Whether your child has already gone back to school or you’re still enjoying the last few days of summer (lucky you!), the key to heading into the school year successfully is getting — and staying organized. You’ll be amazed at how much more smoothly homework, carpool schedules, packing lunchboxes and keeping teachers meetings will all go if you’re an organizational wizard. And when you have more than one kid? It’s imperative to get organized even before classes begin. Who wants to waste time searching for forms and lists when a deadline or meeting is staring you in the face?
I rely on a shared family calendar, synced with my laptop and smartphone to keep me in line. I even set an alarm before I need to take them to their after school activities so I don’t forget! I keep files for each of my children. I’m fairly organized, but I admit I still haven’t reached an organizational zen state. But I’m doing a little better each year, thanks to great ideas from other moms and bloggers.
Here are ten things I’m doing this year on my journey toward total color-coded labeled and alphabetically-ordered domestic bliss:
1. Clean out the closets.
Full time working mom Diana Limongi Gabriele likes to do a late summer cleaning to save time and have everything organized by the time her son goes back to preschool. “I think getting closets ready before school starts, like seeing what doesn’t fit, putting away summer clothes, even going through books kids might have outgrown, allows you to have one less thing to do.”
2. Reuse, repurpose and divide to conquer.
Busy mom and fashion blogger Dee Trillo has a very effective strategy to save money and keep organized. “I’m huge on recycling, so I try to reuse or repurpose notebooks, folders, binders, and all sort of supplies. I divide everything in sections and by colors.”
3. Remember: there’s an app for that!
Tech expert and mom Leticia Barr reminds us that there are many apps and websites to make things easier on ourselves. “Parents can use services like PayPal to complete online shopping for apparel and school supplies at favorite retailers like Lands’ End and Walmart, streamline family scheduling with a shared Cozi or Google Calendar, stay organized with apps like Evernote that always keeps your thoughts at the tips of your fingertips, and even use Facebook Groups to communicate with fellow parents at school, sports teams, or within the neighborhood.” Seems overwhelming, but I have found that technology can be a busy mom’s best friend.
4. Practice makes perfect.
Parenting and travel blogger Caroline Theye Murphy swears by practicing the morning routine ahead of time. Before vacation ends, she recommends “setting the alarm and getting the kids back to the school time clock!” You can begin by adjusting bedtime in 15 minute increments; it certainly helped my kids get used to going to bed earlier.
5. Have a binder for each child.
PR maven Janice Lusky Greenspan plans ahead and it works. “I have a different color binder for each child with their schedule, supply lists, then I add projects, school info, log in info, etc. as the year goes on.” Despite being so organized, she is still wondering how many days until Winter Break.
6. Have an electronic file.
Multitasking mom-of-three Lindsay Maines has learned that it’s handy to have each child’s forms saved electronically. “When all those crazy forms come from school, scan them and save them as a PDF. I have a folder for each kid on my computer and print and send the same emergency contact, etc. each year — nothing has changed with us in ten years, and with three kids, it saves some time.”
7. Buy in bulk.
If your child wears a uniform, do like Sunny Andersen Chanel does: “I order more white shirts, white socks and blue leggings than I need to because they will get stained or torn within weeks!” That’s a huge time saver.
8. Keep a weekly calendar.
Jordana Manzano, who has three children, uses a poster-size weekly calendar. “We use Post It’s for play dates and random once-a-time events” explains this busy mom.
9. Make a caddy for each child.
Mom of four and writer Ciaran Blumenfeld makes a homework caddy for each kid with pens, pencils, scissors, tape, rulers, paper and other supplies. “It’s where the weekly assignments, folders and permission slips go. It also makes it easy to bring homework to any room where parents or helpers are working,” she says.
10. Prepare backpacks at night.
This is a time saver in the morning. No matter how tired I am at night, I always check my children’s backpacks before going to sleep. Not only will you find forms, reading logs or tests that might need your signature, but you’ll know that there will be no last minute requests right when you need to rush out the door.
Image at top: Thinkstock
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