The school year is nearly here. You’ve gotten all the new clothes and your kids have finished their summer reading. You’re determined that this year you’ll keep everything organized and in place, even though it hasn’t worked yet. You know halfway through the year papers will be piled on counters and tables, after-school practices and games will become a scheduling nightmare, and you’ll find crumbs and crumpled up papers in the bottom of your child’s backpack. Instead of giving up later in the school year, get your home - and more importantly, your kitchen - organized and ready for the first day of school. Since your kitchen is the heart of your home, it’s usually one of the best rooms to use as an organized hub for your family.
Set Up a Command Center
A command center in your home is not a room full of computers and radars. Nor does it house your alter-ego costumes and spy gear. A home command center is an area where your family’s schedules, documents, and notes come together in an organized, functional, and stylish way. The kitchen is one of the best rooms to set up a command center since it’s one of the few rooms every family member uses multiple times a day.
- Find a Space - the first step in setting up your family command center is to find an area for it, most likely in the kitchen. Choose an area that is visible, easy to access, and has enough room to organize everything you need. You can use wall space, a cabinet, a pantry, or the side of your fridge.
- What Goes There - most command centers will focus around a family calendar where you and your family members can write down meetings, practices, games, and field trips. You may also want to add a cork board or whiteboard to leave notes or to-do lists. If you want to keep mail, keys, and other items in your command center, you can always hang up baskets or use bins for storage. Discuss with your family what should be part of the command center so they can all help keep it clean and organized..
- Make It Yours - use bright colors, fun fonts, and decorations to personalize your command center and make it attractive for family members to use. Label storage areas to make sure everything gets put in its proper place. Have your kids help decorate it with their artwork or have them help paint the shelves. If everyone has a hand in creating it, they’ll be more likely to use it.
Create a Homework Center
Having a designated area (away from the TV or video games) to work can help your child focus on his or her studies. By creating a study area in your kitchen, your child will have a quiet place to do homework or study for a test. All you need is a few feet of wall space or a part of a walk-in pantry.
- Set It Up - find a quiet area in the kitchen to put a small desk and chair. You can add shelves or bins for storage of binders, books, and supplies. You can hang a peg on the wall or a hook on the side of the desk to hang up your child’s backpack. If you think food will be too much of a distraction, create a bin for snack-filled plastic bags and put it in the area.
- Get Input - since your child will be the one using the homework area, get his or her input in how it should be arranged, organized, and decorated. If everything has a place that makes sense to your child, he or she will be more inclined to keep everything in its place.
- Decorate It - your child probably has to stare at blank walls at school all day long. Don’t force him or her to stare at them when doing homework too. If you can paint the wall in front of the desk, do it. Try painting it orange or purple as these colors have been shown to increase creativity and focus. Hang some creative artwork or motivational posters to help your child sit still and finish his or her homework.
Keep It Simple
Sometimes wanting to get your kitchen and the rest of your home organized results in pinning hundreds of ideas you want to try and getting overwhelmed when you try to put them in motion. Before starting any new organizational system or routine, sit down with the rest of your family and come up with options that will work best for you and your family. If everyone has a say in the matter, they’re more likely to participate. Find routines that work for everyone and stick with them. If your kids are old enough to have phones or tablets, consider using a family calendar app like Cozi instead of a wall-mounted calendar. It may be difficult in the beginning to get used to putting your mail in a different spot or having your kid hang up his backpack instead of dropping it on the floor, but eventually everyone will sync and organization will become second nature.