The Clutter Whisperers
Back-to-school Success - Not Stress!
Kick Off the School Year with an Organized Plan
Back-to-school – is it really almost here? What happened to the summer? If the idea of getting ready for a new school year gives you a panic attack, here are some tips to help ease the stress and plan for success.
Identify a space to store school-related stuff, papers, mails, coats, etc. It could be an actual mudroom, closet, or even just a wall near the door. Key element is it needs to be right next to your primary entrance.
Or - prepare to suffer the consequences of stuff all over your house!
Categories of Stuff That Need Homes:
· Homework – completed
· Homework – to do – loose folder to hold papers
· School Admin – permission slips, announcements, forms, etc.
· After School Activity Gear
· Scarves and Gloves
· Water bottles
· Library Books
· Musical instruments
Set up for success and not stress!
Here are ways to prepare for the school year:
Create a Homework Station
It can be as fancy as a desk, bookshelves and file cabinets in a bedroom, or as simple as a designated area of the kitchen or dining room.
You could even get a rolling caddy for each student, with supplies, room for notebooks, and homework folders which instantly turns any corner into a homework station.
Set up files (or bins) for Completed Homework, Today’s Homework and Future Assignments – depending on the age of the student, you may also need a Reports or Projects file. These magazine holders are great for free-standing organization or you can get some to hang on the wall.
For kids with ADHD/ADD it helps them to focus if there is a specified area that is uncluttered and inviting, with all the supplies they need to do homework.
Command Calendar Station
A magnetic pegboard, chalkboard, or dry erase calendar is great for this. I like pegboards because you can have a ‘Reminder” area for deadlines and events, and even an “Important” section for things that need attention ASAP, and you can even get little boxes to holds pens, keys, and other little things that seem to get lost a lot.
We used a large monthly paper calendar where all events and deadlines, vacation dates, and other important dates are noted. Everyone knew to look at the calendar to check what was happening that week.
Of course, you can also do this electronically with a Google or Outlook calendar. But it does seem to help having something visual as they run out the door.
Have a Designated Spot for Each Student
If you have room, it’s helpful to have a special spot/bin/cubby for each child where they can hang their backpacks and activity bags, take off shoes, hang coats, and a storage space for gloves/hats/scarves.
Then they know that their stuff goes ONLY there – and it’s the place to look when they can’t find anything.
Hmmm… maybe this would work for my husband too?
Create a file/bin/spot for parents to put things like permission slips, important school notices, anything that needs to be signed or looked at.
Extra School Supplies
Have extra pens, pencils, notebook paper, folders, report covers, tape, and stapler in a spot nearest the command center. It’s easier to replenish backpacks if everything is right there.
An over the door transparent shoe organizer is great for this!
Lunch Prep Station
Set up an area in your kitchen with everything you need to make lunches. Then it’s pretty much grab and go!
· A bin with healthy snacks (granola bars, fruit leather, raisins, protein bars). Put chips in small baggies or buy the ones that have single servings.
· Make pre-portioned snacks in the frig – orange slices, mango spears, carrot sticks, cheese sticks.
· Whatever baggies or Tupperware you use to hold food
· Bread basket
· Peanut butter and Jelly (or the equivalent) so kids can make their own sammies.
Check the Checklist
Help your kids get into the habit of doing these things every day to keep your clutter to a minimum. Even young kids can use a checklist with parental help.
Lunchbox with lunch
Refilled water bottle
Completed homework in folder
Signed permission forms in folder
After-school activity gear
Afternoon/After School Checklist
Put lunchbox next to kitchen sink
Put completed homework from the school day in file
Put important notices, announcements, permission slips to be signed, into the Parent In-box
Throw trash away
Show artwork to parents (who ooh and aah, then will file it)
Great idea – at the end of the school year, take photos of all the artwork and have it printed into a book (then you can toss the actual artwork itself without guilt)
What are you wearing tomorrow?
What activity do you need supplies/clothes for?
Fill water bottle and put in frig
Personally, I wish architects would design every home with a mudroom the size of the kitchen. This space is always way too small and it truly is the hub of a family’s activities.
Hope this is helpful! Have a great school year!
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