Back to School: 5 Tips To Get Organized

Photo by  Hobby Lobby

Photo by Hobby Lobby

It's back to school for a lot of us and our kiddos, so we're bringing the experts from The Home Sanctuary, to help get us ready and stay on track. Check out their five, very tangible and do-able tips below!

Tip #1: Paper - Make some decisions immediately!

We all know kids come home with endless amounts of paper (school forms, artwork, class work, homework, calendars) and it can be so overwhelming. Over the years we have figured out a few little tips that save on the messy piles on the counter tops.

  • Have kids empty backpacks as soon as you have time to be present with them for a moment (we all know that isn’t the easiest!)
  • Write down or enter (are you a paper or digital calendar person?) any announcements or events in your calendar right away. We have all been the parent who forgot it was “free dress day” or “wear a purple shirt day”, am I right? We forgot because we initially read the information while at a stoplight or the info never even made it out of your kid’s backpack! This is why it is so important to take a few minutes each day when you can actually be present!
  • ARTWORK! Okay this can be a tricky one.  Our philosophy is unless it has a handprint or a handwritten poem by your little one-- throw it away! If you struggle with this you can always take a picture of the artwork before tossing. There are lots of great apps that you can download directly into if you want to keep the art pics together! Ie: ARTKIVE
  • Most important tip regarding tossing artwork--DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD SEE IT IN THE TRASH!! Oh my goodness, they will likely act like you have cut off a limb and we definitely want to prevent any after school meltdowns :D
  • Have a folder for each child tucked away in a convenient drawer/ cabinet to hold the artwork/papers that are keep-worthy! If you are mindful about this you will thank yourself at the end of the year. Your kids will also thank you when they are adults and you are trying to pawn off 18 boxes of school memorabilia! #nobodywantsit #nooffense

ARTKIVE App shown above 

Tip #2: Clothes/Uniforms - Plan ahead! 

When organizing clients' homes, one of the biggest struggles we see is the management of all the kids stuff, especially their clothes.  There are always missing socks, clothes shoved into random drawers, and you’re lucky if you can even see the floor!  Being moms ourselves, we know what a struggle managing this area is. You want to teach your kids to be independent and self-sufficient, so you allow your kids to put their clothes away which hopefully means they make it from the laundry basket into their drawers, and hopefully not onto the floor.  We have some suggestions to help the kids actually get the clothes into the right spot! These will also help you keep your sanity in the mornings and get out the door on time- all while helping to keep teaching your kids to be self-sufficient.

  • Use drawer dividers. We love these. You can label them to say School Clothes, Tank Tops, T Shirts, Dresses, Sweaters, etc. This way they can hang their school approved clothing items or uniforms in the correct section when putting away clothes. It’s much easier for your child to grab and go if they are just taking out of one section of their closet.  
  • File folded clothes like above so kids can see what they have inside their drawers.

  • Lay clothes out the night before. That way if there is a missing sock, you find it before you are running ten minutes late

  • Make sure all clothes in your kids closet/drawers still fit them.  We recommend doing a good clean out session with the change of every season so that you aren’t keeping clothes that haven’t fit your child in 2 years. 

  • Remember, less is the new more!  Donate, sell, pass along clothes your kids aren’t wearing or that they don’t love.  Just like with adults, extra clothes just take up space and can cause kids to feel frustrated if they don’t feel good in what they are putting on in the morning.  If they only have options they love and that fit correctly, it will help speed up their getting ready time. 

Tip #3: Supplies - Give everything a home!

Nothing is worse than being in the middle of a late night school project and not being able to find the (insert product here) that you KNOW you bought, but now can’t find.  Keeping school supplies together can be tough, especially if you have multiple people in one house using them. Here are a few tips on how to manage them:

  • Give EVERY item a home. Make sure everyone in the family knows where this home is.  For example- have one basket, drawer, or cabinet that houses extra school supplies. At our house we keep a basket that contains a pair of scissors, a few sharpened pencils, a pencil sharpener, a ruler, and one glue stick. We then also have a drawer with extra of these supplies that we replenish as needed.  The basket can be taken to whatever table my kids' choose to work at for the day, but we all know where the baskets home is at the end of the night. 
  • Give each child and family member a basket or file in a stackable file holder. That way important homework assignments that come home can be put in their “file” and then you and your child know what to look at daily to make sure the assignment is complete by the due date.  
  • Before school starts CLEAN OUT your desk or drawer or wherever you keep your extra school supplies.  Throw away broken pens, pencils, and dried out glue.  Consider buying some containers like these that will fit inside your drawers.  That way you can keep like things together and as mentioned above, every item then has a HOME.  Items are much less likely to be lost or misplaced if everyone knows where its home is.

