The lazy days of summer are followed all too quickly by the hectic days of fall, particularly if you’ve got school-age children. Schools are set to open Monday August 25 in St. Charles and savvy parents can make the transition easier by organizing their home for the impending school year. Even the most efficient parents can use a little help when it comes to perfecting their home to make the morning rush less chaotic and the evening activities/mealtime/homework/bedtime routine smoother.
Organizing 101 for Parents
A little bit of planning now can work wonders to keep your household feeling summer-easy all year.
- Control closet chaos. Before you dash to the mall for back-to-school shopping for shoes and clothes, take humid or rainy summer day to do a closet-and-drawer purge. The simplest way to do this is to take out every single item of clothing that your kids own. Inspect them all to see if they fit or are worn out or wearable, then put them into piles for keeping, repair or washing, or donating. When you’ve finished this task you’ll be able to make a shopping list for what you need to fill in the gaps.
- Prepare for paperwork. Before you get to the first day of school find out what documents you may need for the beginning of school, such as immunization records or evidence of a physical for some sports. If your kids are old enough they may have summer assignments that need to be completed. Checking on these items earlier in August prevents a night-before-school meltdown. While you’re at it, think about how to manage the avalanche of paperwork that comes home with the kids at the beginning of the year and often throughout the year. Buy a binder, folder or file box where you can store needed items and think about how to keep track of what you need and toss what you don’t.
- Create a calendar. Whether you’ve got one child or multiple kids, a crucial element of an organized household is a master calendar where you can keep up with school programs, afterschool activities, sports and music practice schedules, volunteer work, meetings, field trips, dentist and doctor appointments and birthday parties. Whether you’re a tech-savvy family that likes to sink their calendars with smartphones and tablets or you prefer a paper calendar or a white board doesn’t matter as much as making sure every family member knows where the calendar is and knows to keep it constantly updated and monitored. Most families find that keeping the calendar and assorted schedules together in the kitchen or family foyer works best.
- Reduce clutter. In addition to the calendar, families need to keep track of their books, backpacks, sports equipment and musical instruments. Before the school year starts you can think about where these items can go and how to keep them from becoming a giant obstacle course near your front door. While some families have the luxury of dedicated closet space or cubbies for these items, others need to get creative with baskets, hooks and coat racks to create a place that’s convenient and yet attractive.
- Plan for lunches and snacks. Plenty of families find the morning rush an awful way to start the day. One way to simplify things for everyone is to have a dedicated shelf in your refrigerator and one in your pantry for lunch supplies and snacks. If you keep everything in clear containers it’s easier to see what you have and what you need, plus your kids can help make their own lunches.
- Stock up on essentials. Whether your kids are in elementary, middle or high school, they always need supplies for projects and homework assignments. Think ahead about what they used last year and pick up colored pencils, markers, glue sticks, poster board, notebook paper, blank paper and more so that you can avoid the last minute rush to a store at closing time.
- Do a morning dry-run. If your kids walk to school you should walk the route with them to estimate how long it will take to get to school. If they ride the bus, find out where the stop is and determine what time you need to leave to get them there on time. If you plan to drive and you’re going to a new school, test out the route so the first day won’t be as stressful.
While you may not need to take all of these steps, try out one or two now to relieve some of that all-too-familiar back-to-school stress.