In parts of the country, school bells are already ringing as children say good-by to the lazy days of summer and hello to school and homework. This means parents are gearing up for busy school time schedules and extra-curricular activities. Every minute counts when you’re trying to get your crew out the door in the morning. Following a few organizational tips may help you all head out the door calm, collected and on time.
Having a plan for the point of entry in your home will go a long way toward keeping the clutter controlled in the rest of your house. Look at the place where everyone enters and exits your house. Is it a mudroom? A hallway with a closet? Whatever you have, you need to designate an area where everyone can “dejunk” in an organized way.
If you have enough room, install a heavy-duty hook for each child in your family and purchase a shoe tree. When your children arrive home, have them hang their backpacks on their hooks and put their shoes on the shoe tree. You then have a neat, clutter-free zone so that people can get in and out of the house without tripping on shoes and bags. Train your children to automatically do this as soon as they walk in the door. It may take a few days of you reminding them, but soon it should become a habit.
In the evening after homework is finished, have each child put his or her backpack with everything needed for the next day back on the hook and ready to grab on the way out the door. This will prevent the morning panic of running around hunting for missing papers and backpacks.
Designate a place as “homework central” in your house—preferably not in a room with the TV. Stock it with paper, pencils, pens, calculator, a dictionary—whatever your children need to get their homework done. This should be a quiet zone. Older children may prefer to work in their own rooms, which is fine. Establishing a homework central area when your kids are young will prepare them to work on their own later.
Children, especially teens, can have notoriously messy bedrooms. But, incorporating a bit of organization and storage in their rooms can help make the mornings less stressful. For each child’s room, purchase an over-the-door pocket shoe organizer, a hamper and an under-bed organizer. These three items can make a big difference. Pocket shoe organizers can be used for zillions of things other than shoes. Little kids love to put their stuffed animals and small toys in them. For teens they are perfect for hats, scarves, belts, hair accessories, make-up and lotions. Use them to help control the clutter in your kids’ rooms.
The same thing goes for the under-bed organizers. These are perfect for storing extra clothes, shoes, books or whatever extra things are lying about. Finally, make sure each child has a hamper and puts his or her dirty clothes in it.
If you find that your home is just too cluttered, but you can’t permanently get rid of the stuff because you’re going to need in the future, you may want to consider renting a storage unit. These can be dropped off at your home for you to fill up and then stored either on your property or in a storage warehouse.
Following these few tips can make all the difference between chaos and calm as you ease you and your kids into your back-to-school schedule.