By Cynthia Ewer
Author of “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Organized”
With the start of school, families face new organizational challenges. School bells ring–and so do early-morning alarm clocks. Paper piles swell as hand-outs and homework stream into the house. This week we conclude our look at ways to keep it all under control for a smooth transition into the new year for both you and your child.
Gather your papers
School entry may require documentation from immunization records to report cards from the previous school year. Athletes need proof of medical examination. A little preparation can prevent frantic last-minute searches for a birth certificate or registration confirmation.
Call your child’s school or check the school district Web site beforehand to find out what paperwork will be required–then find it! You won’t be sorry come registration day.
Take aim on morning madness
How are school mornings in your home? Crazed and chaotic, or calm and cheerful? Plan ahead to send your schoolchildren–and yourself–out the door in a happy frame of mind.
Each evening, think ahead to the following morning; where can you lighten the load? Set the breakfast table as you clear the dinner dishes, and make sure breakfast foods are easy to reach. Lay out children’s clothing the night before. Scan backpacks or launch pad spaces for missing homework, projects or library books. Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go.
Do “bathroom wars” break out daily among the small fry? Multi-child households may need a bathroom schedule so that everyone gets equal time before the mirror.
What do you do about books and papers, lunch money and permission slips? Practice the Launch Pad concept! By creating a dedicated space for every family member, a Launch Pad gets the family out the door in record time–and organized.
Make a practice run
How will children get to school? The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes–not five–to walk to the nearest bus stop!
Before school begins, make a practice run to get children to the school on time.
If they’ll walk, help them learn the route they’ll take and note the needed time.
Car-pooling? Make sure the dry run accounts for early-morning traffic!
Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop; print and post the bus schedule to prevent a missed bus.
Spiff up household systems
A new school year quickens the tempo of family life. Sports activities, music lessons, church programs and volunteer commitments tap parental time and put new mileage on the mini-van. Get organized! Spiff up your household systems to meet autumn’s faster pace.
• Clean house … fast! Take a stab at speed cleaning and whip through household chores in record time.
• Cut time in the kitchen: create a menu plan and never again wonder “What’s for dinner?”
• Streamline dinner preparations. Try a session of freezer cooking to stock the freezer with prepared entrees for stress-free dinner on sports night.
• Conquer the paper pile-up. Set up a basic home filing system to track school paperwork, volunteer activities and household planning
Happy New School Year! Time to swing into a new school year–from an organized home.