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Getting Ready For Back-To-School

As Published In Smead Organomics
Getting Ready For Back-To-School

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

School will be back in session soon — what does that mean to you? For some folks it’s supply-shopping, P.T.A. meetings, and artwork taped to the refrigerator — for others it’s the beginning of a constant struggle to stay on top of homework, extracurricular activities, and the household chores. How on earth do you make an organized transition without everyone in the family feeling the stress? Try these tips!

Set Up A Family Calendar

With all that’s going on, there’s really only one way to avoid scheduling conflicts and last minute scrambles — and that is to set up a “family planning system.” Hang a large wall calendar in a high-traffic area of the house (kitchen seems to work well, because everyone goes in there daily). Label each family member’s activities in a different color (Suzy in blue, Mom in green, Dad in red) for easy recognition.

Then take a second to record every single upcoming activity for each person in the family — meetings, social engagements, sporting events, doctor appointments, daily chores, you name it. Every time someone brings home an invitation to a party, permission slip for a field trip, or request to bring cupcakes for the class — write it down. When the school sends out a list of upcoming days off — transfer it. If your child’s piano teacher asks if you can switch from Tuesday to Wednesday because she’ll be out of town — change the calendar. Get in the habit of putting EVERYTHING related to your family’s schedule in one place.

Prepare The Night Before

Think about how much of your AM stress is caused by rushing around at the last minute taking care of routine chores — getting ready in the morning is much easier if you start working on it the night before! Ask yourself what must happen for your kids to get out of the door on time? And how much of it can be done in advance? Have your children spend 15 minutes before they go to bed packing everything they need for school into their book bags. Ask your kids to pick out the clothes they plan to wear. Make everyone’s lunches and store them in the refrigerator overnight.

Organizing The School Supplies

Setting up a “homework center” will not only keep school supplies from taking over your living spaces, but also guarantee that your child has everything needed to complete any assignment — right at fingertip distance. This can either be stationary system near your kid’s study area, or even a portable organizer that can be taken from place to place. Set up a container (labeled, of course) for each type of supply — writing utensils, art supplies, paper, report folders, and miscellaneous equipment (scissors, rulers, protractors or whatever your child uses in class). A freestanding drawer system or rolling cart is a great option for lots of little loose items — and stacking trays work well when storing extra paper and notebooks.

Staying On Top Of The Paper Flood

One of the most effective ways to stay on top of school papers is to stem the tide before it starts! Set up a lidded plastic tub for the new school year, labeled “art/school papers.” Each time your child brings home a drawing, A+ report, or other item that you want to save — put it in the box (instead of piled all over the desk or on the floor). Then at the end of the year, you can pick your favorites to include in a scrapbook.

Back to school doesn’t have to be a time of craziness. You’ve actually got a wonderful opportunity to help your kids start building the skills they need to succeed in life as adults — take advantage of it!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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