Although the summer seems to have just got out of the starting gate, it’s already time for back to school season. School supplies call to you from the aisles of most retailers, advertisements show kids’ clothes and uniforms, and you’re reminded of the chaos of last year. All too often your son called you at work because he forgot his essay he needed to turn in that day, or your daughter didn’t tell you until 9 p.m. the night before that she needed clean gym clothes. And you don’t even want to remember those chaotic mornings trying to make lunches with odds and ends, or kids who sleep until the last possible moment and then rush through the house mowing down everyone in their path.
One word holds the key to a more serene morning, organization. Here are nine helpful ideas that will wipe out the pandemonium and make everyone’s day run smoother.
1. Get Rid of Clutter
Clean and donate or throw out what you don’t need and don’t use so you can begin with a clean slate. Not only does clearing the clutter help with organizing, but it also mentally prepares everyone in the family for the next season, the beginning of school.
2. Designate a Homework Area
Find a quiet space where you can place a desk and chair along with the most commonly-used school supplies so that your child has a specific place to work on assignments. This personal space helps keep him or her on track all year.
3. Give Each Child a File Box
The box should have dividers or slots so the student can have a section for each class. Here they can organize papers, reference materials or anything else they need to keep without having to cart back and forth in their backpacks.
4. Allocate a Gathering Place
To avoid the last-minute morning turmoil, assign each child a specific location where they gather everything they need for school the night before. Backpacks, homework, gym clothes, signed permission slips, and the like should all be kept here.
5. Inventory Clothing
Get rid of outgrown and worn clothing before setting out on a school clothes shopping excursion. Children should help with this. After the closet has been pared down, make a list of what each child needs and watch for sales.
6. Choose Outfits for a Week
Beginning the first week of school, decide what each child will wear for each of the five school days ahead. Install five hooks or pegs on a wall of the child’s bedroom to hang each outfit on.
7. Take Stock of School Supplies
Print out the school supply lists provided by your child’s school (usually on the school’s website). Check off what you already have and purchase what’s missing. Purchase in bulk if the item will be used throughout the year. Go in on large-quantity purchases with other parents if that makes sense.
8. Hang a Large Calendar
That way everyone in the family can see what’s going on ahead of time. Soccer practice, violin concerts, ballet recitals and all other activities should be listed in black and white or in a color-coded system. Dry-erase calendars work well for this.
9. Organize Lunches and Snacks
Assign a shelf in the refrigerator and another in the pantry where you place some clear containers filled with the fixings for lunch. Do the same for healthy after-school snacks. By using clear containers what you need is easy to grab and you can see when you’re about to run out of something.