Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. -John Dewey
Ah, back-to-school. You’ve purchased the pencils, books, sports supplies and musical instruments and updated the kids’ wardrobes and are excited to put away the summer toys and games that have lain around the house for weeks now. But if you’re like most households, the house will soon become a disorganized mess of homework, backpacks, and the newly purchased sports supplies and kids hop off the bus and drop their materials wherever they happen to stop. Instead of bracing yourself to put up with the mess this year, why not invest some time and thought into creating an organizational system for all those school supplies? If you get started now, it’s more likely to stick through the year and you won’t have to put up with the same mess week after week. We’ve taken the time to compile a few tips for three problem areas of most households, but don’t be afraid to get creative and use tools that suit your needs.
As one of the first rooms your kids walk into, it’s likely that this is one of the rooms that gets messy, quick. Instead, try one of these suggestions:
- Give each family member a hooks in the mudroom, where they can hang up their backpack, purse, or briefcase (and eventually their coat, once the weather changes). Use the space underneath to store their shoes, which will also help keep mud and dirt in the mudroom and not throughout the house.
- With or without a hook, use a cubby or labeled bookcase for school books and papers, and have a separate space for each kid. Keep a folder in the box with one side for forms that need signed and the other side for signed forms to return. Grabbing books for homework has never been easier, nor has collecting supplies in the morning.
- Keep sports supplies and balls in crates or containers in the mudroom. Nobody will be playing with them in the house; why bother carrying them all the way upstairs? Plus, now they’re all in one place by the door and ready to grab for a pickup football game.
Without taking the extreme measure of remodeling your kitchen, you’re going to have to make the most of the space you have, which quickly gets covered in homework, spare pens, and announcements. Instead, think about:
- Find a cute mail organizer and place it somewhere accessible on the counter. Use the different slots for forms that need signed, forms that have been signed, and announcements from the school (and anything else you get a lot of). Check it in the morning so everyone’s prepared for the day.
- If you have chairs by the counter or the island where kids will sit to do their homework, find a few over-the-chair pocket organizers, the kind that you sometimes see for car seats or couch arms. Put one on the back of each chair for extra supplies and notebooks, and label which one belongs to whom. That way, those supplies don’t end up sitting on the counter when you’re done for the night.
- Instead of crowding yet another piece of art or A+ test on the fridge, think about using display cabinet frames on a nearby wall. Made to be changed frequently, these display cabinet frames showcase their most recent achievements and store the previous tests all in the same place.
Kids’ bedrooms are stereotypically messy and the disorganization can lead to super stressful mornings trying to get out of the house. Think about what might help and if your kids are old enough, include them in the conversation; make sure to suggest:
- Make sure you have an easily accessible clothes hamper for dirty laundry. While some kids never think twice about leaving their shirt from yesterday on the floor, it’s much easier to have them clean it up if they’ve got a place to put the mess.
- Install a shelf or use some sort of storage space near the door; create a station for their backpack and anything else they need to remember the next day. It’s also a great place to put a phone charger and store a phone overnight (for the older kids, at least).
- Have one basket for each kid that stays in their room; once a week (or more often), carry it through the house and collect random papers/toys/whatever that have escaped the organizational systems you’re using (do it with them or have them do it, if they’re old enough). Return it to the room and give them a certain amount of time to put everything away (a day or so seems to work well). Get in the habit and your house is sure to stay more organized this year than any year before!