Summer is a nice reprieve for most families. Even if you are not home with your children during the day, there is a good chance that your schedule is slightly more relaxed. While your children may be at day care or day camp, you don’t have the added stress of homework, school papers and school gear added to your day. For most families, school will be back in session in weeks or even days. So how do you tame the excess school clutter? How you keep the backpacks, shoes, papers, folders and lunchboxes from taking over your floors and your counters? How do you get your kids to take ownership of their stuff? Follow these tips to conquer back to school organization in your home.
Create a Place for Everything
Have you ever heard it said that the best defense is a good offense? Well it is true in sports and it is true in life. The more prepared you are for your children’s school belongings, the less often you will have to panic because their stuff is all over. The best way to do this is to go through your home before school starts and set up designated places for all your children’s belongings. These are the spots your children will place their belongings in everyday.
One of the biggest causes of school clutter is your child’s backpack. Before school starts, designate a spot for your child’s backpack. I recommend hanging it somewhere near the door that use to leave for school in the morning. You can also create a cubby for the backpack or designate a spot in your child’s bedroom. The closer to the door their backpack is, the less chance they have to forget it.
Lunch boxes are another item that will often end up on your floor or your counter. So find a spot for your children’s lunch boxes as well as any accessories or utensils that they may use in their lunch box. These can be items such as a thermos, reusable silverware or ice packs. Put all of these items in a spot where your child can reach them.
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If you are constantly tripping over your child’s shoes, now is the time to tame them. As with backpacks, the best place to put shoes is near the door. A bench, cubby or shoe rack is the easiest way to store them. You can also store them in a closet or have your children keep them in their bedrooms.
School papers are one of the biggest causes of paper clutter in your home. I think our paper clutter tripled after my first child went to kindergarten. I know it will only double with my second one starting kindergarten this year. That’s why it is important to have a system for sorting school paper clutter. At the very least, store all school papers in a place where you will see them.
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If your child participates in any type of extracurricular activity such as music or sports programs, chances are they will have equipment to go with it. You will also need to find a place fo these items in your home or garage. The sooner they have a home, the less stress it will be for you.
Get Everyone Involved
The next step in keeping the after school clutter from wreaking havoc on your home is to get everyone involved. It is not enough to have designated places for your children’s stuff if the only one who puts the stuff there is you. Before school starts, gather your family together and let them know where their stuff is to be stored. Also, remind them that they are responsible for putting their stuff where it belongs when they arrive home.
Don’t let your family get in the habit of coming in, dropping all their stuff on the floor, table or counter and walking way from it. Be firm, but insistent about this. If your home is anything like mine, at least one of your kids will fight you on this often. Don’t give in. It may take a while and some coaxing, but the time and stress it will save you, will be worth it. I promise. If you have to, create a responsibility chart for your kids and put this on there. Make them earn their TV or tech time by insisting they put their stuff away first.
Every home is different so you have to create a setup that works for you and your family. At our home, we hang backpacks in the laundry room and store shoes by the front door. The school papers go in a file tray in the kitchen. No matter what systems you use and where you expect your children to store their stuff, you have to consistently use your systems.
Be consistent about using your systems everyday.
Be consistent about getting everyone involved.
Be consistent about sorting through school papers.
Be consistent about getting your children to put their stuff away.
The only way to form habits and get in good routines is to be consistent about your actions every day. If you follow these simple steps you will not become overwhelmed with school clutter. Tackling this type of clutter will go a long way towards keeping your home more organized. It will also lower your stress level and mom duties. You can conquer back to school organization in your home.
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