Updated: Jan 27
Back-to-school is almost here! I'm ready, and I have been for weeks. As someone who thrives on consistency and set schedules, I'm at my limit with our willy-nilly summer schedule. It was fun while it lastest, but I'm ready for more structure and routines. And honestly, so are my kids.
Like every new school year, I know my kids will have a bit of post-summer vacation anxiety. So, with school still three and a half weeks out, I'm starting to prep and organize for our new schedules, routines, and transitions. Some might think I'm prepping early, but since we've completely abandoned our school routines and systems for the last 12 weeks, it will take me a fair amount of time to get things back on track. Plus, I don't want to feel frantic and in chaos during the first few weeks of school. If I'm calm, my kids are calm.
Here are my six tips and recommendations for making your morning, afterschool, and evening routines more efficient and peaceful.
Make space. Start decluttering the areas that support your child's routines and transitions — areas like a laundry room, mudroom, entryway closet, kitchen, pantry, toy cupboards, and kid's bedroom closet and dresser. Go through all the toys, books, games, and art supplies and decide what you can donate, recycle, or send to the trash. The goal is to clear out the stuff you don't use or that doesn't serve a purpose so you can make space for the upcoming school year. Here are a few more tips that help you declutter.
Embrace natural routines. When organizing, create systems that support your children's natural habits and routines, and avoid implementing anything that requires a radical change. Here's an example. If your kids will not hang up their coats but naturally throw them in front of the closet, why not put hooks on the closet door so that they can drop their coats on a hook instead of on the floor? By implementing organizing solutions that embrace natural behaviors, you'll have longevity in the organizing systems.
Buy organizing products last. When we're eager to organize, we often rush to Target or The Container Store and start buying all the bins and baskets, only to find out it's the wrong size or type of containment, and our items never get properly organized. Incorporating the right organizing products makes a big difference in increasing space and function. They also help with creating containment and boundaries. BUT, you'll need to do the prep work to ensure you buy projects that will work for your space long-term. Start by decluttering, then determine where all the items will live (I call this "home base"). Next, take measurements of your space and make a list of everything you want to contain. Now, you're ready to start buying products. When you save the buying for last, it helps you pinpoint the size, shape, placement, and usage, and often you realize you can repurpose and use items you may already have
Function over perfection. This one can be hard, especially if we want our space to look a certain way. But remember, the goal is to make routines efficient and chaos-free for you and your kiddos, so remember, functionality comes over perfection. This mindset means you don't have to stress when a shoe storage bin is on your porch instead of in your hallway closet. Or when jackets get hung up on hooks outside the closet and not on hangers inside the closet.
Clean up and prep every night. Take a few minutes every night to clean up and prep for the morning routines. I call this "putting the room to bed." Things you can do the night before include prepping breakfast, packing lunches and snacks, setting out backpacks and water bottles, and laying out outfits. This simple task will make your future self happy and efficient. Additionally, it's a surefire way to start the morning fresh because we do not have to play catch up from yesterday's mess. You can get everyone out the door in a calm and timely manner.
Ask for help. Life with children is busy and chaotic; therefore, time is never on our side. Even when intentions are high, we fall behind. So it's absolutely okay to ask for help to get back on track. Unfortunately, the impression the organizing industry and social media portray is that it is easy to get organized. I'm here to tell you it's not. Resetting and getting your home organized is a process. It's nothing like the 30-minute segment you see on TV. It takes time, and it's a process. I discuss more about the time involved here and the process here. So if you've attempted to get a space organized and it didn't work out as planned, please don't get discouraged.
Even if your school has already started and you haven't had a chance to do your back-to-school prep work, it's never too late to do an organizing reset. Plus, I can help you. Check out my Instagram page for more organizing tips, recommendations, and transformations.