Recently I posted a toll on my instagram page, asking parents of school-aged children if they celebrate the start of a new school year or dread it. The results were pretty much split in half: 52% of parents are counting down the days, and the other 48% are not as excited about sending their kids off to school.
While the lack of structure during summer break gets old for many parents, the demands of the structured school year can also be a dread!I have 6 organizing tips to help you prepare for a new school year. The goal here is to help you maintain excitement for the structure rather than feeling burned out after just two weeks. "Back to school" time is coming whether you're ready or not... so take note!
Get your child's bedroom organized. The easier it is to find clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc in the morning - the better chance you have for getting to school on time.
Take an inventory of the clothes that don't fit or don't get worn, and get rid of them! Make space for everything to be seen without digging under piles. I would suggest keeping a box, bin, or basket that holds clothes when your child outgrows them. Sale, donate, or box up (for hand-me-downs) when the container is full!
Other suggestions... for dresser drawers: categorize clothing, file fold tops and bottoms, and use drawer organizers (even shoeboxes work!) to separate categories.
If you like to keep shoes and socks by the front door, create a system that makes it easy for children to find what they need as they leave for school each day. Isn't it the worst when you end up late for something because your child couldn't find one of their shoes?!
Create a "home" for all important paperwork regarding school. This can be done with a simple 2-pocket folder. In my home, each of my kids have separate folders because they go to different schools. If you have several children at the same school: I would suggest using one folder for all general school info, plus an additional folder for each child's classroom. (I use the 2-pocket folder system for extra-curricular activities as well).
This folder system works great for filing away informative papers that you need to access at a later date. Parents receive SO MANY papers at the beginning of a school year, but actually there's a steady flow of more throughout the entire school year! When you have a place to put those papers, you're cutting down on clutter in your home. Paper clutter, but the way... is what I hear people complain about the most when it comes to home organizing.
Use any type of container for a "temporary holding spot" if you have a child that wants to keep way too many craft/art projects and/or school work. My 1st grader is that kind of child. While we don't want to throw away something that our children worked hard on and are proud of - we also don't want to keep every.single.piece.of.paper that they bring home!
Let me share with you ... the way I deal with too many "special papers": some of these special papers get hung up (and rotated out periodically), and others go into the temporary holding box. If my daughter asks me where the paper-bag-turned-puppet craft is, I can pull it out of the box because I haven't thrown it away (just yet anyway). The fact of the matter is - she won't remember anything about that craft project weeks after she made it, because she makes so many and moves on to care more about her most recent projects. I don't get rid of items in the temporary box until months after they've been sitting inside. I clean the box out when it gets full, and items inside that are true keepsakes get filed away in the "forever" box (explained below).
If you find it hard to part with your child's artwork - but you know that it's not practical to keep all of it - consider taking pictures of everything from the temporary box when it fills up, and then create a picture book that you can save forever. Look into companies like ARTKIVE or CHATBOOKS to get this done.
The forever box. This is a file box that I think every child should have for paper keepsakes throughout their whole childhood, starting from birth and lasting through high school graduation.
When my child earns a special award, writes a special paper, or colors something really meaningful with keepsake value - I skip right over the temporary box and file those things away in their forever box. Other papers that make the cut are things that show their personality, a good sampling of their handwriting, or something I know I will want to remember about them years down the road. The forever box will hold the most special things, and when your child is grown: he or she will appreciate that you aren't sending them several boxes full of things that they really don't have much attachment to.
Set up a system that makes packing lunches easy enough for children to do themselves. If you can help a child learn how to pack him or herself a balanced lunch, you won't feel like ALL the burden for sending a child out the door each day, prepared with signed homework, brushed teeth, tied shoes, a packed lunch, zipped up pants and combed hair falls on you alone.
An organized pantry has really helped me with the task of getting lunches packed. My daughter knew where to find her lunchbox each day as a kindergartner and how to pack it for lunch on her own, because my pantry was set up for her to be able to do that.
Establish routines and expectations for your children after school. Doing homework at the same time everyday helps them because they know what to plan for. If you have a space designated as the "homework station" ... even better! Keep supplies close in order to limit distractions. It's likely that your child might get distracted if they have to walk around the house to find supplies in order to get their homework done.
I've found that when my kids know what is expected of them (as far as homework goes), there is less complaining, bargaining, and stalling from them, and less nagging, frustration, and impatience on my end!
I hope that implementing one of more of these tips in your home will help you feel more confident and ready for the fast-pace life that the school year brings. Good luck parents, students and especially TEACHERS!