Your Family's Most Organized School Year Yet
I'm not gonna lie...all summer I look forward to back-to-school. It's nice to have the kids on a routine, and let's face it, it's nice to have some time with a quiet house. But as it gets closer and closer to actually being here, back-to-school gives me a little anxiety. I'm imagining rushed mornings and busy evenings. Pictured: Let's Do This Mug by Fine and Dandy Paperie
But given an organized home, back to school can in fact offer more time to relax with my honey, watching our favorite shows while they're off to bed, and enjoying a quiet house in the morning after they get on the bus...and yes, of course some nice family time with all of us together. I really want to get in the habit of a family breakfast once a week and a family dinner a few evenings. And with a little organization beforehand, I know everything will run much more smoothly. Here are six ways I plan to have a more organized school year, so we can all get the most out of our time and stress less.
|White Entryway Cubbie Shelf|
1. Have a Place for Everything. Backpacks, shoes, school papers - anything that tends to cause a rush in the morning. Whether you find yourself hunting for lunch boxes every morning or find your kids running late because they've lost their shoes again, tailor your organization to their weaknesses and have them plan things like outfits and homework folders the evening before. In fact, add that to their daily checklist on a chore chart so they don't forget. (We'll talk about that chore chart a little later.)
I love these day of the week hanging organizers for outfits, which is also a great way to ensure they have clean clothes for the whole week. And one day I will have one of these handy mud room organizers with hooks for their backpacks and coats and cubbies for their shoes.
2. Plan Your Meals and in Advance. Meal planning can keep a household running much more smoothly. When you're tired after work and needing time to relax, it's not the time you want to find you're completely out of toilet paper and don't have anything for dinner. I used to be so on top of this, but have to admit that since moving in with my fiance and blending families, I haven't gotten into a groove yet, partly because of my bad back and partly because of poor planning. Hopefully with the start of this school year, I'll get into a smoother schedule with this. Using a meal planner to plan dinners in advance, and keeping a regular shopping list, make the task much easier to accomplish.
|Magnetic Weekly Meal Planner >>|
In the past, I've also found that keeping a shopping list on the fridge makes it easy for everyone to help out. For example, if one of the kiddos uses up the last of the milk, the could immediately add it to the list, so I wouldn't have to spend extra time taking stock of inventory on those regularly used items. I really like this Knock Knock All Out Of Pad, because it literally is like an inventory checklist, with all of those commonly used items already listed, with a check box next to each item.
And if you have the same meals regularly planned, like taco Tuesday, for example, you can reuse the same list and get several things in bulk. Purchasing the same items on a regular basis can also make shopping easier with subscription plans and shopping services like the new Amazon Pantry.
Whether you plan to try Amazon Pantry or not, you can set items like toilet paper, for example, to automatically reorder with the Subscribe and Save feature. You can also create multiple pantry shopping lists on Amazon. For example, you could create a weekly list for frequently used items, and a monthly list for items like toilet paper in bulk, pet supplies, and cleaning supplies.
3. Make A Chore Chart. This is something my fiance and I plan to do this fall, for the first time since we've blended our families. I like to use a daily checklist per child and a master checklist for weekly chores, or perhaps a chore chart like this one that has room for a daily checklist for up to four children. In addition to allowance for completed chores, perhaps we can give extra little rewards each week for munchkins who have been extra helpful and have had good attitudes. I think it's important to teach kids not just to do the work, but to do quality work and to do it with a good attitude. I mean, would your boss want to pay you if every time you were given a task, you whined "Uuuugh, do I HAVE too??" These are life skills they need to learn, and the sooner the better.
I'll make a separate post about it after we've set up our own family's chore chart. I've done it before with my girls, and it's a great way to keep things running more smoothly. When everyone has their own task assigned, not only do things stay maintained much better, but after a while, it definitely cuts down on nagging and whining...can I get a hallelujah?!
|Magnetic Dry Erase Chore Chart|
4. Have a Specific Time (and Deadline) for Tasks. For those chores I just mentioned above, and dinner, showers, homework, etc. When things are scheduled, they are so much more likely to get done. My oldest daughter was constantly forgetting to do her homework last year, so this year I plan to have a set "homework time," so she won't be working on long division problem into the wee hours of the night.
