Aug 12, 2008

I can't find my shoes

It's 7:10, the bus comes in 5 minutes and my child is screaming . . . Mom, I can't find my shoes. Sound familiar?

I always look forward to a new school year. I love the feeling of a new beginning. It's the perfect time to organize your home, get on a schedule, rethink the chore chart, and set goals.

I agree that it can also be a little overwhelming. Sometimes the schedules feel stifling, the homework endless, and the carpools neverending.

With a little planning and organization you can get the school year off to a great start. I think it's helpful for every family to have a master calendar in the kitchen or some other location where the family gathers often. When notes are brought home from school, soccer practice, dance class, and the myriad other places your children are going, transfer the information to the family calendar so everyone is aware of planned activities. If you have more than one child, you can use a different color marker for each one.

To make homework more fun, prepare a healthy snack and set aside time to sit down with your children at the same time each day. Create a homework center with a box that has extra crayons, scissors, glue, markers, etc. Having the supplies on hand you need makes homework easier. Another great idea is to create a reading corner. This could simply be a corner in the kitchen with a beanbag chair or blankets and pillows. Younger children especially like this idea. It makes reading time something to look forward to--even better if you snuggle up with them to read.

A smooth school morning actually starts the night before. There are many small tasks you can perform in the evening before bed to make your morning more pleasant. You can pack lunches and put them in the refrigerator. My kids eat school lunch, but I have a friend who has a great organization system for preparing lunches. She has a drawer full of snacks, a crisper full of cut up fruits and vegetables, and a cupboard full of drinks. She has each of her children get their own lunch bag and then pick a snack, a fruit and veggie, and a drink. Then all she has to do is make sandwiches. You can even make a whole bread sack full of PB&J sandwiches, put them in the freezer, and then just pull them out as you need them.

Make sure homework is done, notes are signed and everything is put back into backpacks the night before. Then put the backpack near the door, so it's ready to grab as the kids leave and there's no last minute searching for a homework assignment, or missing piece of paper. It's also helpful to have clothes picked out the night before, including socks and those pesky shoes that always seem to be missing. This is one area where your kids can feel empowered. It is important for children to learn to make decisions. For smaller children that may not have the ability to pick a shirt and pants that actually match, you can give them the choice between two or three complete outfits.

The most beneficial evening activity I've found is to have a 15 minute family clean-up time. If the entire family works together for 15 minutes a lot can be accomplished, and it puts everyone in a better mood to wake up to a clean orderly house. Sometimes, to make it more fun we put on a CD and agree to work through two or three songs. It helps small children to know there is a specific time when they can stop working

Take the time to sit down with your family and discuss changes that could make your home more organized. Now is a great time to start. Your children deserve to leave for school in the morning from a peaceful organized atmosphere. They will have a better day, and be in a better frame of mind to learn. So start simple. Pick one thing to change and you will be well on the road to a more organized home and family . . . oh, and find those shoes!


Heather Justesen said...

Great post, Kim. I know one of my sisters insisted that she pick out her own clothes every day, so my mom rolled complete outfits together with socks and underwear when she did laundry and made my sister pick between the whole outfits to ensure they matched. It saved a lot of hassle in the long run.

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