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Whether your children have been back to school for a few weeks or a few days, chances are you’re struggling to get into a back-to-school routine. While you may have been working with your kids to ease into a bedtime and wake-up routine, to get used to doing homework as soon as they get home, and to manage their time wisely, your efforts may have been in vain if you didn’t organize your home to support the routine. TheOrganizedMama.com points out that “the disorganization of the backpack, desk or locker was linked to poor performance in school. That’s why it’s so important to get your kids’ lives organized at home.”
Photo Find MCC offers three organizational tips to help you simplify your back-to-school routines and then maintain them throughout the school year.
1. Create a Distraction-Free Study Zone
USA Today points out that after a long day at school, kids need study and homework areas that are free from distractions. While it may be tempting to have kids do their homework at the kitchen table, that may not be an ideal spot if it’s in a central location that family members and pets walk past frequently or if it is in the vicinity of a television. Some parents find that creating a quiet, well-lit study/homework area in a den or basement is best, because it’s away from the hubbub of the home, not near distractions.
Concentrate on stocking the study/homework zone with materials kids often need to complete assignments and projects. Depending on the age of your child, you may need scissors, glue, markers, rulers, a calculator, sharpened pencils, an eraser, and other commonly used school supplies. Organize the materials and explain to your children that you expect the study and homework area to remain neat and tidy so they can get their work done quickly.
2. Create a Family Command Center
All of the routines in the world cannot save you from misplacing homework assignments or forgetting permission slips if your home is not organized with a family command center. It’s true that you should have a place for everything and keep everything in its place, especially if you are juggling multiple grades, schools and after-school activities. Designate a space in your home to put a family calendar, file folders, messages, important notes and reminders, keys and backpacks.
A well-organized family command center ensures that your kids’ activities don’t conflict and that you have time to fit in all the activities you’ve prioritized, such as family game nights and soccer practices and games.
When you do find yourself spread too thin on your family calendar, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. For example, you may need to hire an after-school babysitter if your kids get off the bus at 3:20 and you don’t get home until 4:30. Or, you may need to hire help with dog walking for the nights that you are triple-booked with after-school activities and cannot give your pet the exercise he needs.
3. Create a Lunch-Packing Station
The routine of packing lunches is much more efficient when you create a lunch-packing station. Clear out a drawer in your kitchen and stock it with sandwich bags, plastic containers, and utensils and some of the most common snacks and food staples your kids choose, such as peanut butter, pretzels, popcorn or crackers. Use a storage bin for lunch ingredients in the refrigerator and stock it with juice boxes, string cheese, fruit, lunch meat, and other items that need to be kept cold.
Work with your kids to make their lunches the night before school and guide them through making healthy eating choices using the lunch-packing station options you have included in the designated areas.
4. Have a Plan for Yourself
When you know the mornings will be hectic, preparing the night before and setting your alarm a few minutes earlier can make a big difference. For starters, when you’re corralling small children in the morning and tending to your baby, small things like wearing clothing that is functional, comfortable and looks great can help you conquer early morning obligations. Simply set out your clothes the night before so you can dress quickly. By taking a few extra minutes in the morning to yourself, whether it’s for a short meditation or a chance to drink one cup of coffee without interruption, you set the tone of your day, and it helps you to remain calm when the chaos ensues.
By organizing your home, you will support the back-to-school routine and show your children that completing their schoolwork and preparing for school ahead of time are priorities. Consider creating a distraction-free study/homework zone, a family command center, and a lunch-packing station to make your routine go more smoothly as the school year progresses.