The new school year is here, moms and dads of southeast Michigan: And the time has come. This is the year you promised you’d take control of the daily routine, the misplaced papers and hectic mornings – and finally get the whole family involved in getting and staying organized.
Don’t let the overload of art projects, progress reports, permission slips and junk get in your way. Start now! This year, you can and will tackle the chaos of the back-to-school routine by getting your house in order. Follow these five tips and you and your family will have an organized and stress-free school year.
1. Plan ahead
The mornings are hectic enough without having to pack lunches, argue over outfit choices or look for that one lost shoe. In order to avoid frantically running around your home, plan things out the night before. Packing your kids’ lunches in the evening – whether it’s leftovers from dinner or fresh-made sandwiches – allows you more time for the unexpected things that may happen in the morning.
Also, picking out your kiddos’ outfits the night before is a big timesaver. Let’s be honest: The 7 a.m. clothing battle is not the highlight of the day. To avoid this, take the time the night before to prep a complete outfit: shirt, pants, socks, underwear, accessories and shoes. If there is ample space in your child’s room, try investing in little cubbies for him or her to place the clothing items for the following day. If not, simply hang everything up and make it easily accessible to your child.
2. Give items a ‘home’
Andrea Wolf, a mom of three and professional organizer in Oakland County, says giving items a “home” or place is a crucial way to get and stay organized. “The minute something doesn’t have a home, that’s when piles start,” Wolf says.
From fabric bins for shoes to magazine racks for important papers and plastic envelopes for the extra stuff you want to hold on to, Wolf says putting items in their respective places alleviates stress, mess and the hassle of losing things.
There’s nothing worse than looking for that one piece of paper your child absolutely needs two minutes before the school bus arrives. If papers are filed in a specific folder or location in the kitchen or office, they’re easier to locate.
3. Use the calendar
Dance lessons, soccer practice, parent-teacher conferences and all the other events happening in your week are pretty easy to forget when you’re working and managing a household. So it’s time to get – and stay – in the habit of writing everything down on a dry-erase board or calendar that you can place on the refrigerator or wall in the kitchen.
Since the kitchen is definitely a morning meeting place, it’s often the ideal spot to have a calendar. Cross each day off as it goes by, and check the calendar daily to make sure you and the kids are on top of each day’s tasks.
4. Throw things away, or recycle
Do you have those items that leave you asking, “Where should I put this? Do I need that?” Then it’s clearly time to ship that item out. From dozens of art projects to countless papers and other things your kids bring home from school, don’t be afraid to throw things away or recycle. All of these things will add clutter, get lost in the shuffle and just plain frustrate you.
“The trick is to really take notice of the stuff you start moving from place to place to place,” says Wolf. Once you’ve figured out what needs to go, simply get rid of it. There’s no use in holding onto things that are going to get in the way of your newly reorganized home.
5. Take the extra steps
We’re all guilty of it: Not putting things back where we found them. Maybe it’s a pair of shoes or a library book, but after a while, these things add up and create a cluttered home that is totally unorganized. To top it all off, the morning that your child is looking for one of those items, you’re bound to have anxiety.
“I’m very big on getting in the habit of taking the extra steps to put things back,” Wolf says. If things aren’t put in their usual place, they are sometimes impossible to find when you need them, thus adding to the morning hassle.
You want to keep your morning routine as stress-free as possible – and by simply putting things in their usual spots, you’ll be organized and ready to go each morning!
This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated in 2015.