Back to School | Family Organizing
School Organizing Routines Help Families Avoid Stress
I’m a West Coast girl turned small town, Midwest Mom. I love the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time with my family. I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible.
With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.
I am a high energy person, and love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am miraculously able to help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.
It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.
By planning ahead and creating some helpful school organizing routines, your family can dodge avoidable stressful moments.
Years ago, we were getting ready to leave for school when my daughter Emily came to me and anxiously told me that she could not find her plaid school uniform jumper. I calmly ensured her that there was one hanging in the laundry room. She told me that she had already looked there. I knew I had just washed it and hung it there, so I told her to look again. She didn’t find it the second time either. I went to the laundry room to retrieve it myself. All the while thinking, “Why are my children inept at finding anything on their own?”
To my surprise, and dismay, I couldn’t find it either.
I could feel anxiety boiling up inside me. We had to leave for school soon, and it was going to be 89 degrees that day. I ask you, what fate could be worse than being the only kid in school wearing pants on a smoldering hot day? My calm self had vanished like the jumper. Now I was running around the house in a searching frenzy.
That was just about the time that Emily’s older sister Maddie happened to notice that Cassie was all dressed for kindergarten and ready to go. The only thing was, she was swimming in her jumper, which hung down nearly to her ankles. Thankfully, the mystery had been solved, and without a moment to spare.
These occasional crises seem to go hand in hand with family life. And while we can’t avoid every roller coaster moment entirely, we can at least take steps to minimize the frequency and probability of them popping up in the first place.
Establish a Weekly Family Huddle.
Decide what day works best for your family…possibly Saturday mornings, or Sunday evenings, and hold a weekly family planning meeting. Discuss the upcoming week’s activities, deadlines and appointments, and add them to the family calendar. Plan ahead for any activities that require any advance preparation like purchasing new shoes before football practice or baking cookies for an event. This will have a big impact on helping you stay in control and avoid unwelcomed surprises as the week progresses.
Plan Ahead for Things That Need to Get Done at Home.
The family huddle can also be a good time to plan the other things that need to get done at home each week. Have your family help decide what meals they would like to eat for the week. Be sure to create a grocery list to go along with the plan. Update the household chore chart and decide what each person is responsible for completing that week.
Prepare the Night Before.
Have each family member take 10-15 minutes before bedtime each night to get organized for the next school day. Lay out outfits, pack everything that needs to go to school. Gather together after-school supplies and snacks for activities. Make lunches for the next day. Doing this will help the mornings to run smoother and will prevent items from being forgotten.
Establish a Launching Pad.
Create a system by the door to help your child remember the items that need to go with them to school each day. A launching pad can be created by placing a bin or basket by the door that everyone leaves out of. It is the perfect place to put lunches, backpacks, coats, musical instruments and sports equipment.
Go Through Your Child’s Backpack Every Day.
Pick a time that works well for you and go through the paperwork in your child’s backpack daily. Doing it when your children are tackling their homework works well. Take immediate action on any paperwork that needs to be signed or completed rather than putting it off until later.
Don’t Put Off the Predictable.
Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get scheduled activities out of the way and prepare ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For example, not waiting until the day before practice to shop for football shoes will prevent you from panicking if you can’t find the size you need at the store.
Create a Family Command Center.
A bulletin board is a good place for the family calendar, weekly household chore charts, schedules and other things that need to be referenced frequently. Use hanging wall pockets or small bins to assign mailboxes to each child. These can house all those important papers that they bring home that you may need for future reference.
Designate a Separate Place for Completed School and Artwork.
As the year progresses, there is a simple way to organize the monsoon of school paperwork that comes home with your child each day. Just toss everything into a conveniently located open bin and plan to go through it at regular time intervals. When it’s time to go through the bin, toss all past schoolwork except any keepsake items. Create a labeled School Keepsake bin for each child and transfer things like special projects and artwork to the keepsake bins.
Create a Daily 10 Minute Family Tidy Session.
Get your family in the habit of participating in a group tidy session at the same time each day, perhaps right before or after supper. You’ll be surprised how quickly your home can go from disheveled to orderly when everyone pitches in and works together for just 10 minutes. You can also make it fun by setting a timer or playing music. Having a tidy home will help you feel more in control and organized as the school year progresses.
What Other School Organizing Routines Can You Establish?
Forming routines, such as doing homework and household chores at the same time every day, and having set bath and bedtimes, can help both you and your child feel more in control. Routines give a sense of security and predictability that make our lives feel less chaotic. Establish a school organizing routine with your child as soon as possible and stick with it.
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