I’ve invited Natalie Gallagher to share some advice for an organized school year. I'm so excited that Natalie agreed to share her wisdom with you. If you don’t know Natalie already, she blogs at the Refined Rooms blog. She is a professional organizer who recently started an organizing blog.
I'm Natalie and my little slice of the internet is called Refined Rooms, where I share ideas, tips and inspiration to help you create an organized and beautiful home. I’m thrilled to return here to chat once again about organizing for school-age kids!
I have a rising 7th grader and 5th grader who will begin a new academic year in just a few short weeks. I'm guessing that many of you are in the same boat and would like to do as much as possible to set your kids up for success this fall (and to maintain your sanity as you shift into “back-to-school” mode).
So today, I'm sharing my top 10 action steps to take in your household to set the stage for an organized school year.
1. Set up systems for managing incoming school papers
Schools love to stuff our kids' backpacks with all kinds of paper. Make sure you have a game plan for what you will do with the various types of paper that will soon begin arriving home each afternoon. Start by designating a home for school memorabilia and school art work.
You'll also need to figure out where those actionable papers such as field trip permission slips will live. And don't forget those reference papers that contain all of the details for upcoming school events. Need ideas on how to manage these school papers? Check out the systems that I use in my own home for inspiration.
2. Set up your Drop Zone
You know that tendency your kids have to drop everything in their hands in a pile somewhere just as soon as they come through the door at the end of the school day? A household drop zone makes that annoying pile go away AND makes it easy for them to locate those essential items that they need when they're rushing out the door in the morning.
Aim to create your drop zone near the area where the kids naturally dump their belongings. Ideally, your drop zone will be the place you store backpacks, outerwear, sports gear, and band instruments. Explore this gallery of drop zone examples to gather ideas for how to set up a drop zone in your home.
3. Update your calendar
A week or two before the school year officially begins, carve out some time to populate your calendar as much as possible with important school dates (e.g., vacation periods), upcoming doctor's appointments, extracurricular activities and family events.
It's amazing how fast our calendars fill up during the beginning of the school year. Keeping your calendar current will help you to successfully juggle all of these obligations and prevent you from double-booking yourself and your family members.
4. Visit the doctor
Is this the year your child needs additional vaccinations? Does your child's sport team require a physical before the start of the season? Now's the time to get ‘er done.
5. Shop strategically for school supplies
Typically around December, my kids' teachers send a series of notes home to let parents know that the class is desperately low on several types of key school supplies. Do yourself a favor and stock up on pencils, erasers, highlighters, and crayons for future months while you're shopping for their back-to-school supplies. Not only will you save yourself time in a few months, by taking advantage of the August school supply sales, you'll be saving beaucoup bucks!
6. Conduct a “Wardrobe Review”
There's nothing worse than discovering on the first brisk morning of the fall season that last year's fall wardrobe no longer fits. If your kiddos are like mine, they are growing at a swift pace and it's likely that a back-to-school shopping trip is in your future.
But first, conduct a wardrobe review to determine the specific items you need to purchase during that shopping trip. This process involves sorting the items in the closet and having your kids put on a fashion show to determine which items are keepers and which ones need to be purged.
7. Create a homework station
Designate a quiet area in your home for your kids to complete homework, and make sure it's well-stocked with all of the necessary school/office supplies (markers, pencils/eraser, calculator). Setting up a homework station in advance will help your kids to stay focused and be productive once the daily homework grind begins.
8. Organize lunch supplies
If your child packs their lunch, another great way to prepare for the start of school is to corral all of your lunch-making supplies (lunch bag, thermos, food containers) together to create a lunch-making station in your kitchen. Also consider stocking up on the regular lunch staples ahead of time.
9. Establish routines
Establishing consistent daily routines at the start of the school year is a crucial step to help your kids successfully transition from the unstructured summer days to the highly structured school day schedule. Over the years, our household has benefitted from a having a morning, after-school, and evening routine. I use checklists to help my kids to stay on track with these daily routines.
For example, our evening routine looks like this:
10. Adjust sleep schedules
This summer, my daughter has been going to bed around midnight and will sleep until noon if I let her. Considering she'll need to wake up around 6:15 a.m. once the school year begins, I suspect mornings are going to be rough in our house for the first few weeks. In order to make that transition a bit less harsh, I'm gradually shifting her bedtime earlier by 20 minutes over the next week.
Your child may not like that earlier bedtime during these last few weeks of summer, but their bodies and minds will be so much better equipped to learn during those first few weeks of the school year if they aren't sleep-deprived.
Here's to an organized school year!
Additional Organizing Resources
If you’re looking for more organizing ideas, tips & projects to dive into during these dog days of summer, be sure to check out my gallery of organizing projects:
I also invite you to check out my library of free resources (tool kits, checklists, templates, guides, & worksheets) that will help you get organized, be more productive, and style your home like a pro!
Natalie Gallagher is a former professional organizer turned blogger at Refined Rooms, where she shares tips & inspiration to help you get organized, be more productive, and style your home like a pro. You can connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
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