Tip #4:  Lunches and Snacks -Make kid friendly food and snacks accessible!

Lunches and snacks are often a big struggle for a lot of parents.  My inbox is starting to fill up with tips/tricks of fun ways to spice up the school lunch routine. We are not here to give you food suggestions, but we do have a few tips on how to help keep the lunch and snack items organized and *hopefully* quick to put together.

  • Create bins of kid (and parent!) approved snacks in your pantry that you do not mind your kids accessing when they are making their lunches or coming in for an after school snack.  We suggest putting these bins at a kid friendly height so they can easily see and reach for what is inside of them.  If you don’t want them eating 20 Oreos for lunch, we don’t suggest putting those in the snack bin. #wehidethoseformomma 
  • Take bulk items out of their packages and place them in a bin.  
  • We recommend compartmentalized boxes like the one pictured below

  • Make sure lunch bags are emptied at the same time as the backpacks everyday.  Nothing is worse than finding a day old half-eaten sandwich in a lunch box.  

  • Pack lunches the day before if possible. If your child sometimes buys, sometimes brings, we suggest adding which day they are doing what on the weekly schedule (see below).

  • Do not leave lunch boxes, water bottles in the car.  Make sure they make it inside your house daily with the backpack.  

  • Consider keeping a sealed bottle of water and snack in your car for an emergency or unexpected kids practice/after school activity.  

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Tip #5:  Weekly Schedule -Keep a written schedule where the whole family can easily see it!

We CANNOT recommend this step highly enough! Keeping a weekly schedule posted where the whole family can see it is a GAME CHANGER! It does not need to be a super fancy, expensive, or elaborate system.  I personally found a Weekly Goals calendar at the Dollar Spot at Target that I keep sitting on our counter.  Kari has an adorable chalkboard that she or her daughter fill out each week. 

A few tips for maintaining it:

  • It only works if you actually use it.  Spend a few minutes every Sunday filling out your family’s schedule for the week.  This helps you wrap your brain around what your week will look like and will also helps you PLAN AHEAD for any scheduling conflicts you see (i.e. carpool, practices, doctor’s appointments, etc.). You will start your week off feeling great because you know the day-to-day plan and you eliminate the last minute frantic calls from your kids because you forgot to pick them up from soccer practice one afternoon. Another good tip when filling out your weekly calendar is to make sure you also have any reminders set on your (and if appropriate, your child’s, husband's, etc.) phone or in your paper calendar that you need to help remind you throughout the days what your daily schedule is.
  • Use different colored pens or markers for each family member.
  • We love it when your kids help complete this task of filling out the calendar because it helps them plan their week and feel prepared.  Like adults, kids usually operate best if they know what their days will look like and have time to prepare.
  • When writing out the weekly schedule it also helps to make a list of any items that are needed to be set out for each day of the week (i.e. if Monday is soccer practice make sure the soccer bag is packed with clothes, cleats, water bottle, snack, etc.) so that way Monday morning you aren’t running around the house looking for these items……..and again, ten minutes late getting out the door.  

We hope you feel prepared and ready as you say goodbye to summer and hello to the 2018-2019 school year! 

By: Katie Hilbert and Kari George - mamas, home stylists, organizers and co-owners of The Home Sanctuary.

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ready to get organized?

If you're looking for help packing up and moving out, moving in to a new place and wanting to get organized right off the bat, or your closets/garage/basement are just in need of some organizational TLC, Katie and Kari are your girls. Drop them a line at here to find out how they might be able to help you with your next project!