Here in the northeast the summer weather has been glorious! There have been hardly any days above 90 degrees and it rained often enough that I didn’t need to water the plants outside, a first for me since moving to my house 18 years ago. Hey, we earned it! This past winter was really brutal.
The start of a new school year is upon us. It can be an unsettling time for children going to school for the first time or for a returning student. To make the transition from summer to school a smooth one, here are my top 19 tips.
Set a positive frame of mind:
- Remind kids of their school friends and the opportunity to make new ones.
- Relive fun experiences such as a favorite class trip or special project.
- Spend time together to buy needed supplies and clothes.
- Let your child choose what s/he likes and override decisions only if absolutely necessary. From my experience organizing kids and adults, people are much more likely to use tools they like and ignore those they don’t.
- Give older kids a budget and let them choose supplies and clothes – teaches them responsibility.
Re-establish the routine a week before school starts:
- Have kids go to bed and wake up according to their school schedule.
- Have them select outfits for the next day the evening before.
- You or your children (if old enough) prepare lunch the day before to minimize the morning rush.
- Have kids eat breakfast and get out of the house for an activity or a walk to get them moving.
- Start limiting TV and phone/computer time a little bit more each day.
- Get the school calendar and transfer information to the family calendar so everyone’s on the same page (get it?).
Once school starts:
- Have a dedicated homework spot with a good-size desk or table, supplies and adequate lighting.
- Establish a routine for activities, homework, bathing, TV/digital device and bedtime/wake-up time, and note the schedule on the family calendar.
- Be realistic about the amount of time it takes from waking up to out the door – underestimating is a common mistake that creates frenetic, stressful mornings.
- Teach kids to manage their own backpacks.
- Keep basic school supplies on hand to avoid the last-minute rush to the store.
- Have a landing spot for your kids’ backpacks, footwear, outerwear and sports gear in the mudroom, foyer or other space. Having them (not you) hang up coats, put away shoes, organize backpacks and homework teaches them responsibility. Give gentle reminders as needed until their routines are established.
- Teach older kids time management using a week-at-a-glance planner (paper or electronic, whichever is their preference) for appointments, activities, test dates and so on. Each day review the next day to see what’s coming up and, on Sundays, review the week ahead.
- For young children, a six-shelf hanging sweater organizer can hold their clothes for the week. On Sundays you can put outfits for Monday through Friday on each of five shelves, and either weekend clothes or shoes and socks on the sixth shelf. See the image below. Click on The Container Store to order or for more information.
Establishing a healthy routine for your kids means a lot less stress for them — and for you!
PRODUCTS OF THE MONTH
Ignore No More
You text your child. You leave voicemails. Repeatedly. No response. Your blood pressure rises with each unanswered contact. Guess what? There’s a new app that will get your kid’s attention and call you back immediately! It’s called Ignore No More. It was developed by Sharon Standifird, a mom who was livid that her son ignored her calls and texts. The app allows parents to remotely lock their child’s phone and the child cannot disable the app. That means no calls (but emergency calls will go through), texts, gaming, Facebook or anything else until the child contacts the parent to unlock the phone. It’s currently available on Android for $1.99; an iPhone version is being developed. For more information, click here. Cool, huh?
Similar to Ignore No More, the free DinnerTime app gives parents some control of their child’s device. They can set it to lock up to two devices for set periods of time for dinner (of course!), bedtime and breaks. Parents also can shorten the set periods of time, say if dinner ends early. If parents want to get reports of their child’s device usage and have control for up to five devices (instead of DinnerTime’s two-device maximum), there’s the DinnerTime Plus app for $1.99.
For either app, the parent’s device can be Android or iPhone but the child’s device must be Android due to restrictions with Apple’s mobile iOS. Like Ignore No More, the child cannot delete the app, and can get and receive emergency calls when the device is locked. For information or to download the app, click on dinnertimeapp.com. To learn more about DinnerTime, see this helpful article on cnet.com.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius
My Upcoming Engagements
Saturday, September 13 — Co-presenter at Women’s Independence Network’s (WIN) monthly workshop for women in transition due to divorce or widowhood. Tons of information, advice and resources are given by a divorce attorney, estate planning attorney, therapist, divorce coach, financial planner and, as the professional organizer, I talk about organization and, if applicable, home staging, downsizing and redesign. Workshops are held on the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 am-12:00 pm at DeVry University, Room 105, 1140 Virginia Drive, Ft. Washington, PA (NOTE NEW LOCATION). The fee is $45. For more information or to register, go to www.allaboutwin.com (click on the circle for Montgomery County Community College if DeVry University is not shown), call WIN at 855-200-iWIN, or call me at 215.540.9401.
Saturday, October 11 — WIN workshop
Saturday, November 8 — WIN workshop
Friday, December 12 — Presenter on business organizing techniques for the new year to NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Greater Philadelphia, PA chapter, 9:00-10:00 am at KenCrest, 502 W. Germantown Pike, #200, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462.
Saturday, December 13 — WIN workshop
An Organized Approach can help you with organization at home and/or work, home staging, downsizing or redesign. Call 215.540.9401 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE, no-obligation phone consultation.