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October 2010
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Kick the Back-to-School Chaos
Organization tips for the new school year.

With children back at school, it may seem impossible to keep track of everything that needs to be accomplished each day. The endless assignments, fliers, after-school commitments and fieldtrips may seem overwhelming, but simple organizational tips can keep even the busiest schedules in check. If you take a little time each day to stay organized and follow these simple guidelines, this can be your most efficient and stress-free school year ever.


One of the easiest ways to stay organized is to keep information about every appointment and due date in one centralized area of the house. Most children keep assignment books for their schoolwork, but it may be hard for parents to keep tabs on each child’s individual book. Wall-mounted whiteboard calendars are highly visible, and they are easy for children to use because they can be amended many times while remaining easy to read. 


Buy a separate calendar for each child and one for the family as a whole. Hanging all of the calendars together in one spot helps keep everyone in the family organized and on the same page. Each child should transfer the information from his or her assignment books, including test days, sporting events and homework assignments, to the personal calendar. The family calendar will contain information that parents need about appointments, lessons and play dates for all family members. With this information in one area, it will be easy to coordinate rides and make sure that nobody misses an after school activity. You may even want to try using a different coloured marker for each child’s events on the family calendar.


This system will only work if it is maintained, so take five minutes each day to make sure all calendars are updated. If you wait until the end of each week, some events or dates may be forgotten. The system will become second nature after a few weeks of practice.


Filing is the next secret to a happily organized house. One of the best tricks is to place a permanent folder or file on the wall near where children remove their shoes and coats. Instruct them to empty their backpacks each afternoon and place any school notices or papers that need to be read or signed in the folder. This will save you the time of searching through crumpled papers in your child’s backpacks. Any paper that has been signed should be put back into the folder for the child to collect before school the next morning. 


Planning ahead may be the best time saver of all. Packing lunches and backpacks, handing out lunch money, finding socks and shoes and laying out clothing is best done the night before school. With everything already prepared, your morning routine will be much more streamlined. Make sure that children understand how serious you are about planning ahead, or else all of the preparation will be for nothing. For example, a preplanned outfit saves no time if your child decides to search for something else to wear during the morning rush. Encourage them to stick with the prepared choices, and tell them they will have to wait for the next day to pick a new outfit. 


Another way to save time is to pick one day a week, maybe on the weekend, to prepare several meals for the week ahead. Soups, stews, pasta dishes and casseroles freeze well and make for simple heat and serve meals on busy days. Pre-cut and bagged vegetables, fruit and cheese can last in the fridge for several days. Check out www.allrecipes.com//HowTo/freezing-foods-a-real-time-saver/Detail.aspx to see some great plan-ahead recipes.


The most important thing to remember about organizing your back-to-school routine is that taking a little time each day to set things right is much more efficient than saving the sorting for the weekend. Start the year out right and make organization part of your every day routine; you will be surprised how easy it becomes to keep track of your busy life.

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