21 Jan 2018
Stay Organized, Stay Sane
Now that the holiday season is over, it’s time to get the kiddos back into the routine of school schedules and homework habits. Getting them back in the swing of things is a bit easier over the mid-year break, as opposed to the end of summer break, but a lot of the same principles still apply.
By staying on top of the giant hairball of school supplies, snacks, lunches, and projects, you’ll help calm the daily stress of making the bus on a chilly morning, focusing on homework assignments, and working towards good grades.
As a bonus, you will also get a jump start on spring cleaning towards the end of the school year.
Stop cleaning up school supplies strewn all across your house. Designate one closet in your household as a “school closet.” This space houses all the backpacks, text books, folders, notebooks, paper, pencils, art supplies, etc. that your kids lug back and forth from school. If you have one designated catch-all spot for everything school-related, things won’t get lost as easily. And you can close the closet door when guests come over.
Don’t just wing the sack lunch every morning. Plan it out on a calendar stuck to the front of the refrigerator or somewhere else handy. Make sure you’re providing a variety of foods where all major food groups are being covered. It’s also a good idea to plan for any extracurricular activities after school. (If your child is involved in sports, maybe a little extra protein in their lunch on practice days.)
The Sleep Foundation recommends that children aged 6-13 years need 9-11 hours of sleep a night and that teenagers aged 14-17 need 8-10 hours every night. If your child is getting up at 6am to catch the bus, plan their bedtime accordingly so that they’re fully rested for a full day of school. Research shows that an early bedtime and a consistent, soothing wind-down routine with no screen-time (laptops, phones, TVs, etc.) will lead to better sleep.
Create a snack basket that sits in the refrigerator. Take any basket, plastic container, or crate, and fill it with small snack-sized, grab-and-go baggies of high fiber cereals, nuts, pre-cut carrots, pre-cut celery, olives, and multi-grain crackers. You can also stick in individually wrapped cheese sticks, small containers of yogurt, small cartons of milk, or any other healthy snacking option you want. The ease of the grab-and-go sized containers will help cut down on messes, spills, and sugar-crash-related tantrums.
The sooner you can instill good study habits in your children, the better. Hang a wall calendar in their room or the kitchen, where they write down due dates and tests. (No more “Oh, by the way I have a project due tomorrow” freak-outs!) Whenever they have a large assignment due, get them to break it down into smaller increments and create a checklist for completing every step of the project. And don’t forget to check in with them during study time to see if they are having trouble focusing or if they need any help.
Even though the kids are in school for most of the day, they still need to help around the house. Chore charts can be used to remind them of their individual contributions without you having to stand over them and nag them to do it. Having a simple daily chore, like making the bed, helps instill a sense of discipline. It also helps to designate certain days or times (e.g. Saturday mornings) to do more involved tasks like vacuuming or laundry.
Have other ideas on how to keep kids organized throughout the school year? We’d love to hear them. And, as always, feel free to peruse our Reunion Pinterest board for other organization solutions for families.