With just three weeks until school starts for us, I can imagine that many parents like myself are getting a little stressed out. Yes this was the longest March Break and summer ever on record and we do need to get our acts together and get back to some sort of routine again. But I’m sure many of you feel the same that this year there’s heightened stress and anxiety over going back to school. I’ll be honest while I awaited back to school with joy in other years (if you know that Staples commercial I am thinking of, that’s me rejoicing at the thought of back to school), I am dreading it a bit this year. I’ve really enjoyed our time as a family but also I am a bit stressed and worried about what back to school may look like this year and about the safety of our kids.
Every year is stressful, we hate to see the summer end, and there’s the anxiety of going back. Kids are typically worried about who their teachers will be and whether their friends will be in their class. This year with very little certainty of what schools will be like when they go back it is a bit of a gong show. And the kids are feeling it too – they are feeling anxious about going back. When there is utter chaos all around me, and there’s all this uncertainty and stress, the only thing that makes me feel like I’m in control again is when I get organized and I have a plan. And in this case I am planning for all possible scenarios and everything in between!
Whether you’re sending the kids back to school in person, doing online school, homeschooling or something in between, I’m hoping I can reduce some of your stress by helping you get organized too! I’ve rounded up some tips and tricks to easily get the family organized for back to school this year, no matter what it looks like!!
- Family Calendar
Invest in an easy to use calendar where you can mark down all the activities going on every month. I recommend a blackboard or whiteboard calendar. I personally love using a whiteboard version because let’s face it, things can change and it’s such an easy way to update. Make sure you put the calendar in a place where you and everyone else in the family can see it. Another tip is to colour code the calendar for each family member! It’s an easy way to see at a glance what’s going on that day or week for that person.
We picked up this great magnetic whiteboard calendar from Amazon that we stuck on the fridge last year because we live around the kitchen. This year I’m actually taking it a bit further. Every year it gets better right? If you want something a bit nicer I really like this framed calendar from Wayfair , this framed acrylic calendar and also love the look of this modern Acrylic Family Calendar. If you want to take it down to the weekly level, love this At A Glance acrylic calendar! Whichever one you choose, I can tell you that starting to use a family calendar seriously has been a major game changer for us in keeping our family organized.
- Command Centre
Now speaking of calendars, another great tip is to create a Command Centre in your home. Now many of you are probably thinking, what the heck is that? Simply it’s an area of the house that you set up as an information station that’s equipped with everything the family needs or needs to know for the day or week. And you would customize it to your family’s needs. There may be a calendar, weekly menu planner, key rings, clock, memo chalk board or whiteboard for messages and to do lists, mail slots, homework wall folders, library book slot, charging station, grocery lists, take-out menus. The list could go on, but you get the idea!
Find an area in your house that everyone in the house sees and passes every day. I really like front hallways and kitchen areas for this. For this year specifically, many families will be creating “home school rooms” or areas in the house. This would also be a great area to have your Command Centre in. I personally love the look of the Pottery Barn Build Your Own Daily System. It is a bit pricey though and I think you could find cheaper alternatives and build your own if you scope out some sales in the desk organization sections of Michael’s and Amazon too. I also found this Whiteboard Command Centre alternative on Wayfair. Say goodbye to scattered papers and calendars and notes all over your hose and say hello to the Family Command Centre. It is such is a great way to get organized and stay organized the whole year!
- Storage, Storage, Storage!
Once the school year hits so do all the activities my kids are into…you name it, karate, gymnastics, swimming, skating, dancing, they do it all. This year may look a bit different as we’ll probably stick to only virtual and outdoor activities but regardless when they’re into so much it can be tough staying organized and knowing where all their gear is. I highly recommend get activity bins to use for each activity. Plus you can label them so the kids know what to pull out easily for that day. We also created a cubby system in our home using the Ikea Kallax bookshelf and this set of storage bins with labels. You can place it in a kids bedroom, playroom and nice enough that you could even have it as furniture in your family room or front entrance. It’s still stylish and works really well with our activity bins and keeping all our gear organized!
- Lunch Pantry Station
A huge time saver for us was around getting organized for lunch prep. Before you do anything else de-clutter and organize your pantry. Next, buy some large storage containers that you can label with kids snacks so that you can easily access them when making lunches. We really like these clear storage bins to use in the kitchen or pantry. They’re stackable and you can label them too with these fun erasable chalkboard labels!
Also invest in some easy to use lunch bento boxes that you can prepare at the beginning of the week. I really like these Bento Boxes we picked up from Amazon. We often use Sunday as a lunch prep day where we get all the snacks organized, and cut up veggies and fruit for the week. It’s really helped us get organized when pulling together lunches and has become a big time saver for us. Plus our pantry has never looked neater!
- Homework Station (or even Homeschool Room)
Setting up a homework station for the kids is a great way to give them their own space and get organized too. If you’ve decided to home school the kids this year or possibly do online learning, even more reason to set up a comfortable and bright space where the kids can focus and learn. Plus by containing homework or home schooling to one area of the house it also means less clutter all over their house.
I find if you get the kids to help set up the room or area, there won’t be as much resistance once the homework starts coming in. Find an area in the house that works for your family. It could be a communal room like the kitchen or family room if they are younger and might need help or a quieter space like a desk in their own room if they are older. Make sure the space is comfortable, functional, that there won’t be a lot of distractions and is a good spot for getting them focused.
Also ensure to equip the space with everything they need to be successful. My go to for desks and chairs is usually Ikea but often get a lot of inspiration from stores like Pottery Barn Kids, Target, West Elm and Crate & Kids. Depending on the kids’ age, include things like paper, notebooks, pencils, erasers, art supplies like scissors, glue sticks, construction paper and tape and rulers and calculators. If you have the space and the budget consider a computer and printer too. You can also include file folders and plastic storage bins to keep them organized! I really like some of these fun desk accessories for kids that they have at Pottery Barn Kids this year! But to be honest you can find a lot of great stuff at Walmart, Target, Michael’s and of course always Amazon! I usually try and take the kids with me to buy supplies but this year we’re doing online shopping together! By getting them involved I find they are more motivated to do the homework when it’s time to do it!
- The Drop Zone
No, I’m not talking about a new ride at the amusement park! I’m talking about creating an after-school drop zone for the kids. A place where they can put their backpacks, coats and lunchboxes after school vs just throwing them around the house! When you’re thinking about storage and keeping things handy also think about your front entrance. Think of how great it would be if jackets, backpacks and even what they need to take to school the next day were handy and right where you need it. While many of us wish we had houses with a mudroom, many of us just don’t have that luxury of space! So it takes getting a little creative with the space you do have! Think about converting a wall in your front hallway (or even in your closet) into a drop off area. All you would need are some hooks and labels so each child has their own. Position them low enough so that they can put and get their backpack and coat easily on their own. Include some easy shelving, a couple wall mailboxes and baskets to keep things organized. And honestly you can get as complicated on this as making your own custom shelving area or buying an actual entry storage bench like this Hall Tree Bench from Wayfair. Or you can keep it easy with some of these Command Utility Hooks that we put on the inside of our closet doors. Honestly, this has saved us a few times from tripping over those backpacks in the mad rush in the morning and in making sure we’re not running back home for the library books!
I really tried to keep it to 5 easy tips for getting organized for back to school but I couldn’t, I came up with 6. But hey, I figure we can all use all the tips we can get to help us get organized and stay organized and stress-free for the school year ahead. Let me know if you try any of these tips and what you think! Plus I’d love to hear your tips too!
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