4 Areas To Get Ready For Back To School

BACK TO SCHOOL REBOOT

There’s something about August where it hits me that Summer won’t last forever.  You too?  It may make you happy or sad or a combination of both, but it’s not too late to be ready for Back to School.

Let's go over what you need to do to REBOOT your home for a smooth transition back into school.  We will talk about Clothes, School Supplies, Command Centers and Launch Zones. 

 
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CLOTHES

I’ve been seeing friends on Facebook posting about going through their kids clothes and I’ve been doing it myself.  Tackling kids' clothes is definitely Step 1 in figuring out what each of your kids have and what they need for school and the change in seasons.

  1. GO THROUGH EACH CHILD'S CLOTHES:  Even the older kids can benefit from you holding up each item and asking if it stays or goes. Remove the items that are worn or don’t fit.  Have bags ready for trash and donate.
  2. BOX UP HAND ME DOWNS:  Take any items that will be handed down to another child and put them in a bin labeled with the sizes and put it into the child’s room who will next wear them.  Only keep the ones that you know they will wear.
  3. PUT DONATIONS IN THE CAR:  Take any items you will be donating and bag them up and put them in your car so they are out of your home!!  Drop them off soon at your local thrift store.  Greensboro Locals – Freedom House Thrift is a great place to donate whose focus is assisting mothers recovering from substance abuse.
  4. CREATE A SHOPPING LIST:  Make a list of what you need to purchase to fill in the wardrobe gaps. I suggest having enough clothes to cover a week without having to wash items.  And don’t forget to check on socks and underwear.  My kids forget to tell me that those items don’t fit anymore!
  5. GO SHOPPING:  Take advantage of all those sales going on.  The earlier you start, the better the selection you will have.
 
Back To School Clothes Organization
 

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

I have always loved any time of year that feels like a fresh start and Back to School is definitely one of those times!  I love seeing the school supplies show up in the stores and love that my beloved Sharpies go on sale!!

  1. GATHER YOUR LISTS:  You’ll need to start by gathering the School Supplies lists from your kids’ schools.  I’m grateful my kids are still at the same school and everything is on one page.  I keep the list in my purse so that I have it and see a great deal even if I’m not officially doing school shopping.
  2. PICK YOUR STORES:  This year I did most of our shopping at Walmart.  I like that I can find what they need at a decent price.  Some of you may have decided to purchase the kits that the schools are selling or handle it all online.  What a time saver that must be!  I haven’t pulled the trigger on that yet because I really do like shopping for this stuff.
  3. STOCK UP FOR NOW AND LATER:  While you are out shopping, take advantage of the best prices of the year and stock up on items for now & later.  Think ahead to what you end up looking for in the winter when supplies begin running low.
  4. DON'T FORGET YOURSELF:  Also, don’t forget any office supplies the adults in your home might need.  Like I said before… the Sharpies are on sale!!  It's also a good time of year to stock up on printer paper.
  5. CREATE HOMEWORK BINS:  Make each of your kids their very own Homework Bin.  A 16 quart Sterilite bin works great for this and you can fill it with all the items your kids need to handle homework whether they are in elementary, middle or high school.  Customize it for them.
 
School Supply Organization
 

COMMAND CENTERS

One of my organizing passions is creating a Command Centers and paper management systems!! This is a great time of year to tackle this project so that you will be ready for the additional paper that school brings.

  1. CALENDAR - WALL & DIGITAL: A main component of a Command Center is a wall calendar so that everyone can see what is going on.  I hang a big wall one that I find at Target or Walmart on a bulletin board in my kitchen.  Take time now to update the calendars both wall/digital/planner with all the school related dates and activity schedules so that you can plan ahead and know what’s going on.  Put something mindless on the TV, get your favorite beverage and get those dates entered.
  2. INCOMING PAPER: Alright, paperwork!  We all know that when school begins, so does lots more paperwork.  It can be challenging enough to keep up with the household papers.  It is so important to have a specific place to keep all incoming paper and other loose paper from around your house.  Train yourself and other family members to put papers here and you will only have 1 place to look for paper items when you need them.  Regularly (I’m talking weekly) going through your inbox will help you keep up with action items needing attention.  This inbox needs to be located most often in your kitchen because that is where the piles of paper naturally occur. It can be on the counter, in a cabinet, but it needs to be easy to access so that it actually gets used!
  3. ACTION PAPER: Have a plan for what to do with papers that need to be returned to school or action taken in some way.  Options can be to put them (or supervise your kids putting them) into their school folder that comes home daily. Or have a basket for each kid near your launch zone that they know to check before packing things for the day.
  4. SHORT TERM PAPER: We all have those items we need to look at periodically, but don’t need to stay in your inbox.  I recommend a Countertop File Bin with hanging files or slash pockets to keep these organized.  Things like sports schedules, medical or dental claims, church contact information, a folder for each person in your family.  Things you need access to for a few months and then will recycle or move to long term/archive storage in a more out of the way location. 
  5. KID PAPERS: I remember when my oldest was in PreK & Kindergarten how much artwork and paperwork came home.  It’s a lot less now that he’s in middle school but one thing I’ve been glad to have and use is what I call a Keeper Kit.  A plastic bin with file folders for each school year.  I keep these in my sons’ closets and we put the paper stuff we decide to keep in them 2-3 times a year.  The rest of the time, I have a stacking tray in a kitchen cabinet for each of them where we put things they think they want to keep.  Then a few times a year we go through them again and get rid of more and put the rest in the Keeper Kits.  Having specific homes for as much as possible makes getting and staying organized so much easier!!
 
