Summer has come and gone. The toys sprinkled around the living room for three months are soon to be put away and the late morning pajama parties are soon to be over.
Getting back into the school swing-of-things takes a shift in mindset from summer fun and lazy days to timely schedules and mental focus. There’s start dates, due dates, back-to-school nights and, of course, homework that needs to be completed. Multiply this list for each child. Do you have two children? Then you have twice as many due dates and deadlines.
While this transition can be dreaded, it can be easier with a few organizational changes. When you’re organized, there seem to be fewer surprises and it feels like you have a better grip on the chaos of life. To manage your family’s schedule the smarter (not harder) way, check out these back-to-school organization tips.
1. Create an entry (and exit) way
Creating an organized entryway puts everything you need to fly out the door in one convenient spot. For each child, place two hooks on the wall beside the door; one for their jacket, scarf or hat, and the other for their backpack. On the floor below the hooks, create a small cubby that shoes and socks can be placed in. Above the cubbies, install a small shelf where projects, or anything else that needs to be taken to school, can be placed.
For extra craft points, you can decorate the space above their hooks with their initials or a fun mural.
2. Family calendar
Place a large whiteboard calendar in your family room or kitchen—choose whichever space is used most by your family. In this instance, the bigger, the better! A bigger calendar will catch your eye, so you are more inclined to actually check the dates rather than stroll right passed it.
Step it up a notch by using color coordination. Give each family member a different color and don’t forget to create a key!
3. Keep your own family planner
Sure, the calendar works for the whole family, but as the person who’s running the show, you are responsible for far more. Your family planner can skip the homework due dates and include more vital things, like college application due dates, doctor and dentist appointments, travel plans, sports competitions and any extra notes. This weekend, are you responsible for bringing half-time snacks, or did you volunteer to drive for next week’s school field trip? Stay on top of your busy life by keeping track of it all in your planner.
4. Meal prep
You can easily prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week. This will save you so much time when you’re busy picking up the kids from soccer practice or dance class and managing to help with the finishing touches on a project. On Sunday, organize your meals for the week and prepare versatile staples like rice, quinoa and chicken. You can also prepare school snacks like pre-assorted veggie bags, homemade dips and protein energy balls.
For even more organization, create a weekly menu so you know exactly what to prepare ahead of time.
5. Keep a clean car
Chances are you spend the majority of your time in the car with your kids, which makes keeping the car clean a major key in organization. Stash some trash bags, baby wipes, and paper towels for those inevitable messes. Create “emergency” bags to store in your center console for every purpose. These can be first aid packs, extra school supplies like pens, pencils, tape, mini stapler, hole puncher and a mini calculator, and a hygiene bag with gum, mints, mouth wash, a mini hair brush and a stain remover pen.
Organization begins with being prepared and implementing simple management hacks. Give these tips a try and they’ll spark the mini perfectionist in you.