Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back-to-School Organization

You know what will kick your back-to-school organizing into high gear? Invite a TV crew into your house to talk back-to-school organizing! (And on that note, maybe I should convince them to come do a segment about toilet cleaning, since goodness knows I have a few that could use a good scrub...) Big thanks to Karen Drew and the WDIV crew for forcing me to get on the ball a little early this year so I could share some tips with you. 

We started our adventure in the kitchen, talking about one of many parents' most dreaded chores: packing lunches. I can't take the "chore" part out of it, but I have found a few products to help ease the pain. 

First, I love these lunchbox inserts from Easy Lunchboxes

They're dishwasher safe, durable, and easy to use...probably because they were designed by a mom! Be sure to follow them on Facebook, as there are some great recipes and ideas there. 

I also showed Karen how we use silicone muffin liners for snack holders inside the Easy Lunchboxes. 

Again, they're machine washable and more "green" (even the pink and purple ones!) than plastic baggies. I found these on Amazon, but you will also find them at most home stores. 

If you want your kids to eat their veggies, you'd better include some dip, and these little condiment holders, also found on Amazon do the trick for us. 

I try to keep all my lunch "gear" in one cabinet, and to also keep all the main lunch-making foods in one bin in the fridge. And I usually make lunches while I'm making dinner- you're already in the food-prep mode, so why not? Plus, the kids are usually roaming around and I can get them involved. After all, if you're always packing the lunches after they go to bed, it gives the impression that the Lunch Fairy is doing the work. If you happen to have a Lunch Fairy, great. If not, and you'd like the kids to be able to take over this task one day, you need to show them how to do it while they're awake. 

Outside of the kitchen, we talked a lot about routines, and how I like to post picture-based signs to remind the kids of what we do in the morning, when they come home from school, and before bed. It makes me less of a nag (I hope!) and (again) starts to transfer the responsibility to them. I found printable morning and evening routine charts on The Benson Street blog. There are some other great ones on I Heart Organizing. I just print them out, stick them in an inexpensive frame, and mount them on the kids' doors. They can use a dry erase marker to check off the items as they do them. 

My best advice for back-to-school organizing is to do as much as possible the night before. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it really does work when it comes to taming morning mayhem. I often have to work evenings, so getting the kids up and ready in the morning can be the bulk of my "quality time" with them and I've made a commitment- I'm not going to waste it or spend it yelling about lost sneakers. 

It's going to be a great year- I hope you're ready for it!! 

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