Get Organized for Back-to-School

6 Simple Must Do Strategies

The key to the best school year ever is to get organized! Getting organized for the school year will help everything run more smoothly. You, as well as your children, will feel much calmer and more confident. Plus, everyone will have a lot less stress and a lot more fun! Following are a list of things you can do to start the school year off right.

Shop for School Clothes & Supplies Early
Have each child try on their school clothes and shoes from last year. Get rid of what no longer fits or pass on to another child in the same household. Make a list of what each child needs for the new school year. Very important: when shopping, stick to the list! Look for bargains and sales in the local newspaper to decide where to shop. Before you shop, discuss the 'needs list' and the family budget with your children to avoid the in-the-store-tantrums.

Get the necessary school supplies list from the school. First, look to see what you already have at home. Then, buy what you still need. Most importantly, make sure each child has a functional, sturdy backpack that will last a long time.

Designate a Launching Pad
One of the single most important things you can do to get organized is to set up a launching pad. A launching pad is a place where you put everything you need for the next day. Backpacks, coats, water bottles, homework assignments, signed permission slips, and library books are some of the things you might put there. The launching pad should be located somewhere near the front door and each child should have their own. It can be a small table, a few hooks on the wall, a cubby, or even a large basket. Use whatever works best for you and the space you have. The idea is that everything is in one place so you can grab and go as you're walking out the door.

Create a Lunch Packing Center
Preparing for lunches each day will be much quicker (& less painful) if you have a lunch packing center set up in your kitchen. Designate a cupboard or shelf (low enough for all to reach) where everything needed for preparing lunches can be stored. Some things you might store there are: juice drinks, pre-packaged snacks, bread, ziplocks, cling wrap, disposable utensils, napkins, and paper bags or lunch boxes. Also designate a medium size clear plastic container in your regrigerator for all sandwich makings. Having everything in one location will make lunch prep easy and fast. have children prepare lunches the night before so there's one less thing to do in the morning.

Set up a Homework Station
This can be a desk or the kitchen table. It should be quiet and free of distractions. Save time by keeping all needed supplies handy either in a shoe box, portable bin, or even a basket. Have one for each child to avoid unnecessary arguments. Decide on a daily homework routine and stick to it!

Create Calendar Central
Every household needs a centralized site for all family calendars and schedules. I recommend using a large dry-erase wall mounted calendar or a large paper desk calendar located in a place that's easily viewable by all. Fill in all activities (sport practice, music lessons, birthday parties, etc.) using a different color for each family member. Color-coding entries helps keep busy lives straight. Put specialized schedules and calendars in a small binder nearby to refer to when filling in each month's family calendar. The key is to use only ONE large calendar for the entire family.

Establish Routines
Children need structure in their lives. Creating structure means establishing routines. Take the time to set up after school routines, evening routines, and morning routines. Evening routines might consist of dinner, clean up, and next day prep by picking out clothing, making lunches, and placing items in the launching pad area. Morning routines might consist of dressing, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, and grabbing items from the launching pad while heading out the door. Discuss routines with children ahead of time by making sure they know what's expected of them so they can have a happy, successful day!

In addition, a week or two before school starts, re-establish earlier bed times and start the early wake-up routine. By doing this, it'll be a lot easier for them to wake up and get moving the first week of school... making mornings a much calmer, happier time for all!

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