Personalized home organization
Entrepreneur, mom, & wife
With children going back to school right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how you’re going to organize this school year. Consider the age of your children and what you want them to be in charge of and what you want to be in charge of. You may want to try to help them with more independence than last year as they get older. With this information, you can create routines around the school day that work for you and your family.
Also, think about last year. Even though it was a weird year, consider what worked and what didn’t for your family. Were your children able to get their own after school snack last year because you were working at home? Did that go well? Could they still be in charge of that part of their routine? As you think about different parts of last year, use that to help create some routines this year that will serve your family well.
The key to a smooth running household is routines – both for children and parents. Think about each routine and what would work well for your family with the ages of your children.
When planning your morning routine for a school day, think about everything that needs to get done. Breakfast needs to be made, lunches need to be prepared and put into backpacks, children need to get dressed and ready for school, everyone needs to eat breakfast, backpacks need to be packed, parents need to get ready and dressed for the day, etc. Make a list of everything that needs to be done and who should be in charge of each task.
In our house with young children, I am in charge of breakfast and lunches for my children. I have actually found a rhythm with making lunches while they’re eating breakfast at the counter. I can still talk with them and they get to see what is in their lunch box. I pack my youngest’s backpack and my eldest helps with his (he’s 4 ½). My four year old is in charge of getting himself dressed, but we do it downstairs after breakfast because he sometimes needs some help. The two year old still needs help getting dressed. They, however, are in charge of bringing their backpacks to the car for school. I plan to slowly hand off different tasks as they get older to help foster more independence.
Another part of the morning to consider is before children wake it. It works for me to get up before them and get a workout in and get dressed. I wake my children up with just enough time to get ready for school and not enough time for myself at that time, so I do what I need to do for myself before they get up or (if I’m working from home that day) I leave some for after I drop them off.
Another part of the morning routine that helps in our house is our breakfast rotation. We each pick one breakfast item we’d like to have that week. This helps me not make the same thing every day and the boys not request the same thing every day (my eldest would eat peanut butter oatmeal every morning if I didn’t do this). I ask my four year old what he would like this week, offer choices for the two year old and I choose something else I’d like to make. We rotate between these options through the week to help with breakfast diversity. This could also be implemented for lunches as well so they aren’t eating the same thing every day.
The next routine that helps everything go well is the routine for after school. Again, consider what needs to be done and who should be in charge of each thing. This is the routine that works well for younger children to have some autonomy (my two year old does a lot of this with help from me).
It helps children to have a space to put everything when they get home from school. When it is the same every day, it will eventually become a habit. The first few weeks will take a lot of reminding, but eventually they will get the hang of it and you won’t have to remind them as much. During the school year, my four year old needs little reminding about what to do because he knows our routine. My two year old always takes his shoes off when he comes inside because that is what we do in our house. Having one area for shoes and backpacks makes things easier for children and helps tasks get done.
When my boys get home, they are required to take off their shoes, put their lunches on the counter and hang up their backpacks. This helps me not have backpacks and shoes all over the floor (or on the counter if they’re older). I have a bin for shoes so my youngest can do that step all on his own! He just can’t reach the counter for his lunch or the hook for his backpack without some help. Then, after that step is finished, they can get a snack. This is also a step they are in charge of. All of our acceptable snacks are within reach in the pantry for both and the older one can reach snacks in the fridge. He normally helps out his brother if they want something from the fridge. Of course, I am there to assist, but I’m normally cleaning up my items from the car from the day. It helps for them to have some independence and gives me some time to clean up so I can talk with them about their days while they each snack.
Another step you may want to add in your drop zone is a space for paper from school. Luckily, now, most communication is through email, but some will still come home in their backpacks. Also, if you have younger kids, artwork comes home all the time.
If your child brings home communication from school, have a place for this paperwork and then take time to do whatever action it requires. Then, after the action is done, the paper is either returned to school if needed or thrown away. Do not hold onto paper that has already been dealt with! Either put into your planner or computer, however you keep track of the information. I look at it right away and put the information into my phone – either my calendar or on my to do list. I take all the information I need from the paper and then recycle it. If it has always come to me in an email, I throw the paper away immediately because I have it in another place.
Young children bring home artwork all the time and you need a system to deal with it. You can put it on the fridge if your child enjoys looking at it. After you rotate through that piece, you can take a picture and throw it away or store it to go through later. I save all their artwork throughout the year in a file cabinet in my office. Then, once school is out, I go through and save only some of the artwork that I would enjoy looking back through in a file in the same cabinet. For my youngest who just turned two, I only kept art that had a handprint or picture of him on it. All of the artwork was done when he was 1-2 years old and he didn’t do much. For my four year old, I kept the same, handprints or pictures of him, as well as stories he dictated to his teacher coupled with artwork. Most items were recycled. It was easier to go through the items after the school year rather than in the moment.
The last routine to help your school days run smoothly is the evening routine. This is the time after dinner and before bed. One tip if you have young kids – get as much done before their bedtime so you’re not spending your time without them working on this routine.
The best use of this routine is to get ready for the morning. In our house, this involves cleaning up the kitchen so it’s ready for breakfast and picking out clothes for the morning (my kids care zero what they wear so I always do this) and I put them downstairs to get dressed after breakfast. In our house, this routine does not take long because I pack lunches in the morning. If it helps your morning run smoother, make lunches in the evening so all you have to do is pop them into backpacks in the morning.
Habits and routines help days run more smoothly. And finding tasks that your children can handle so you do not have to do everything. Consider different aspects of each routine and how you can make them work for your family.
Send me a DM on Instagram @wildelyorganized and let me know which routine you want to work on first this school year.
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Wildely Organized 2024
Based in Houston, TX, Wildely Organized offers compassionate, professional in-home organization services that empower families to live functional lives in a space they love.
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