Back-to-school time is upon us. Organizing is critical for a smooth exit in the morning, to make sure homework gets done, and to achieve a tranquil household. Moreover, you are teaching your children how to organize their own lives when they enter the work force on their own. Let’s break it down:
Mornings and Evenings
- For stress-free mornings and time for breakfast: pack lunches the night before, have papers signed, and backpacks packed.
- Have a designated area for an easy exit (preferably where you actually go out the door) for backpacks (with homework and signed papers), coats, and after school activities stuff (clothing, sports equipment, and/or instruments).
- Depending upon the age of the child, have clothing laid out so dressing is a cinch. Use the collapsible sweater shelves that hang from a rod in the closet and mark them with each day of the week (or just leave unlabeled). Kids can put an outfit, socks, underwear and even shoes in each slot so there’s no hunting for items in the morning. This could be done on a Sunday quickly and quietly and then each child is set for the week!
- Have a family calendar in a central location and review the next day’s schedule. Use this area to post upcoming events.
- Have homework areas designated according to the age of the child, the amount of supervision she needs, and your space restrictions. Typically the younger the child, the more supervision he or she needs. The kitchen is a good place for parents to keep watch over children and help with homework. Offices work if a child’s room has too many distractions in order to focus. Teenagers typically choose their bedrooms; some may or may not need a desk. You can always change the location if grades go up or down.
- Involve your child in organizing her room. Interview your child as a professional organizer would and ask her what she likes and dislikes about her room.
- Integrate as many of her suggestions to increase the chance the arrangement will work. Allow experimentation with the layout even if the room may appear chaotic at times.
- Divide the room into zones for different activities so everything has a ‘home’. Use furniture as room dividers instead of ‘lining the walls’ with furniture.
- Go vertical wherever possible: hooks, single shelves, book shelves, pockets on the backs of doors and inside closets.
- Use bed risers used by college students to boost the bed to store items underneath (use rolling bins).
- The less time she has to spend opening a lid, using a hanger, or opening a drawer, the more chance it will stay that way.
Start Organizing Early
- Unclutter after birthdays and holidays. It’s an easier time to let go of things.
- There’s only so much room; if you buy something new, get rid of something old. Teach your child charitable giving.
- Allow your children to sell their belongings at yard sales or on EBay.
- Set a good example and organize your own spaces.
Clutter Quote: “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling your walk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller