It's back-to-school time, which means it's time for everyone to get organized because your household tempo is going to change in a hurry. The little ones may resist it, so it's up to you to lead the way with five ideas to help everyone adapt to the upbeat, school-time tempo:
1. Post an oversized calendar or whiteboard to list everyone's daily schedule
Use a central spot as a “community” board, hung in a prominent place in your home. They'll get used to looking at it for specific reminders, like “Mom in class from 1 to 3 p.m.; please don't disturb unless an emergency.” They'll also be less likely to make after-school and evening plans that could put you behind a scheduling eight ball.
2. Conquer the paper mountain
Set up a simple file folder system for each child so they can put school newsletters, permission slips and other regular correspondence in a clearly labeled place you can see – and tend to – promptly. Color-code the files for each child, and train them to deposit the papers as soon as they return home from school. Be sure to include a “return” folder for each child, too.
3. Designate one central location for library books
They're far less likely to get misplaced or lost when they're confined to one spot, such as a large plastic tub or wicker basket. Buy a second tub or basket if your children frequent both school and public libraries.
4. Create cubbies
Kindergarten teachers have the right idea: keep important things in one spot to stay organized and stop panicked cries of “Where's my...?!” A mud room or laundry room is an ideal place for narrow, individual cubby closets, or even a hook with a wicker basket underneath for books, backpacks and tote bags, gym shoes and other items that must be scooped up in a hurry.
5. Set up a homework zone
This could be a great time to make use of the living room, which is often underused in many homes. Make it a “homework-friendly” place, with enough counter or desk space for everyone's computers and an appropriate supply of reference books, paper, pens, calculators and such. Toss some throw pillows and pillow rests into the scene so your homework zone resembles a welcoming dorm room rather than a classroom.
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