It’s back to school time in Central Ohio, and we know that parenting school-age children comes with it’s own set of challenges. Hectic mornings, extracurricular activities, and homework can add additional stress to your already full plate. Take some of the stress off both of you and set your child up for success by implementing a few ideas to help you get organized and prepared for the school year.
Create a Functional Entryway/Mudroom
Get out the door quickly with bookbags, coats, and shoes organized and ready to go as the kids walk out the door. Organize an area where these items are quickly accessible and easy to find. If you are fortunate enough to have a mudroom like the one found in our new Dover floorplan, your task is nearly complete. Designate a hook and shelf for each child so they always know where to find and store their items. If you don’t have an area already set up, you can create one with a few supplies. Dedicate a space near your entry or garage and hang a few hooks for backpacks and coats. Use bins, baskets, or a cabinet for shoes, socks, hats, and gloves. Also, don’t forget to keep an umbrella handy for rainy days.
Set up a Command Center
As kids start to have their own activities and schedules, managing the family logistics can get overwhelming. Set up a command center for the family to help keep everyone on task and prepared for the day. Create a space in your home where you can communicate schedules, deadlines, and other important messages. Make a weekly meal plan and post it in the command center. Organize important papers, keys, passes, and other items and keep them in the command center for easy access.
Organize School Papers
Does your kitchen table become a sea of kids’ papers they brought home from school? Get ahead of that now and start a filing system for school papers, such as a portable filing bin with hanging folders!
First, label a hanging file for each child. In each file, make folders for action items, short-term storage, and long-term storage. Action items should include things that you need to send back to school or make note of on the calendar. The short-term folder will house information for events happening soon, but not needed after the event. Long-term storage is for those special items that you want to keep that your child brings home such as awards, progress reports, artwork, etc.
Every day, clear the backpack out and place papers in the folders. Review the action items folder daily and the short-term file regularly - getting rid of items that are no longer needed. At the end of the school year, take the items out of the long-term storage and put them into an envelope labeled for that school year and store it.
Create a Breakfast Cart/Cabinet
If your child packs a lunch or snacks to take to school, you will want to stream-line lunch packing as much as possible. Pre-portion snacks and lunch items into bags or plastic containers and keep them together in a bin in the fridge and/or cabinet. Make sandwiches ahead of time and keep them organized in a designated bin or drawer in the refrigerator. Make it easy to grab healthy lunch items and put them in their lunchbox in the morning. Here is a list of healthy lunch ideas for the entire month of September!
Layout Clothes for the Week
Save time and stress in the morning by laying out clothes for the week ahead of time. Organize them in a closet organizer, shelves or bins labeled for each day of the week. Do this together with your child on the weekend or add this to their weekend chore chart. Not only does it ensure you have enough clean sets of clothes for the week, but it can eliminate a last-minute wardrobe crisis.
Organize School Supplies
Do yourself a favor and have a set of school supplies ready to go at a moment’s notice so you aren’t running to the store the night a project is due to buy glue! Keep all the basics and organize them so you can keep tabs on the quantity. Invest in a caddy where you can store pencils, scissors, glue sticks, markers, etc. Keep paper, card stock, stickers, and other flat items in a file folder. It will make life easier for both yourself and your child.
Fill a Backseat Organizer with Last-Minute Items
How many times have you been in the school drop-off line when your child spills their yogurt on their shirt or discovers they’ve forgotten their water bottle? Be prepared by packing an organizer full of items that you may need. Choose an organizer that hangs on the back of your seat so kids can easily access it. Fill it with non-perishable snacks, stain remover, tissues, first aid kit, wipes, water bottle, sunscreen, and an extra set of clothes.
Implement some of these tips into your daily routine and help alleviate a little bit of stress on you and your family. Whether you are a seasoned parent of school-agers or just starting out, make the most out of this school year and enjoy it with your child.