Last week, was Parent Orientation at the boys school which means I had to attend two separate sessions. The paper that I walked out with after those meetings was crazy, so I knew that I'd have to get an organization system in place....and quick.
Today marks the third day of school for the boys. And I'm happy to report that the system has been working well. Here's to hoping it ends up well too. Here's what's working for us to help the school year sail by smoothly:
Tame the Paper Monster
The forests are weeping at the sheer amount of paper that my family alone sees. Even baby girl brings home a pile of paper from daycare. I set up a basket in the kitchen for each kid. After school, the boys are responsible for putting papers I need to see from their backpacks into their folders. Last year, papers would end up in a pile on the dining room table or shoved into my hand as soon as we got home. This set up is working out much better. I'm going to add a folder for papers that need to be returned to school.
We don't have to be out of the house until 8:15 a.m., but I've found that pre-planning gives us a comfortable cushion so that we all aren't running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Everyone's clothes are ironed and laid out the night before (including undershirts and socks, I even make sure knots are taken out of shoes so there's no last-minute morning hassles over shoelaces). Thanks to Saturday night church, Sundays are now free. This past Sunday, I cooked three dinners for the week. That menu planning came in handy. No more stressing over what to cook with the meat I took out of the freezer. The meals are also used for my lunch (which I pack every day) and for the kids when they don't eat at school. I also pack lunches the night before so everything can just be put into lunch boxes.
Over the summer I discovered I realized I was doing too much. So the boys have more chores now. I downloaded the Chore Pad app for the iPad that lists the boys' chores. They rack up points that equal rewards like an iTunes app or a solo date with mommy or daddy. If they complete their daily chores, they get 30 minutes of electronic time. If they do extra chores after homework, they can earn extra time. I have assigned each chore that I have to a different day. It has made life so much easier. I used to start chores and then wind up in another room starting a different chore. With designated chores, I stick to the task at hand.
Give Everything a Home
We have a bench at the entrance of the house from the garage where backpacks go. The boys also have to put their shoes away and uniform pants get worn twice (if not dirty) and they have to be hung up. I also label everyTHANG: supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, uniform shirts, jackets, etc. The kids go swimming at school, so I want to ensure that they return with their uniform and not someone else's. This has saved me much heartache when I've had to go to lost and found to retrieve items they have left behind. I love my Dymo Letratag labeler, but bought the Martha Stewart no iron and weather resistant labels (for backpacks and lunch bags) this year. We'll see how they survive the school year. I also had the boys organize and label the school supplies by type. They were a bit messy for my liking, but I resisted the urge to redo the boxes and labels. The boxes are kept in our mini-office area. This way, no one is searching for pencils, crayons, scissors or glue sticks. They are all in one place.
Keep Calendars Up to Date
The boys' school post all events to a public Google calendar. I sync this with my Google calendar on my iPhone which has saved me so many times when I've forgotten about something school-related. I also post everything (school events, homework due dates and school projects) in my planner. Just so I know what's coming up. I also have a bulletin board with a section for each kid where I post things related to their class. It's mostly empty now but will fill up as the school year goes on.
This is what has been working for us so far. How do you stay organized during the school year?