Command Center Organization
 

LAUNCH ZONE

Probably one of the most important goals for the new school year is figuring out how to get out the door smoothly and calmly!!  Creating a Launch/Landing Zone is instrumental in making this happen!!  A Launch Zone is more than just a space, it’s the systems you have in place to help everyone be ready when you need to go.

  1. VISIBLE SCHEDULES: I like to start with creating some visible schedules to help kids remember what needs to get done.  This can be done with something as simple as a hand written list or a typed list with words and photos to help our kids that aren’t reading yet.  Put up multiple copies of this list so they can see what needs to happen.  When my kids were younger, I liked to keep a list in their room and in the kitchen.  These days, I like to give my kids specific times they need to be done with certain tasks in the morning.  I’m trying to train them to keep an eye on the clock.  This Mom gets stressed when we are running late so anything I can do to keep them on track, helps everything run more smoothly.  Having clear expectations and everyone on the same page is so helpful.
  2. LUNCH/SNACK STATION: Create stations to allow your kids to pack their own lunches.  This is something I’m going to be focusing on more this fall so my kids have more independence.  Set up a bin in the pantry and the fridge with single serving packs of foods your kids like so they can grab what they need for school snacks and lunch on their own.  I also suggest labels on the bins to guide them on how many to grab so they have a somewhat balanced food for the day. ;o)
  3. CREATE HOMES: What do your kids (and you) need to get out the door to meet the bus or drive to school?  Shoes, socks, backpacks, lunch bags, coats… Create homes for these things.  If you have a mud room, it might make sense to keep most of these items there.  If not, look for spots around your home like a front hall closet, dining room, laundry room.  In my home we keep backpacks in our dining room during the week hanging on the back of a chair.  Any papers or library books they need to remember are in a basket in front of the chair.  We each have a drawer in a dresser in our foyer and we keep a couple pair of socks and required belts for last minute forgetfulness.  Coats are in the front hall closet on hooks on the back of the door.  Although these things are in different spots, they are in the same general area of our house and create specific homes and everybody knows where they are. 
  4. THINK AHEAD: What can you and your kids do ahead of time to save you all some stress later?  Can you pack lunches the night before and keep in the fridge?  Lay out clothes for the next day (or the whole week)?  Pack up the backpack the night before.  Have after school activity items packed in their own bag?  Your future self will thank you for some pre-planning.
  5. BUFFER TIME: Are you tired of running late but something always seems to happen?  My trick for this is build in buffer time, especially if you are getting used to a change in routine.  That means getting up 10-15 minutes earlier – I even get my kids up about an hour before we need to leave so that they can move slowly and we still can get out on time.  None of us in my family do well when we are rushing.  Meltdowns seem to happen and mom’s mean voice comes out, lol.  Try it for a week and see if it helps your family out.
 
Create a Launch Zone
 

What works well for your family in getting ready for school?  What are the things you find most challenging?

Sometimes a Smaller Space Isn't So Bad

A year ago, our guest room was downstairs with a great medium sized walk in closet.  It had an odd angle on one side which made organizing it a bit of a challenge.  However, over time and with several graph paper drawings, I planned and installed adjustable shelving (with very minimal help, I might add!).  It’s a project I am really proud of.  I used this space for years to store my extensive craft supplies, photos, seasonal decor and memorabilia boxes from my younger years. I planned out every area to maximize its usefulness and it was a great space! 

Here are a few pictures of the closet, including the funky triangular corner that caused me to have to think a little outside of the box.  

