Getting Organized for Fall

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

 

getting-ready-for-schoolFall is just around the corner and that means it’s time to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer and hello to a new routine. Juggling everybody’s schedule isn’t easy, but here are a few things you can do to help make the transition a little less stressful on the whole family.

De-clutter the house

Clutter has a way of overwhelming all of us. Take time to clear out the corners, closets and cupboards and start the new season with a clean slate.

  • Four boxes. Grab four boxes or bins or laundry baskets and label them Throw Away, Give Away, Keep and Relocate. Tackle one room at a time, distributing items into the boxes accordingly. This can takes an hour or days depending on the size of the room, but it helps make the task easier and you can deal with the clutter a box at a time.
  • Make sure it fits. Children seldom wear their clothes for more than a season or two. When cleaning out their closets, have your kids try on each item to make sure it still fits. Don’t hang on to anything that can’t be passed down to younger children, or is unlikely to be worn this fall.
  • Change seasons in your closets. It’s faster and easier for everyone to get dressed in the morning if they can find the right clothes for the season. Clear out the summer clothes from your closets and drawers, and put them away for next year. There will be some crossover, so have a smaller box handy to fill with summer items when it becomes too chilly to wear them. When it’s full, stow it with the other summer clothes.
  • Get creative with crafts. As tempting as it is, you can’t keep all the art your children created in summer camp. Instead, hold on to the projects that mean the most to you, and take pictures of your children with the things you won’t be keeping. You can put them in a photo album or have your kids put together a scrapbook. It will preserve the memories without taking up a lot of space.

Get everyone on the same page

Knowing where you need to be and when is crucial when you are trying to get into a routine. Having a visual aid in place will help each member of the family prepare for the week to come.

  • Have a family calendar in an accessible place. Assign each person a bright coloured pen or marker and have them write their activities on the calendar. It will help all of you stay on top of the routine. If you have younger children, you can use stickers for simplicity and an added fun factor.
  • Hold a weekly family meeting. Make sure each of you have an idea of what needs to be done to prepare for the week ahead, such as gathering sports equipment together or practicing a new song on the piano. It is also a good time to get input for the week’s meal plan. Discussing lunch and dinner options beforehand will lead to less mealtime meltdowns later in the week.
  • Split the chores. Give every member of the family a list of things to do over the course of the week. Whether it’s cleaning their rooms, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming carpets or cleaning the bathrooms, dividing the housework will make everyone feel involved and allow you to spend more time together when you are all at home.

Get ahead of the mess

The start of a new school year means more paper than usual, lunch boxes, and shoes and backpacks piled at the door. Stay on top of the mess with these tips:

  • Use colour-coded file folders or paper trays. Whether you decide to organize by person or by subject, dividing the paper pile up logically will help you stay focused on what needs to be done. Go through them every couple of days to ensure that nothing gets missed and you can keep your busy family on track.
  • Don’t miss important dates. Review each form or piece of paper for deadline dates to pay fees and get permission slips back to school. Mark them on your family calendar so they don’t get overlooked.
  • Give everyone their space. Use bins, hooks or shelves as designated areas for your family to place their bags, jackets and keys. Every evening, take a few minutes to put everything you will need the following day in that space. It will be easier to grab in the morning on the way out the door.
  • Easier lunch line. On Sundays, have a packing session where kids pre-pack things like cookies, small bags of peanut-free trail mix, and pre-cut veggies for the week’s lunches. Keep them in a convenient area in the pantry and fridge. This will make it easier to pack lunches in the morning. Designate a spot where the refillable lunch bags or containers can be emptied and placed at the end of every day. Ask the kids to put dirty containers in the dishwasher.

Heading back to school is an exciting time for parents and children. But it can escalate into an overwhelming time very quickly. By starting the new season off with these tips, everyone will feel more in control and successfully set for the busy days ahead.

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