Organize for Back to School

Can you organize your home for back to school success? Yes! With a little thought and planning, you can organize to prevent those messy spots that cause schedule and homework chaos.

Picture your family’s busiest times of day and where you spend that time. For many, those busy times are the morning rush to get out the door, and the evening dinner and homework hours. If those are your busy times and places too, then focus your powers of organization on the kitchen, entryway, and homework area. Now that you know where and when you want to make organizational changes, put together a list of your hot spots and what changes might prevent clutter and chaos.

Does your cluttered entryway make it hard to find shoes, backpacks, and school papers?

• Baskets, bins or shoe organizers can make it easy for even young children to put away shoes as they come in the door.
• A storage bench, lockers, or a row of hooks can hold umbrellas, coats, and backpacks.
• A shoe organizer on the door of the coat closet is a perfect place for gloves, hats, scarves, and other cold-weather items.
• Add a small table with a basket for important papers, homework, and bills. Toss a pen or two into the basket for fast signatures on those rushed mornings.
• Place a small waste basket nearby for junk mail and trash.

Does it take an hour to collect all the school supplies your kids need for homework each night? Whether your homework station is at your desk or the kitchen table, designate a drawer, basket, or shelf just for supplies. Stock it now with extras while school supplies are on sale:

• Basics like pens, pencils, paper, colored pencils, glue sticks, graph paper, crayons.
• Consider older kids too: Compass, protractor, calculator, white-out, sticky notes, highlighters.
• Stock all the things that can run out, get lost, or get left in the locker instead of coming home.
• Pencil sharpener (unless you use mechanical pencils).

Is it breakfast and lunchbox time that makes you crazy in the mornings? Consider blocking out a small area of counter space, kitchen cabinet, or drawers just for morning food prep. If the supplies are all together and the kids can serve themselves breakfast and just “go shopping” for their lunches in your cabinet, drawer, and fridge, mornings become a breeze!

• Store cereal, bowls, spoons, and napkins where kids can reach and serve themselves.
• Keep brown bags, ziplock bags, markers, plastic containers, and plastic wrap together in a drawer, or basket for an instant lunch-making station.
• Consider portioning out non-perishables on the weekend for easy grab-and-go for mornings.
• Some families even cut and bag several day’s worth of veggies, cheese, fruit, and other lunch items and store them together in the fridge.

Some general tips for easing family traffic jams during the school year:

• Post a list of useful phone numbers, and put them in your cell phones: Schools, teachers, lunch hotline, caregivers and emergency contacts such as doctors, dentists, and poison control.
• Post a list of useful websites near your computer, or bookmark them on your browser: Schools, PTA, homework sites, and websites suggested by teachers. The list will grow all year.
• Keep a list of usernames and passwords for parent portals and sites like Schoology handy.
• Take the school calendar and post it in an easy-to-notice location. Add the dates to your online calendar on your computer or phone.

A few minor changes to your home and organization can lead to major improvements in your family routines. A little planning, a little stockpile of supplies, and you can be ready for anything as the school year begins again. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and The Columbus Team wishes a happy back-to-school to everyone!