I would much rather be a cool mom who doesn't micromanage the evenings, but I would also like to sit my ass down on the couch with a glass of wine and my fiance and the latest episode of whichever shows we're currently into. The best way to accomplish that is to know that homework will be done before dinner and that showers will be done after dinner and that all of the kids will be in bed by 9 pm. They don't have to be asleep by nine, but they do have to be in bed with the big lights out, and with the kitchen officially closed.
5. Create A Master Calendar. This is something else I've yet to incorporate into our family, but I would like to. I've seen busy families with multiple children benefit immensely from this set up. With varying work schedules and kids who each have their own schedules - It just makes everything easier to schedule when you can see everything on one calendar; including work, doctor's appointments, school schedules, and fun things like date nights or time with friends. If you don't have the space for a large one, try a monthly calendar for important dates, and pair it with a weekly calendar to include work schedules, school and sporting events, etc.
|Chalkboard Monthly Calendar Wall Decal|
|Dry Erase Magnetic Weekly Calendar for the Fridge|
It's also a great way to schedule in things that don't necessarily have to be done, but that you want to make time for. For example, this last week, my family had several extra things added onto our plates, and because of that, my fiance and I almost didn't make enough time for each other. This can also go in the other direction, when we do get our date nights, but then other things get added onto the list, and we wind up running out of family time with the kids. It can really help you prioritize the things you want to do if it's part of your overall schedule. A new exercise program, for example, will suggest having specific days and times set aside for your workouts, because you're much more likely to make something a priority if it's a regular part of your routine. Like a day of the week for a date with your spouse, or a night for family dinners, etc.
*For older kids, consider getting them their own planners in addition to the family calendar, so they can start learning how to prioritize their time on their own, and so they can keep better track of projects due, big tests, band practice, etc.
6. Just Do Less. I know...that's not quite as inspiring as saying "Just Do It" or "Go for It", but if you're running around to multiple sporting events, practices, etc. several times a week, and find that your family is always rushing and always tired, well what are you actually getting out of all of that? If you and your family truly enjoy it, great! But if not, scale it back. My kids are welcome to be in as many clubs and sports as they want when they can drive themselves, but until then, I'm simply not going to chauffeur them around every day of the week at the expense of time with my fiance and time for myself. Some people might call that selfish, but I call it balancing priorities (and staying sane), which will ultimately lead to me being a much better and much less cranky parent and spouse.
Don't think of it as not doing as much as you should, but rather think of it as editing your life...budgeting your time, in order to make it the best it can be. You need to edit it down so that the things you make time for are the things that truly matter and so the times you spend with loved ones isn't divided and distracted by other things.
This is where the master calendar and a weekly schedule come in handy. It's hard to say no to invites and events (and it can be hard to say no to kids too), but if you've got the master calendar in sight, with everything you already have planned for the week in plain sight, you can make much more wise decisions. And don't forget to have days where you plan on doing nothing. Again, it's easy to get caught up in a busy schedule when you've got a big family, but some weeks there just won't be time for everything, so something's gotta give. You have to prioritize, and part of your weekly priorities should include family time, time for yourself, time to unwind, and time with your partner. You simply don't have to be busy ALL the time, and it's okay to say no to social invites for the mere fact that you're tired and would rather have a night at home on the couch with your honey and a glass of wine.
That being said, it's a good way to prioritize time with friends as well. If I could see on a calendar how little I've made time for friends the last few months, I bet I would make more of an effort to schedule it in very soon. Color coding that master calendar would be a great way to get an indication at a glance at where you're spending most of your time. But for tonight, however, I fully intend to enjoy some more couch time with my love.
This may all seem like a lot of work, but take it in small steps. And trust me, with a bit of extra work to get organized beforehand, you really will end up with more time and less stress. Have a wonderful new school year!:)