If you have young kids at home, you know that the summertime routine is vastly different than the school year routine. Once the school year begins, it’s all about lunches, after school activities and packing backpacks.
We know life can get hectic when young kids are in school, especially for households with parents who work outside the home and kids who enjoy a variety of sports, clubs and other activities. Setting up organizational systems in your home can alleviate some of the stress of the daily routine.
Designate a zone where kids can dump their backpacks, coats and muddy rain boots as soon as they walk in the door. Make it a routine that the school day is shed before entering the home.
It’s easy for paperwork and books to quickly explode all over the home. Designate an area where homework lives and must be returned to, even if they’re not yet complete. Studies have shown that kids stay more engaged if they’re able to vary the location where they sit down for homework, so consider an open clear bin - one for each of your children - where their supplies live.
When they get home from school, your kids can remove assignments and materials and place them in the bin.
The Go Zone
Preparing everything the night before isn’t always easy, but it makes a huge difference for the morning. Keep bins in your departure zone designated for each of your children. These bins could be in the “Backpack Zone.” Establish a routine where your kids drop their backpacks in the Go Zone bins as soon as they arrive home.
As you’re prepping the night before, toss any specialty items into the departure bins, such as special school projects, uniforms, items to return or whatever else is needed for the day. If bringing lunch isn’t routine, or if you’re worried you’ll forget it, clip a pre-made card that says LUNCH to the bin on days it needs to get packed.
The Snack Zone
When kids get home from school, they’re immediately hungry! Set up a Snack Zone stocked with healthy snacks they can help themselves to. Once they’ve put their backpacks in the right spot, removed homework and settled into the house, they can grab a snack and settle down. You can then join them to talk about their day. The independence of getting settled into the house and selecting their own snack will set them up for future success, and buy you a few more moments to get other things done around the house.
Slip a plastic paper storage pouch in your kids’ backpacks. Encourage them to use this pouch for storing all loose paperwork. Make sure the pouch is emptied every day so old paperwork and assignments don’t linger, and you can pull out any forms you need to sign.
Get Your Kids’ Input
Systems are the key to an organized home, but only systems that you’ll truly use. Ask your kids what they think. Getting kids to participate and actually use the systems may be as simple as color coding bins and baskets with their favorite colors, or letting them add their own special decorations.
Spend time now getting your systems set up so that when the school year begins you’re ready to go. You can even test out the systems with practice days. Make the fun and silly to get the kids used to the idea of using these routines every day.