It’s back to school time and that means time to say goodbye to lazy summer mornings and hello to routine, structure, and backpacks! With a little bit of preparation and organization now, you can cruise through the first few weeks of school with your sanity in place. Here are my five favorite back to school sanity savers for Moms and kids:
Post a routine
Kids always do better when they know what to expect! Help your kids (especially those Kindergarten and 1st Graders) develop a morning routine and practice it before school starts. I love charts that I can post on the refrigerator (remember my summer chore chart?) and I have created a very simple one that is picture-based so that my 5 year old can go through it on her own. Yes, you can have one of your very own!! Download the morning routine reminder to hang on your own fridge.
Take it a week at a time
Use Sunday afternoons or evenings to get your week planned out. Keep the family schedule in a location that everyone can see. I have a dry erase weekly planner hanging on the fridge – everyone can get a feel for the events of the week at a glance and its easy to change.
I also keep a planner on my desk. I just ordered the MomAgenda because it has room for my schedule and notes, but also has space designated for each child and dinner. You can get them in a variety of sizes and colors. I picked the dark brown MomAgenda that is 7″x9″.
Create a Backpack Zone
Find a location in your house that is convenient and create a backpack zone. In our house it is the mudroom. Backpacks, shoes and jackets all get parked there when not in use. It makes it much easier to find everything in the morning if you aren’t hunting high and low all over the house for it.
Create a Home Study Zone
Give your kids a regular spot for doing homework – somewhere with good lighting, minimal distractions, and access to the supplies they may need to get the tasks done. Our kitchen table is the homework zone. There is no TV near by, the kids have plenty of room to spread out and I can monitor their progress without having to sit right there with them.
Joe Bruzzesse of Our Thinking is a Middle School expert and author. He has created a list of supplies to keep on hand for homework and projects. We have a china cabinet in the kitchen that houses art and school supplies. This summer the area got a little out of control so I spent some time this weekend clearing it out and reorganizing. One bin contains paper, notebooks and journals. Another bin contains pencils, pens, crayons, markers, rulers, scissors, tape and such. The bottom cabinet holds art kits (translation – beads) and coloring books.
Create a Go-To Binder
The single most used item in our kitchen is the “Ops book” – short for Operations (a term we inherited from my husband’s military ways). What is the Ops book? This 3-ring binder is my go-to resource for everything – a phone number, what’s for dinner, sports schedules, you name it!
This week I am going to help you set up a Go-To Binder for your house. Trust me, you’ll love it! And it will really help you stay organized, while saving you time and money, too.
Stop in each day this week for a new lesson, new printouts, and new tips for getting your household ready to go back to school.
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Filed under Family, Organizing
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 3:28 am
That’s what I need, a study zone free from distractions! Now if I could only find the space for it. *wink*
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 7:29 am
Wow, thanks for the links and your list. Another thing to put on that list is the “Have I signed everything,” because every morning the kids must turn in something that needs to be signed. Normally this is homework stating I saw them doing it that night. I just normally hold off until the next morning.
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 8:26 am
Kailani – Let’s see, even with no TV in the room, three kids sitting around a table doing homework will provide plenty of distractions.
Homemom3 – I do all the signing in the evening as its done. Things are too crazy in the morning to remember it.
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 11:27 am
Love these ideas!
An “Ops Book” – great idea! Nice to have everything in one place. You are more organized than I am, that’s for sure. Looking forward to all your tips on that this week!
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 1:31 pm
MamaZen – thanks for stopping in!
Randa – I have learned that getting organized in little bits and pieces makes it easier to stay that way. Plus, with three kids I have to be somewhat organized or it will be total CHAOS everyday.
wrote @ August 19th, 2007 at 4:07 pm
I love the ideas! I am 9 years old. I absolutly love the create a go-to binder!
I am going to fourth grade tis year.
Hi – love the ideas and so will my customers! Here is one to add to your “Take it a Week at a Time” – avoid clothing arguments and have your kids pick out their outfits for the week ahead on Sunday (you can even get one of those hanging closet shelves with the weekdays on it). This will also avoid the problems of wearing cowboy boots on gym day.
wrote @ August 20th, 2007 at 11:22 am
I can’t wait until my son starts school. It’s a few years away though. But these are some great ideas and I will definately remember them.
wrote @ August 21st, 2007 at 3:22 pm
Love the idea of an Ops binder – love it. At the moment all that stuff is in my head – no use at all if its me under the bus.
I do have a weekly schedule (who does what when) pinned up as a reminder for who needs which instrument on which day, who gets picked up late from school because of sports on which day, and so on – but all the other things go on The List or in The Pile. Not on the list, it doesn’t get remembered. Not in the pile, it gets lost. Sadly, even if it is in the pile, it often gets lost too. Sometimes (say it very quietly so the FlyLady can’t hear me) we have more than one pile. Or more than one list. Disastrous.
An Ops binder is just the thing – but given both of us used to be consultants, we’d probably need to call it the Programme Management Plan. It would definitely need to have a Gantt chart or two …
wrote @ August 21st, 2007 at 3:32 pm
Lisa – The clothes idea is a wonderful one!
Lucy – I love your name for it – the charts would be a nice feature too.
wrote @ August 21st, 2007 at 11:07 pm
Great tips! Routine is very impportant. Help the kids get used to it before hand. Explain to them what to expect.
wrote @ August 21st, 2007 at 11:19 pm
Great ideas Char! I really need one of those magnetic dry-erase calendars. I have a small blank one right now but there’s never enough room. I’ve tried using a personal planner over the years, but gave them up because they seemed too rigid for me. I got into the habit of carrying a squared Moleskine instead and I love it. I can jot down ideas, phone numbers, to-do lists, and even sketches without feeling like they all have to be in a certain section. A weird quirk maybe, but it works for me.
I really like the binder idea though! My son brings home so many loose papers with school lunch calendars, upcoming school events, etc. – a binder would be perfect for referring to that stuff, and reduce the clutter on my fridge.
wrote @ August 24th, 2007 at 1:41 pm
Great ideas! Not entirely new to me but I like your versions a lot better than my own. I printed the list… perfect for my 5yr old who is starting kindergarten! Now she won’t feel left out since her sister has a list. Thanks again, from your newest fan!
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wrote @ September 19th, 2007 at 11:12 am
I wanted you to know that your “My Morning Routine” chart is on the wall in our kitchen and every, single school day this month it has been used with awesome effectiveness. My five-year-old checks off everything as he goes along. Please know there is a lot of gratitude coming your way from my husband and me here in Pittsburgh, PA. Getting four kids out the door in the mornings is “complex”, let’s put it that way, and that chart has completely overhauled the chaos. Thank you sooooooooo much.
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