How to stay organized during the school year
There's a flurry of activity each school day morning. Kids must be fed, dressed and groomed. Lunches must be packed. Backpacks must be ready to go.
Sometimes the kids cooperate. Sometimes things get forgotten.
Then, there's the after school drama of hunger and homework.
Every year, parents ask each other if they have any tips to make things go smoother. Sometimes, tips are solicited after the first library book is lost or the first science project is forgotten until the night before the due date.
The following tips can help relieve some of the craziness of those 180 days.
Have a school supply drawer- Having a school supply drawer helps in two ways. Over the summer, parents can shop from it before going to the stores to gather school supplies. During the school year, it can be used to quickly replace supplies without an after-school run to the store. Simply fill the drawer with supplies from deals throughout the year and any packages with more items than were requested.
Copy the school calendar into your phone calendar- Yes, this can be time consuming, but it can prevent parents from racing to get ready when there's no school or scheduling a ob/gyn appointment on a day there's no school. Some schools do have the calendars available online in a format that can be easily downloaded into the parents' personal calendars.
Have a milk crate for each child- Kids like to dump their backpacks when they get home from school, so having a milk crate for each child can allow them to do that in an easy to find spot. Why a milk crate? It's big enough to hold a backpack, lunch box, library books, hats and other accessories kids will shed as soon as they get in the house. The crates can also easily be moved, stacked and hidden when company comes over to the house. This idea also works for student athletes, and can be used to hold their equipment in the garage or utility room.
Lay out clothes the night before- Kids are happier when they can choose what they wear, and indecisive or stubborn kids are easier to deal with when there there is no immediate deadline. Pull out that smart phone and check the weather for the next day to give guidelines, like short sleeves, long pants and hoodie. If there are any other activities that need a change of clothes or special equipment, make sure that is ready to go, too.
Make sandwiches once a week- The process may be time consuming, but it will make mornings less stressful. After grocery shopping, make all the sandwiches needed for the week, place the sandwiches in freezer bags (four fit in a gallon size), and place the bags in the freezer. The sandwiches will thaw by lunchtime. As a plus, parents who have kids who like to make sandwiches for random snacks won't have to worry about the supplies lasting for sandwiches the family needs daily.
Easy grab packing- While in lunch preparation mode, unpack all the snacks and drink boxes for lunches and place the items in bins or stack on shelves for easy grab and go packing. With this and the sandwich prep, kids can pack their own lunch each morning. Clear bins are best so it's easy to see when refills are needed.
After school snacks- Have another bin or bowl in the pantry for after school snacks. Even parents who plan to bake a fresh batch of cookies every day would benefit from this. Some afternoons are busy, and this allows for a quick decision of what to eat. This also prevents kids from using up the lunch snack supply after school.
Trays and pencil boxes- Stack-able trays with pencil boxes are a great way to make sure kids have all the supplies they need, from pencils to crayons to rulers to extra notebook paper, to complete their daily homework. Using stack-able trays means when the homework is done, the supplies can easily be hidden in a closet.
Craft supplies- Also in that closet should be craft supplies that can be organized in clear plastic shoe boxes. These supplies are helpful when there is a 3D diagram of a plant cell due tomorrow, and, of course, the child waited until today to even think about doing it. Having supplies in stock at the house means not having to run out to the store last minute. Basic supplies parents may want on hand include construction paper, pipe cleaners, paint and colored duct tape. Parents can stock up on craft items when the items go on sale.
- The containers and bins pictured were found at the Container Store and Target. Similar stores, as well as discount general stores, carry similar products.
- While it is not necessarily a school tip, another tip is to stock up on generic gifts (preferably when on sale) for kids' birthday parties. This is another way to prevent last minute shopping and save money, especially for those parties for which your kid was only invited because the entire class was invited.
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