"I can't find my sneakers!"
In our school district, every third day is gym day, which meant that every third day you used to find one of my kids scrambling around the house trying to find that rogue sneaker.
With eight kids in six different schools, life can get a little busy. Once you add in after school activities, play dates, and birthday parties, it can become chaotic if you are not prepared.
Organize The Bedrooms
First things first, getting your living spaces, and especially the bedrooms, organized is the first step toward less stressful mornings and even more peaceful evenings. A disorganized bedroom is a huge roadblock when it comes to getting out the door on time each morning.
Personally, I like to get my children involved in the organization efforts. Even my four year old can put his toys back in their place and offer ideas on what solutions will work best in his room.
There are so many options when it comes to arranging your child's belongings in order to simplify all of your lives. It is not necessary to tear down the walls and do a major overhaul. Even if your teenager's room looks like a tornado hit, there is hope. Offer to help rearrange items and get their input about different storage ideas. Making your child feel they are an important part of the decision making process will make them excited and motivated to work to keep their space clean and organized throughout the year.
Declutter All Work Spaces
There is nothing worse than hearing,“Where's my pencil?” as my kids set off to start their homework.
Encourage your children to keep their desk or work space as uncluttered as possible. Use small containers to store pens, pencils, crayons, and other supplies necessary to complete homework and projects.
A file cabinet tucked under the desk can be used to store completed projects and tests that come home from school. If you don't have room for a file cabinet, your child can use a binder to store any important papers needed to study for midterms and finals. My son has a binder dedicated to 7th grade French which he will consult this coming school year for upcoming assignments and projects.
Clean Out The Closets
Back to school season is a great time to tackle the closets. My kids like to put on a fashion show as we change out the seasonal clothes. Once we are done, we gather all the items that don’t fit anymore and pass them down to younger siblings. Anything that doesn't have a place is put into storage or donated.
If your child isn't a fan of hanging up their clothing, consider installing wire shelving. Bins or baskets placed on the shelves can be labeled with words or pictures to describe what belongs inside. I also like to hang a shoe storage bag on back of each closet door. These can be filled with socks, underwear, small toys, jewelry, and hair ties. A clean closet is great motivation to get out the door on time.
Laying out clothes the night before is a time saver each morning. I like to plan out their outfits a week at a time, so I invested in a hanging closet organizer for each child. The ones I have contain five compartments. I place one outfit (including socks and underwear) in each compartment for every day of the school week. The older children are responsible for picking out their own outfits.
Create A Family Calendar
In the kitchen, I have a large whiteboard which I converted into a calendar. This has become a lifesaver in keeping track of everyone's schedules. I make sure to write everything down -- from show and tell to dentist appointments. Our school district runs on a six day cycle, so I have each day marked with which number day it is as well. Since implementing this system, we always have our library books back on time.
Each child has been assigned a different color to make the calendar a little less cluttered. You can also color code the type of event if that makes things easier for you. All of the calendar entries are also loaded into my and my husband's mobile devices.
Prepare Meals In Advance
I like to prepare everything ahead of time, from school snacks to quick and healthy dinners.
One afternoon a week is dedicated to food prep. When I return home from the grocery store I divide up and prepackage snacks in zipper bags. I have two bins -- one for the fridge (fruits and veggies) and one for the pantry (popcorn and crackers.) The kids sit with me and help lighten my load. We form an assembly line – one opens the bags, the next fills them, and finally the last closes the bag and puts it in the right bin.
While I am at it, I cut all the veggies needed for a weeks worth soups, stir fry, and snacks. My kids are always excited to help with that task as well. Luckily, I have two slow cookers, so I am able to prepare a few meals in advance and freeze them for the week.
One trick to managing dinners on busy weeknights is to prepare a double batch of dinner on a slow night – one to eat and one to freeze. Lasagna, stuffed peppers, soups, and stews are easy to make in bulk and they freeze really well.
Pack Backpacks Before Bed
Between dinner and bath time is the perfect time to prep backpacks. After checking planners and signing homework, there's nothing left to do in the morning, with the exception of putting lunches in the bags. That way no one is running through the house looking for their binder while the clock becomes a ticking time bomb as the arrival of the bus is imminent.
Encouraging your children to play an important role in cleaning and organizing will help them feel like an important team member. These simple tasks teach them valuable life skills and will hopefully relieve some of the items on your to-do list.