Get Organized for Back to School

Whether you enjoy the relaxed schedule of summer or crave the school year routine, the transition can be a tough one for families.  Take the next couple of weeks to prepare and you will ace this big test.

1.       Sleep habits.  Many kids get to stay up late and sleep in during the summer.  A sudden return to an early morning wake-up will create cranky mornings and sleepy schooldays.  About a week before school starts, gradually transition bedtime and wakeup routines to look more and more like the ideal school day.

2.       Practice.  While you’re adjusting the timing of your routine, start to practice the critical aspects required to get to school on time.  For example, getting dressed immediately upon wake-up, setting the table for breakfast and getting teeth brushed.  If there are elements to the routine that will be new, like a walk to a new bus stop or a new drop off location, walk or drive it to confirm the time you need to stay on schedule.

3.       Organized space.  Prepare your kids’ rooms for success. 

a.       Closet.  No child can be expected to get dressed in time if they have to sift through clothes they have outgrown or aren’t appropriate for the season.  Take time to sort through their closet and remove clothes that can no longer be worn.  Seasonal clothes can be placed in a labeled storage box on a high shelf and small clothes can be transitioned to a younger sibling or donated.  Start with your oldest child’s room first to ensure you can efficiently integrate hand-me-downs into the younger child’s room.  Based on the items remaining, create a list of required items to purchase.  When placing items in the closet, store like with like and arrange by color.

b.      Toys.  Take this time to sort through the toys and supplies to remove items that are no longer appropriate.  Kids will be more efficient when their toys can be contained within storage homes where things are easy to find and easy to return.

c.       Homework.  Ensure kids have a designated space to do homework.  Clear out the broken pencils and empty bottles of glue to make space for this year’s supplies.  Once you have an inventory of your usable supplies, check it against the list from school and buy what is needed.  Don’t forget to purchase storage containers, so the area can remain organized long term. 

4.       Paperwork.  To ensure you are prepared for the paperwork required by the school, create a folder for each child including all required information.  Be sure to leave enough time to make necessary pediatrician appointments.  To avoid ongoing paper overload, create a “central command” for incoming information.  Develop an Action, File and Reference folder for each member of the family and as papers come in, ensure they are placed directly in the file.  Allocate time each week for these folders to be actioned and stick to it.

5.       Schedules.  Families are incredibly busy and it can be a full time job to track schedules.  Create a family calendar so the entire schedule is communicated to every member of the family.   Whether it is an old school calendar placed at “central command” and color coded by family member or a shared calendar in the cloud, family members should develop a habit of adding appointments to the calendar as soon as confirmed.

6.       Morning Routine.  The routine may look different for every family but it is important there is structure to the morning so every family member knows what’s required to arrive at school on time.  If there are problem areas that slow down momentum, look for creative solutions. (For example, many kids are stubborn about choosing their own clothes but struggle to do so in a timely manner.  Create a system that allows them to take the time they need by choosing clothes for the week on Sunday.  Put each outfit on a hook, bin or shelf designated for each day so all they have to do in the morning is put it on.)  Ensure no one forgets their lunch or homework by creating an exit space for every member of the family.  Whether they get their own cubby or a bin by the door, they should have a spot to put anything that needs to go with them for the day.  As much as possible, prepare the exit space the night before.