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Friday, September 2, 2011

Back to School Organization

It is hard to believe how fast the summer has gone, but here we are! In the midst of all of the chaos, I find a bit of planning keeps me sane. I like to start my back-to-school shopping as soon as the signs go up in July so that I can be picky and search for the best deals. A master list was my friend this year, with three kids lists to juggle. With all the shopping now behind me and one week to go before the big event (first day of school), its time to prepare the house! :)  Here's what I've done!

      1.     Prepare the landing zone. You know, the place where the kiddos come in and unload on. We have a small entry way so maximizing this space is key. All of the shoes go into shoe baskets. Coats on hooks at their level just inside the closet door. And backpacks go inside the hutch cabinet. On the bottom shelf, below the backpacks we keep school and church library books.

     2.     Paper storage. I've always said that I need a secretary just to manage all of the school papers. Since that's not in the budget, we're going with plan B. Homework gets done right after the after school snack, and papers go right back into their backpacks. Papers that include school letters, upcoming projects, field trip info, etc., go in these plastic drawers, each with their name. Spelling lists get taped to the front of a kitchen cabinet so that we can practice throughout the week. On the inside of this cabinet I have a list of their schedules (which day is library, gym, art, etc.)

Once all four are in school I will be looking for one of these babies from Ballard Designs:

     3.     Lunch prep. I have worked out a sweet deal with my hubby. He makes the sandwiches for the kids lunches and I pack the goodies. This works well for us because I dislike sandwich prep completely! To make things easy (and probably a little healthier), each of the kids has their own water bottle that I fill up each morning. I keep stocked a snack bin. Anything packaged that comes in a box gets dumped out into the bin so that they can be easily grabbed. I'm too cheap to splurge on prepackaged chips, so this is the only item I have to bag in the morning. Fruit is always easy to throw in as well.

     4.     Keeping kids on task. I work outside of the home 2 days a  week, so I am gone in the morning before the kids leave. With my hubby trying to get himself ready for work we have come up with a system that works for us. First, I always lay out the kids clothes the night before and I put them in the same place every day. Second, backpacks are packed up with everything but their lunches and put by the door. Third, the kids each have a laminated cue card that lists the expectations for each morning. After the first month they no longer need to look at their cards, but when we come home after school if a step was missed (like not making their bed) they don't get to play outside. The list includes: eat breakfast, take care of dishes, wash face, brush teeth, get dressed, comb hair, make bed, and pick up bedroom. A copy is also put on the wall in their bathroom to reference if they don't have their cue card. To keep things consistent, these things are expected each day during the summer and breaks too.

This is not a list of the best ideas that will work for everyone, this is a list of what works for us. I hope that one or two of these ideas might work for you too. I would love to have you leave me a comment of an idea that I haven't included that works for you!

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