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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!

7 comments:

  1. Hi Jody -
    I am very thankful that my family has passed this phase of life. Yes, it had some wonderful moments and created some awesome memories, but with our sons and their learning challenges, etc. it also always equaled challenges - galore!

    I did a posting once about the methodology I used to keep track of who had what when. You might find it helpful. You can find it here -> http://thehousethatlovebuilt.xanga.com/718661389/2-calenders--a-file-box/

    Hope your school year starts smoothly!

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  2. We are so alike. My kids laughed when I posted what 'special' they had each day by their coat hook, but they never missed returning a library book or having their gym shoes! :)

    I have a 'snack bins', too (one in the pantry, one in the fridge). I bag up the chips (or crackers, cookies, etc.) ahead of time, usually right after I get home from my grocery trip.
    Just open the big bags and divvy up into sandwich bags and throw them all in the bin. MUCH cheaper than buying the pre-packaged deals and ready to go each morning.

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  3. HI Jody! you impress me! It's hard for me to be organized at home, but I was amazingly organized for youth outings at church! One thing I did was to take a loaf of bread, PB & jelly or mayo, ham, & cheese, make the entire loaf of bread into sandwiches, wrap them individually in sandwich bags and place them all gently back into the bread bag, then place the loaves of pre-made sandwiches into the freezer. When morning lunch routine begins grab your frozen sandwiches to go. When the kids are ready for lunch the sandwiches will be too! This is also great for after school snacks, throw a few frozen sandwiches into the fridge before you leave in the morning!

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  4. Great ideas Holly and Sarah! Thanks for sharing. Cheryl, I love your marker board calendar!
    Jody

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  5. I have another tip But it's not for organizing. We keep a tub of baby wipes in the bathroom (even though our babies are big). Besides the obvious use of a baby wipe they are great as Make-up remover/ face cleaner (add your favorite facial cleaner to it)/ they clean up everything! Instead of grabbing the cleaning materials, for a quick clean up in the bathroom grab a baby wipe, they are like disposable washcloths, I really miss them when we run out!

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  6. Sarah, our 'kids' are now all in their 20's, yet I still keep a container of 'Wet Ones' in our vehicle, for oh so many reasons.

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  7. We will never grow to old for them will we! And I still get a little special feeling when I carry the pack in the store.(awww,Babies!)

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