It's back to school time, which means it is time to get your family (especially the kids) organized. Back to school can be so busy, that it's easy to see how homework, library books and even piano practice can sometimes be forgotten. It can be tricky to organize your family in a way that ensures these important things aren't missed - especially if you have multiple children, activities, and many other things on your agenda. Here are my favorite seven ways to get your family organized for back to school. These tips will keep you organized and allow you time to focus on what you love - your family.
#1: The Family Calendar – Digital Version
A great way to ensure that everyone (especially Mom and Dad) are on the same page when it comes to the family calendar is to digitize it. You will want to choose an online scheduling system that allows multiple users and is easy to use, color coded and comes complete with auto-updates. Many online calendars allow you to set up reminders for more than just appointments, you can request to be updated on birthdays, grocery lists and even personalize the calendar homepage. These systems will send a text or email reminder to everyone on the list, alerting them to an upcoming appointment or event.
#2: It’s All in the Bag
Every day when you child comes home from school, immediately check out the contents of their backpack. You will find any homework that needs to be completed, library books that have been checked out and permission slips that need to be signed. I like to take care of everything in my son’s backpack immediately. I remove the homework and place it on his desk to be completed, I sign and return any paperwork that needs to go back to school and file his library book on our media center. I find that if everything that needs to be in the backpack, stays in the backpack, we are able to get out the door quicker in the morning.
#3: Keep Everything Together
Getting out of the door in the morning can be a nightmare if your child can’t remember where he put his shoes or jacket, can’t find his homework, backpack or the library book that is due today. To keep everything that needs to go back to school organized, we have a special place by the front door that “houses” everything for school. When my son comes home from school, his school shoes and jacket are left in his cubby by the front door, after I go through his backpack, it’s hung on his hook by the cubby, if he has a special activity after school or a library book that needs to be returned the next day, those items are also placed in the cubby. I like to check to make sure everything is together and ready to go right before I go to bed.
#4: Homework Help Station
When designing my son’s desk space, I made sure to include everything that he would need to complete his homework. His desk is in a quiet alcove of our home away from the buzzing household. His desk drawers are stocked with eco-friendly paper, pencils, erasers, art mediums, glue, tape, a dictionary, scissors, a ruler and staple-less stapler – this way regardless of the homework that he has to complete, he has everything he should need, helping him to stay focused on the project at hand. When his homework is finished, he brings it to me to “check” and then it is immediately put in his backpack to go back to school.
#5: Prepare for the Madness
I think that it’s almost impossible to get yourself and your children ready for the day at the same time. When school starts, I immediately set my alarm to go off at 5 am, I know that sounds early but it allows me the time to get up, exercise, get ready for the day and clean up the house – all before my son gets up. This way I’m able to focus on helping him get ready for school, making him a homemade breakfast and lunch for school, and even chatting with him about the upcoming day. I have found that if I have already taken care of myself, I don’t feel frazzled or frustrated when something grows wrong, such as the time he dropped his smoothie on the way out the door (true story) or the time our Pug decided to escape out the front door on our way out.
#6: Slow Down
Be realistic about the amount of time and energy that your family can devote to before and after school activities. Your child doesn’t have to be scheduled for an activity every single day after school. Spending time together as a family is just as important – if not more so – than organized sports or music lessons. I feel that finding a good balance is key. Children can just as easily feel overwhelmed and over-scheduled as adults do and should be allowed time to just hang out with family, read, play with friends and relax. And really doesn’t that sound like more fun that driving through rush-hour to make soccer practice on the other side of town?
#7: Check it Off
If your child has a project that is due for school that needs to be completed at home, it is a good idea to create an agenda to make sure that it gets completed on time. I like to have my son write out an agenda of the parts of the project that need to be completed, how long each piece will take to complete and then check off each item when they it is done. This has saved us a lot of headaches – we don’t stress that a book report, science project or essay is due the following day because it’s something that we have been focusing on in small pieces over the past several days or weeks.
How do you keep your family organized for back to school?
Lead Image © Travis Warren 123