school year, try creating a designated “drop it” spot for kids’ backpacks, jackets and shoes. When my family gets home, they tend to shed the trappings of their day here and there – a shoe here, a backpack there, a sock over there. To combat this, I’ve created a small mudroom area in my home’s front entry area. There are bins to corral shoes and socks, plus wall hooks to hold coats and backpacks. I also added a homemade dry erase board for reminder messages and a clock to help keep us on schedule!
I have also set up a second mudroom area in my home’s garage with the hopes that on rainy and snowy days, my family and I will start entering our home straight from the garage or from our garage’s side door instead – doing so will make it easier to keep the entry hall clean.
When my kids come home from school, they usually dump the contents of their book bags on the living room floor to show me everything they’ve done that day. I love to see all the work my children have done in school, but I don’t like it all over the floor!
To help organize school papers, each year I set aside a regular cardboard box for each kid. When they give me their graded homework and completed artwork, I put it into their boxes. As the school year goes on, I sort through the papers and pare it down, just keeping the best items. Eventually, I’d like to scrapbook their work into scrapbooks to give them when they are older.
Another thing I do is frame their best pieces of art – I have several of their drawings and paintings framed in the kitchen, and some hanging on our front door! The other pieces of artwork go into each child’s box, to be sorted or saved in a scrapbook, later.
Another way to keep school papers under control is to create a command center, because you will need a designated spot to keep and post school announcements, calendars, permission slips that need to be signed, etc
A family command center doesn’t have to be elaborate -- it should just be a place where you can post a calendar, hang reminder notes and flyers from your children’s schools, etc.
For this school year, I plan to turn the inside of my home’s coat closet door into a command center by hanging a large corkboard on the door. On that corkboard, I will pin monthly calendars, reminder notices, etc. Having the corkboard will be a great improvement for my family – that kind of stuff usually lands either on the kitchen table or on the pool table that we have in my home’s family room, creating quite a mess!
It’s important to have a designated study spot for your kids. I tried having my children study upstairs at a big desk that I had set up in our upstairs hallway for them, but they eventually returned to doing their homework at the kitchen table, since they like to be where I am. So now, I keep the supplies that they need for their homework (pencils, erasers, paper, etc.) in a small bookcase that sits next to our kitchen table. It’s important for kids to have a set spot where they can do their homework (one not by the TV), so they have the quiet and supplies they need to get the homework done right. When it comes time to read, though, my children like to use the study/hangout spot that I created for them in our upstairs hallway. In the space are two beanbag chairs and a bookcase to hold my children’s books.
Build Time Into the Morning Routine
When my kids get ready to school in the morning, I often find that it takes them longer than I expect for them to get dressed and eat breakfast – which caused some problems when they started school in kindergarten. But now, with a few school years under my belt, I have my kids get up 10 to 15 minutes earlier than I think they have to, so we have some extra minutes to work with should anything go wrong. I’ve also hung a clock by the front door so I can keep an eye on the time as they get their shoes on and gather their backpacks for the day – for some reason, the last step of getting out the door always takes the longest! In the entry hall, I also a free-standing shelving unit that holds bins for everyone’s shoes, plus a mirror for any last-minute touchups!
With all these organizational measures in place, I am hoping the upcoming school year will be an organized, productive and fun year!