As the days get shorter and the summer winds down, thoughts inevitably turn to back-to-school preparations for families across the country. Remember that exciting feeling of shopping for new supplies you had when you were younger? The process is a lot more challenging when you’re a parent, but don’t let yourself get stressed out! Instead, use these foolproof tips and ideas to make this year’s transition better – and even fun for you and your family! It’s all about planning ahead, getting organized, and optimizing your space at home for back-to-school success.
Organize Your Home’s Entry Space
Let’s start from the beginning – one of the best places to organize for a smooth back-to-school transition is right inside your front door! Your entryway forms a transition zone from the outside world of school and works into the safe haven of your home, so keeping it tidy and practical is a must. Creating a well-organized space here will help to curb clutter and chaos from reaching the rest of the house.
Storage is the first priority. Depending on the size of your entryway, you could add some cabinetry and/or a bench with open storage underneath. This is a perfect place for shoes, baskets, or bins for storing smaller items. A designated area for removing dirty shoes will help to keep floors clean and provide an opportunity to transition calmly from outdoor to indoor. Mount plenty of hooks for coats and backpacks and organize them by labeling hooks and bins for each family member. Make it a point to have everyone get in the habit of placing their things in their assigned spots. Another option is to install a custom-made storage system with cubbies for each member of your family.
As well as storage space, an entryway is a good place for a wall organizer where you can place important paperwork like school forms and doctor’s notes. This will save you from rushing around looking for what you need before you leave the house – you can simply pick them up before you head out.
Have Designated Stations for Eating and Homework
Your kitchen/dining area is the heart of a home, but it can also be the place that is most chaotic, both in the mornings and after school. To tackle this, two must-have areas are designated breakfast/snack and homework stations. This will allow kids to set themselves up with what they need, with a minimum of assistance. You can also place these stations where they won’t get in the way of activities like cooking and cleaning up.
For your breakfast/snack station, choose a drawer, pantry shelf, or cabinet section that’s at a level your kids can reach. Ideally, choose a spot away from your cooker and kitchen sink. Stock this designated space with your kids’ favorite snacks and cereals, as well as kid-friendly tableware and utensils. You can also designate a lower fridge drawer to hold drinks, yogurts, cheese sticks, fruit, and so forth.
A kitchen corner or nook can make a great homework station, which also allows a parent to be nearby while preparing dinner. Always have the area stocked with pencils and other homework supplies. If the dining room table or kitchen counter is your only option, you could designate a simple cart on wheels or a partitioned bin as your essential homework supply station.
Set Up a Family Command Post
It’s a good idea to set up a schedule where everyone can see the week at a glance. Designate a wall space in your home and hang a calendar and bulletin board, chalk board, or dry erase board. This is where you can pin and mark to-do lists, after school activities, and schedules for each family member. This is also a good place to put a chart for chores, to keep your kids on-task.
When things get busy, communication can be an issue. A chalk or dry erase board is a great tool for jotting notes to other family members. Be sure to place it at a height that everyone in the family can reach (or have a step stool nearby).
The family command post is also a good place to mount a magazine rack for organizing incoming and outgoing mail and other important documents. This is also a good place to put permission slips, etc. if you decide not to place them in your entryway (see above).
Plan Ahead for School Clothes
Nobody enjoys the frantic morning rush! To make it easier on yourself, choose each kid’s clothing for the whole week on Sunday night. You can turn it into a fun ‘choose-your-outfit’ date with your child, giving them a chance to help select the outfits they want to wear each day of the week. You can then arrange the outfits with hanger labels, or use a closet organizer. The idea is to eliminate someone crying out “I don’t know what to wear!” five minutes before the bus arrives!
Apply the same degree of organization to clothes after they’re worn by setting up your laundry room with bins for darks, colors, and lights. You can also have designated baskets for each child that are filled with clean clothes. Make dropping off and picking up their laundry part of their chores and routines.
Create the Right Bedroom Environment
Children need a calm and tranquil space to unwind, relax, and refocus. Help keep your kid’s bedroom clutter-free by having plenty of bins, cubbies and reachable shelves for easy storage. You can also make the space more comfortable by adding a cozy rug and a reading chair or nook. It’s a good idea to try and avoid having too many electronic distractions in the bedroom, in order to promote good sleep habits. Make sure to cut off all screen time at least an hour before bedtime.
Speaking of bedtime, a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to your child’s well-being, happiness, and success. Always try to choose bedding that’s soft, free from harmful chemicals, durable, and easy to care for. Check out our Lux Collection Twin and Twin XL sheet sets and Twin duvet covers at Jennifer Adams - Back to School Collection. By creating an environment where your child can sleep well and dream well, you’re also helping to lay the foundation for a brighter future and better day ahead.