You know how excited I get about organization, and today I'm thrilled to welcome Jessica Johnson from www.extraspace.com, here to offer her back-to-school organizational tips!
With summer's end on the horizon, it's time to start thinking about ramping back up for school. But instead of groaning, approach this school year with a renewed determination to do things "right" this time!
Of course that means different things for different people, but there are some general guidelines and best practices that apply across the board. Basically, it's all about getting in sync with the various gears you and your kids will need to shift now that days will be spent in the school yard instead of the backyard.
Here are a few "smart syncing" ideas to get your neurons firing and help your kids skip to the head of the class.
Start with a Clean Slate
In the same way that "Spring Cleaning" applies to adults, kids should observe "Back-to-School Cleaning." If they haven't already cleaned out their backpacks from last year (something to keep in mind for the end of this year!), a good flush is in order first.
Create a System
Once you're back to the beginning, set up a system to keep you on track for the rest of the school year. This includes organizing items for school, setting up a designated working area for homework and school supplies, and planning ahead to avoid last minute scrambling that only piles on unnecessary stress.
- Files and folders are great for separating items as they come in from the classroom. Consider color-coding files and labeling folders to find what you need in a flash.
- Toss trash at the end of the day – whether it's afterschool snack wrappers or scratch paper from math homework, place trash in the recycling bin or trash can at the end of every day to avoid it piling up and becoming unmanageable.
- Become a fan of lists. Adults have a hard enough time keeping everything in order without the aid of a "to do" list, so help your kids understand the value of writing things down – you won't forget them and you won't have to use precious brain power trying to keep it all straight. After all, they'll need it for geometry or algebra or whatever else the kids are learning these days!
Establish an "End of the Day" Routine
In an ideal situation, everything is ready to go in the morning when your kids wake up. Fortunately, with a bit of day-before prep, this perfect scenario can be a reality! So before bedtime, make sure your kids take care of these tasks:
- Complete all homework. Few things are as frustrating for a kid than having to rush in the morning to finish assignments and get ready at the same time. Plus, isn't the point of homework to actually learn something? This is made much more difficult when done during the mad dash to get out the door.
- Pack up backpacks and book bags. One of the things that is worse for a kid is spending the time to do assignments in a thoughtful way, completing them with plenty of time to spare the day before and then forgetting something at home.
- Place all bags near the door. If backpacks are waiting with the shoes by the front door, there's no need to run around frantically at the last minute when the bus is pulling in, or worse, pulling away from the curb.
- Pre-make lunch (as much as possible). If you need to wait until the morning to put together sandwiches so they don't get soggy, that's much easier to handle in a pinch if you have already compiled the other components of the meal. All you need to do is add the sandwich to the sack with the pre-bagged snacks and drink and send them on their way!
- Lay out all clothes and accessories. No more sending your daughter back upstairs to change when she comes down in the morning with mismatched clothes. Forget facing the shame of sending your son to school with the same smelly socks he wore yesterday because he didn't tell you last night that he needed a clean pair when you could have done something about it. Nope – if school clothes are assembled the night before, you retain final approval over outfit selections and the ability to run a load of laundry if necessary.
- Stick to a routine. Consistency is key: in addition to applying to all of the tips above, maintaining a regular schedule with sleeping and waking up will help the transition go more smoothly until the point that your new lifestyle becomes automatic.
What are some of the ways you and your kids have successfully streamlined your day to facilitate victory in the classroom?