In this post, I'll share some clever tricks and tips for getting your home and your kiddos organized for back-to-school!
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Is anyone else excited by the slightly cooler weather we've had this week??? There have been hints of fall in the almost chilly mornings of the past few days...
The summer-to-autumn transition is my favourite time of year! Growing up, the end of August sparked my back-to-school anticipation. While other kids were relishing the last few days of a summer break gone-too-soon, I was badgering my parents to go shopping for school supplies and counting down the days until classes resumed. The smell of freshly sharpened pencils brings back so many fond memories!
I was (and still am) a huge nerd. I loved school and studying; I did ten years of post-secondary education of my own free will (well, sort of...my well-meaning, but stereotypical tiger parents may have had some sway).
This fall is a special one for our family, as my son, Owen, starts kindergarten in September. I’m both excited and nervous for him.
I find myself embroiled in an almost nesting-level desire to get everything ready for this milestone. I've been on a mad hunt for tips, tricks and tools to make starting 'big kids' school' easier for my son (and for me!).
In this post, I'll share the best tools I've come across for getting your kids and home ready for back to school.
1. A Family Calendar
Having a kid in school requires a whole other level of organization. There are homework deadlines, school trips, and PD days that are tacked onto your already busy schedule.
While I have my personal appointments stored on my phone (Timepage is my calendar app of choice), I like having a separate, physical calendar for the family schedule.
Our family calendar is part of our command centre/kid's art display. Here, we jot down things like my son's doctor's appointments and our own personal appointments that affect each other's schedules. For instance, if I have a late afternoon lash appointment that requires my husband pick my son up from daycare that day, it will go on the family calendar. I'll also make him put it in his phone and then proceed to text him three times throughout the day to remind him of it...
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2. A Backpack Landing Strip
If you’ve read my post on how to keep an organized front entryway, you’ll recall that a landing strip—the first place you set down your belongings upon entering your home----is crucial to keeping the rest of your place clutter-free. This concept is even more important when it comes to kids’ stuff. A cubby, or set of hooks they can reach themselves, is all you really need.
My son's landing strip is in our back entry/mudroom (pictured above), where he has a mini coat rack at eye level. This helps with independence during his morning routine (that, and some prodding...okay, a lot of prodding!). Bonus: this area is hidden away from our main living area, so it doesn't add to our overall sense of visual clutter.
Side note: our mudroom is in desperate need of a reno, so this is the only part of it I'll be sharing until then! Anecdotally, my son asked why they call it a 'mudroom' the other day; I told him that in our case, it is literally muddy, not just from our soiled shoes, but also from the crumbling foundation that allows water to trickle in when it rains!
If you've got more than one kiddo, something like this (via Bebe a la Mode Designs) may work well:
3. Morning Routine Motivational Aids
Speaking of getting ready in the morning...
We need to keep a very close eye on my son as he performs his morning routine. He's likely to get distracted and abandon his tasks unless we ply him with frequent reminders; it's not uncommon to find him running around with his shirt or pants half-on.
We're hoping that motivating him with a reward for sticking to his morning routine will help!
Also, I don't know about your kids, but my son seems to put his shoes on the wrong foot more often than odds alone can explain...we're talking 90% of the time. So, when I spied these educational shoe sticker aids, into my cart they went!
4. A Compartmentalized Lunch Box
Lunch boxes have come a long way since my schoolgirl days. Gone are the awkward, single compartment clunkers.
I hope I'm not dating myself too much by telling you that this was my lunch box growing up.
These have been replaced by compact, compartmentalized Bento boxes, perfect for packing a lunch with something from each food group:
The above lunch box is on it's way to us! If you've been following along for a while, you'll know how much I love parlaying my day-to-day errands into blog content!
5. A Compartmentalized Pencil Case
Tracking down an image of my childhood lunch box online, I couldn't resist doing the same for pencil cases! Does anyone else remember these pocket knife-like mechanical contraptions from the 90s??? I owned a couple of these and enjoyed playing with all of the buttons and compartments. Ah, pre-smartphone entertainment...
I have to admit, I went way (way) down the rabbit hole on this one, and may have spent the better part of an hour scouring several different Flickr group boards dedicated solely to vintage pencil cases...hello, new guilty pleasure!
Sadly, they don't seem to make these anymore. Though, given my son's fidgety nature and supernatural distractibility, it's probably for the best...
I know that kindergarten kids aren't expected to bring their own school supplies to class, but I'm tempted to get him a little pencil case, just in case.
These ones may be a bit much for the needs of a kindergartener. But, if you have older kids, compartmentalized pencil cases are where it's at! It’s never too early to indoctrinate: a place for everything and everything in it's place!
6. A Locker Organizer
Another one for me to file away for later: locker organizers.
I don't know about you, but I really could have used one of these in high school! I remember my locker being a mess of shoes piled on top of textbooks.
7. A Tidy Way To Store School Supplies At Home
Whether your kids do their homework at the kitchen table or in their rooms, having a well-organized area for their school supplies is key.
My son's just under four, so I don't yet trust him to keep markers, crayons, glue, and other implements of home destruction in his room. But, when he's old enough, I plan on repurposing the over-the-door shoe organizer in his closet, which currently houses undershirts, into something like this:
Image via: I Can Teach My Child.
If you've been following along for a while, you'll know that over-the-door shoe organizers are one of my favourite, space-saving home organization tools. We use them in our walk-in closet to store accessories and just about everything other than shoes!
Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer - $12.50 (Amazon.ca).
This is our current art supply/school supply situation:
As you may recall from my post on clever storage ideas for kids' stuff, we keep things requiring supervision way up in one of the kitchen cabinets, well out of my son's reach.
8. A Homework Organizer
Again, this is something I probably won't have to worry about for a few years. But, once your kids have homework from various subjects, it's handy to have a way to divide and conquer. This over-the-door file notebook organizer seems like a great, space-saving and clutter-minimizing way of doing it:
9. Storage For Schoolwork 'Keepers'
Of course, once that homework's graded and returned, you're going to need a place to store it. I've been researching the best way of doing this, and so far, the best solution seems to be hanging file folders within a storage box. I'm hoping that one (maybe two, max!) of these will be enough to store Owen's grade school 'keepers' for posterity.
Image via Your Vibrant Family.
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There you have it! Nine must-haves to get your home and kids organized for back to school!
If you're looking for some tips to help your kids stay on track with their homework, check out my colleague, and renowned pediatrician and parenting expert, Dr. Jen Trachtenberg's blog post on healthy homework habits for kids.
What do you do to get your home in order in the fall? Let me know in the comments below!
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