Several years later we played some “musical chairs” with a few spaces in our house.  Part of that included moving the guest room upstairs as well as all my craft supplies to another, MUCH smaller closet.  See, it’s TINY!!!  But I did take advantage of the clean slate to paint it a pretty color!

The biggest surprise to me was that I would come to LOVE this smaller closet!

Do you know why I loved it?  It forced me to go through all my stuff! 

It made me get real with myself about whether I would use the craft supplies I had or figure out if I was keeping them for my “fantasy self”.  You know that person, the one that will accomplish every idea you come up with, every pinned craft project, that’s my fantasy self. :o)  Recognizing this, made it easier to let go of quite a bit of stuff.

Other items fell more into the memorabilia category and I had to ask myself the hard questions about why I was keeping it and was it worth the space.  In situations like this, making lots of decisions can get overwhelming, even for me, since these are items I have personal attachments to.  To help with this, I did it in small chunks of time over several days. I guide others through this process, but it’s easier with someone else’s stuff since I have no attachments to it.  That is a great benefit of having a friend or a professional organizer work with you - objectivity. 

My first closet contained a lot of different types of items.  So, I went through it category by category

First, I reviewed ALL the craft supplies.  I used to do a lot of card making and had loads and loads of stamps and other supplies related to that hobby.  Turns out at this point in my life, I rarely used my stamps and my boys just weren’t interested in my selection.  For my knitting, painting, sewing, and pretty paper supplies, I decided the amount of space I was willing to dedicate to them, found containers that fit the space and only kept what would fit in those containers.

The larger closet was also home to many notebooks from college and massage school which was now decades (how is that possible!) ago.  I said goodbye to all but my Anatomy book.  I even shredded my college report cards!!  Turns out I prefer the false memory of my grades, rather than the reality, lol.  I also went through my favorite books from over the years and passed some onto the boys, kept some and donated the rest.  The keepers are now located in a bin that fits under the guest room bed.

Then I reviewed years of photos and got rid of soo many bad ones.  I separated them by categories and boxed them up in matching photo boxes.  A smaller space and less stuff meant I could splurge on getting matching containers!

I loved the closet system that I used downstairs so much that I used the same style in this closet.  I love having adjustable shelves!  This closet also has a strange angle inside it which made me have to use rather narrow shelves.  It pushed me to think outside of the box again to make that angled wall useful.  I added plastic drawers and a tiered “pantry” shelf to hold paint supplies.

Here’s a few views of the new set up.  I love the way it looks and everything I need is easily accessible!

Do you have a fantasy self? 

What is she holding onto??

Are your Grand Visions actually holding you back?

 
 

Hi there,

When I was growing up, my dad and I would get these big ideas we called, “Grand Visions”.  We’d spend hours talking about them, planning them step by step.  I remember during one road trip, we made a list of over 100 items we needed to fix at our house to make it PERFECT.

Obviously my dad and I both have perfectionistic tendencies. It’s a struggle, lol.  We often get stuck in “planning” mode and don’t move forward into “getting it done” mode.  Thank goodness for my mom!  She’s great at getting things done and not letting perfection be the enemy of good enough.

Do you ever feel like that in your world?  Do you think you have to get 100% organized in 100% of your home?  I’ve been there.  I finally realized that it wasn’t doable and in the brief moments it was all clean, tidy, organized, I wasn’t happy, anyway.  I was actually stressed out waiting for things to unravel. 

I now approach organizing as a continuum.  Some places in my home I like to keep tidier and others I allow life to happen a bit.  I consider myself to be generally organized, but no Martha Stewart.  I can find my keys, but don’t always put my craft items away right after I use them. 

I discovered that if I let myself get caught up in the Grand Vision of things, I’ll never start anything. If this sounds familiar, consider trading your Grand Visions for making progress and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it.   By removing the expectation of 100% perfection, you are open to take small steps each day that lead to results that are good enough.

SOME THINGS TO TRY

 1. Just start!  Pick a small drawer or cabinet or section and clear it out and straighten it to look nice and work efficiently.  You may find yourself just walking by to admire your work!

 
 

2. Create a home for incoming paperwork in your kitchen.  Just a basket or bin wherever paperwork seems to pile up on the counters.

 
 

3. Create a hot drink station inside a kitchen cabinet near your coffeemaker/Keurig/stovetop…

 
 

4. Start small.  Set your timer for 10 minutes and clear out and straighten your junk drawer or makeup drawer.

 
 

So here is my big advice to you:

 
 

What have your “Grand Visions” held you back from accomplishing?