It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Well, well, well!  Here we are!  After what we all thought was going to be the “longest summer ever,” it’s now the week before school starts!  After 3 months of late nights and lazy mornings, we need to prepare for the daily grind of getting kids up and out for school.  Here are a few suggestions to make life a little less hectic!

Have a Morning  & Afternoon Schedule:

Easier said than done, I know! Its funny how when our kids are babies and toddlers, the majority of us stick to a routine. However, as they get older, aside from a bedtime routine, most families wing it in the morning.  For my boys, they now know that the minute breakfast and their assigned kitchen chores are done (clear and wipe down table), they head  upstairs to brush teeth and get dressed. Then, it’s back down for shoes and a backpack check. In Melissa’s house, the girls get dressed, make their beds and brush their teeth, all before heading down to start the day. A sample schedule is below:

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One could argue that having an afternoon routine is just as important.  Whether your kids are home after school, or you are picking them up after work or sports practice, the minute you come in the door, have kids unpack their backpack and lunch box and school folders. Even very young kids can do this task. It teaches them to be responsible for their belongings at a young age and allows you time to pour a glass of wine  start dinner and read over school forms and homework. I have my fingers crossed for well trained high school boys, albeit with BO and smelly feet, but I’ll pick my battles.

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 Be Organized:

– Have a tray or hanging wall organizer where kids can store homework folder/papers:

Even kindergartners are instructed to unpack their folder and put it into their cubbies each morning at school, so don’t underestimate that Pavlov’s Dog effect. It’s an easy habit to repeat at home and will make YOUR life so much easier.

Homegoods and Target are great places to find organizers. Create a system that works for everyone, but be sure to put them in a central place where they can be functional for your family.  This “Hang up Home Organizer” from Thirty-One gifts that I have had for 4 years has sadly long been discontinued, but is still my most favorite thing ever!! Well, this and my “Don’t Forget Chalkboard,” but more on that in a minute. Coming from a self-proclaimed, seriously disorganized person (again, Monica here, not Melissa) these things have kept me sane and sometimes just inches a way from sneaking out of the “hot mess mom” category. A girl can dream…

Look at this clean slate… Just ready and waiting to be covered in dry erase marker notes and school special schedules next week. Just thinking about the looming stuff to keep track of is making me miss Summer already.

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Fellow PGG and mom of three Mary, recently took this blank wall in her kitchen and turned it into a complete school/ activities/appointments organization motherboard (literally)! Notice the mesh organizer on the far right wall for the kids folders. All items shown came from Michael’s, Christmas Tree Shop, Homegoods and Target each ranging from $6-$25.

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Keep a folder/pouch with a few blank checks and envelopes in your organized space so you can immediately sign and return permission slips or other forms that may require payment. Write your pediatrician’s number and your insurance information in/on it so you don’t have to go searching for the info when filling out forms. The more readily available these things are to you, the less likely you are to “get to it later” and then forget.

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– Create a homework station:

We love this one from Haverly Homebut you could easily create your own by using containers from around the house. You can even snazzy them up  like our very organized Kristen showed us a while back . Make sure to have pencils, crayons, markers, scissors (for older children), tape and glue sticks. These supplies should be separate from regular craft supplies so you will never be unprepared if things are missing right before a last-minute school project. It’s a great way to designate one consistent spot for your child to do their homework. Or, if moving around day to day is more your child’s speed, an organizational caddy  (shown below) brings everything they need to their location of choice.

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– Have a Library Book holder:

Yet again, Haverly Home has one we love, and it can be customized! Keep it in a central place so that when books are unpacked from backpacks, they have a home, and when they are read, they can go back in the slot until it’s time to return. We don’t know about you, but before this caddy joined our homes, we were lucky if the books made their way to the stairs. Usually, they were lost under a bed or behind a chair and lots of library day dramatics ensued.

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-Hang a chalk board or white board near the door that you exit out of each morning:

The evening before, transfer important notes and reminders from your calendar for the next day including what “specials” each child has. Include Mom & Dad’s reminders too! Even if you pack bags the night before, this can still serve as a handy last-minute reminder!

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– Create a Reading log station:

Are your child’s reading logs constantly getting lost or frantically filled out after the fact? Keep them on a clip board on the wall in your child’s room. Either a single for each child, or this adorable one that Melissa uses for her three girls’ shared bedroom. Target has had some cute ones in the Dollar Spot lately.

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– Manage outfits:

Plan outfits ahead of time – even just one night in advance makes a difference. This works great for younger kids who may have trouble picking out their clothing and also helps eliminate morning battles with older kids who can pick out their own outfit and have it approved ahead of time.

– Streamline lunch prep:

Make the process more efficient by keeping all supplies together. Avoid a mess like this when you haul them all out of the fridge…

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and look more like this! No more asking “who moved the cheese?!” This is especially useful for bigger kids who are taking an interest in making their own lunches.

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We all know that life is far from perfect or easy. In fact, having kids in school and juggling work and their activities can make it pretty freakin’ gritty!  Hopefully these tricks help make it all a little smoother!  We’d love to hear your back-to-school tricks of the trade! Especially because, although we have shared our tips with you, we still do not think we have our S#&T together. So, help a sister out would ya? Comment below!

~Monica  (the disorganized one) & Melissa (the organized one)

 

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