Back to School Homes That Work
August 16, 2021
School bells are ringing across Alabama as students return to classrooms. The flurry of papers to sign, books, computers, school supplies and lunch boxes can quickly overwhelm even the most organized parents and their homes. Here are some ideas to quickly organize back-to-school chaos and clutter into spaces and routines that help students (and parents) enjoy a great school year.
Start With a Command Center
Whether it’s a kitchen wall, an entryway or mudroom, find that spot everyone is sure to see on the way in or out of the door. The command center is a great place to post a family calendar and include important dates from the school calendar. Sync the physical calendar with an electronic one like the popular Cozi app that allows you to color code every family member’s schedule. Wall-mounted mesh file baskets for kids can keep important papers off the counters and ready for review and signing. Finally, a chalkboard – or better yet - individual message boards - creates a space for important messages and quick reminders.
Lifestyle website The Spruce recommends individual message boards. “Message boards are a huge help when it comes to keeping papers organized, but when they get too overcrowded with notes from school, drawings, and birthday party invitations, it can get cluttered and ultimately lead to less organization than more!”
Add a Landing/Takeoff Zone
Having designated hooks in the entryway for each member of the family eliminates both afternoon clutter and the morning scramble to find backpacks, jackets and shoes. If space permits, create a landing/takeoff zone by adding a bench to the command center with hooks above for backpacks and baskets for shoes, clean socks and sweaters. Make sure hooks are attached to walls that will support their weight. The landing zone becomes an easy morning takeoff zone for redeye bus and carpool rides and a great way to organize and still look amazing.
A hall tree is an alternative to a wall-mounted command center/landing zone. Most retail furniture brands offer attractive iterations of hall trees with hooks, cubbies, and drawers that fit popular décor trends.
If a little construction project is not too daunting, consider adapting an unused recessed space or creating one in an existing wall between studs.
Make Homework Less Work
Look around for a bit of unused space that could be converted to a dedicated study and homework station. Whether utilizing an upstairs landing space, a corner in the kitchen or making a walk-in closet a “work-in” closet, a homework station fosters focus and good study habits. If a dedicated space isn’t possible, consider a small table or vintage school desk in a space free from distractions but close enough for homework help. Whatever form the homework station takes, personalize it with favorite colors and themes.
Since homework requires a wide variety of supplies, a tiered rolling cart or stack of rolling drawers can contain the supply clutter and books then disappear. If there is a closet door nearby, a hanging shoe bag with labeled pockets makes a nifty supply storage spot.
Prep for the Week
Want to eliminate Monday morning (and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning) stress? Organize. Organizing your week ahead of time can make hectic school mornings feel less hectic.
If packing a lunch is part of the school day routine, make it easier and fun with a lunch packing station. Use baskets for bags, containers, napkins, straws and utensils; pantry bins for dry snacks; and refrigerator bins for cold items to make lunchbox packing easier.
Eliminate the meltdowns over what to wear by using these printable closet tags. Just collaborate on five outfits, assemble the pieces on a hanger (underwear and socks in a quart-size zipper bag clipped to the hanger) and slip on a tag. No arguments allowed after tagging.
The goal for back-to-school organization should be to make the transition back to school easier. Every family and every home is different. The key is to find the spaces and routines that work for you.