Make Back-to-School Easier with These Genius Organization Hacks

Whether your kids are heading to kindergarten or high school this September, one thing is probably top of mind before they get there: getting organized. With time at a premium, going into the school year without a plan is a surefire way to spend September stressed out.

Owner of Uptown Tidy and certified Konmari Consultant, Christina Campbell, shares what parents and kids can do to make the transition to going back to school a success.

For parents:

Create a family command centre

Your family command centre — also known as a family organization board — should focus on your family’s unique needs. Tailor your centre to everyone in the house (not just the adults). Campbell says a kitchen nook makes for an ideal spot, but mudrooms, entryways, and hallways work, too.

Put a magnetic dry-erase board in an accessible place to keep track of everyone’s to-do lists, calendars, events and of course, your back-to-school supplies list. Campbell divides her board into three sections: “In the first section, I use magnetic clips for holding the family calendar, permission forms, coupons, and invitations. The second section is for weekly menu planning, grocery lists and coupons. The third section is used for each child’s daily list of chores and responsibilities.”

Set up a homework station

A homework station saves busy parents from constantly finding wayward pencils, pens, glue, and other school supplies around the house.

Campbell suggests a three-tiered cart to keep everything in order. The top tier works well for pencils, markers, rulers, erasers, and the like. Stick them in mason jars to keep the mess in check. The second tier is great for paper and notebooks, while heavier items like books can go on the bottom tier.

Lunch fix

Making school lunches is time-consuming and can quickly devolve into a last-minute scramble. To assemble lunches easily, create a school lunch station in your kitchen. Bins containing snacks, lunch bags, and water bottles all in one place can be a lifesaver. (And can help older kids prepare their own lunches easily, too.)

For kids:

Routines are key Routines work for us as adults, but they’re just as important for kids. Mapping out clear instructions in list form can help kids get familiarized with a routine and what actions like “tidying up” and “getting ready” really mean, says Campbell. Use lists — pinned to your command centre — that include specific instructions, like ‘clear breakfast dishes, make bed, get dressed,’ she suggests.

“Walk them through the routine the first few times until they get it,” she says. “When their tasks are complete, a thank you for doing their part goes a long way.”

Gamify it

Making tidying and organization a game isn’t only fun, it’s scientifically proven to motivate us (and our kids). Campbell recommends creating a daily checklist or scorecard for each family member with their required tasks. At the end of the week or month, everyone gets a reward, whether it’s a family outing to get ice cream or more screen time.

Give them space

If you don’t give kids a designated place to put their belongings, chances are it’ll end up on the floor.

“Labelled bins are one of the best and least expensive ways to keep belongings sorted and contained,” says Campbell. “One of the earliest skills children learn is sorting, so take advantage of this natural tendency.”

If you have little ones who can’t read yet, use pictures or drawings of what goes inside instead of labels.

Campbell recommends a file box with hanging folders for each kid to organize keepsakes. Assign each grade a folder, and you’ll be able to look back on memories of each year of your kid’s life for years to come.

Struggle with organization? Keep at it

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to organization is giving up too easily. Science says that a habit takes a few months to form (the exact amount of time is different for everyone). So, carve out a realistic routine at the same time every day to keep up your resolve.

“Tidying is daily practice, not a one-time event,” Campbell says. “By getting all family members involved in resetting the space at the end of each day, you’re teaching kids about having respect for their belongings and the shared family space.” And that’s worth doing.

Set your family up for a successful year and shop back-to-school supplies, organizational products and more.

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By Staples Canada

August 05, 2022