Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity to start fresh; looking your best, tidying up your living space, and creating fool-proof organizational systems for your home. This list of tips, pointers, and parental “life-hacks” are sure to leave your home working like a well-oiled machine!
Keep Yourself Organized
1. Plan, plan, plan! Calendars, especially white board calendars with room for your whole family’s schedules; are your best friend. Take full advantage of your calendars by jotting down all appointments, extracurricular activities, and important dates on the calendar.
2. If you've ever heard your parents, siblings, or spouse end their sentence with, “I told you that last week, don’t you remember?” and you don't remember... then you need a bulletin board. Big news, updates and bragging rights should all be found on a family bulletin board.
3. Post the daily routine. This will help your kids with their daily schedules and begin forming good habits. Use pictures or other illustrations for the younger ones.
4. Use sticky notes! How many times have you walked out the door and forgot something? Using sticky notes around the house for those often forgotten items could be the very habit that keeps you on task.
5. Put the kids to bed on time. Did you know young children need 10-12 hours of sleep to feel properly energized for school and activities the following day? Plus, while they're asleep you can get to tidying the house or having a little "you" time!
6. Put together an “emergency kit" for the parent on the go. This can include whatever you think might be needed but some ideas include a stain remover, granola bars, feminine products, notebook and pen, hand lotion, bandaids, kleenex. Depending on what you find yourself needing in emergencies, this kit could be a lifesaver!
7. Create an “HQ.” Your own personal headquarters, or a kitchen command centre as the hub of your "organization". Your to-do lists, permission slips, car keys, cell phones and anything else that you find creating confusion in the mornings should be integrated into this central location.
Keep Your House Organized
8. Do some paper organizing. Have a folder or drawer designated for bills, receipts, and mail so they can be tucked away and not misplaced. Once a week go through the papers and deal with them as necessary - throw away junk mail, pay bills, file important receipts.
9. De-clutter the front hall. Backpacks and shoes often create a tripping hazard. Use a cubby near the entrance for easy stowaway access. Install hooks to hang coats.
10. Designate a cupboard for lunches. This cupboard will have your Tupperware, snacks, lunch bags, and anything else needed becoming a one-stop shop for lunches.
11. Organize your fridge in the same way and pre-portion whenever possible. Create your own lunch station in the fridge for easy assembly. If the kids are old enough, show them how to build their own lunch and save yourself from having to do that step!
12. Create a homework haven. This is essential as the kids grow older and homework hours increase. This should be a quiet area with ample working space. Keep pencils, erasers, pens and other basic supplies here.
13. Make it mobile. If you don't have a permanent area that can be designated for only homework then put together a tray or caddy. Stock it with all the materials and supplies needed, and carry it to the kitchen table or whatever area is available.
14. Trick the children into sorting through their wardrobe with the delightful game "Keep or Toss!" Anything that doesn't fit properly or has holes gets handed down or tossed, and rooms don't get cluttered with an excess of clothing!
Save Yourself Some Time
15. Keep extra supplies! Have extra pencil crayons, scissors and bristol board on hand. Many school projects require these items so why stress about buying them the night before when your 14-year-old suddenly recalls their month long project is due the next day? Keep supplies stashed to save you time and stress.
16. Lay out clothes for the next day. This method of organization is often forgotten. Treat yourself to a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning and choose the outfit the night before, when you are more awake!
17. Make a hair station. This is a designated area for hair ties, brushes and hair products that can be helpful in reducing the last minute frenzy that often occurs in the morning. No more searching the house for a hair tie or bobby pins.
18. Make dinners easy on yourself! Once a week, create up a meal plan and post the dinners for your family to see. When you plan ahead and have the right ingredients on hand it saves you from last-minute trips to the grocery store. Make double batches so you can have leftovers the next day or freeze them for later in the week.
Life gets busy balancing everyone's schedules, but as you prepare for the kids to go back to school you can save yourself some stress by getting organized before September hits. There's always a way to make your mornings and evenings more efficient and your kids will be impressed with just how smoothly things go when you use these organizational ideas!
Keep these tips in mind when getting ready for the back-to-school season and you'll be sure to hit the ground running. Happy back-to-schooling!