Back to school means back to early alarms, back to routines and back to managing busy schedules – but it doesn't have to mean back to being disorganized. With a new season on the horizon and hectic mornings making their return, keeping your home organized can be the key to good grades when it comes to getting your family out the door on time.
If your home is in need of some cleaning and decluttering, start with a plan. While it may seem like an obvious place to start, knowing what needs to be done, who can help and how it will happen can make the organization process much easier and more efficient. It's harder to stray from a schedule so being able to identify your priorities and carving out time to check things off your list will set you up to succeed.
Elinor Warkentin, professional organizer and clutter consultant at Goodbye Clutter, knows that starting the process can be overwhelming. “I usually say that any start is a step in the right direction but that if [clients] break it into chunks that it will be more manageable,” says Warkentin. “I also suggest that they pick an area or project that they can finish in the time they set aside, for two reasons: one, so that they have a sense of accomplishment, and two, so that they know there will be a finish time.”
With the chaos of a school day in mind, Heather Knittel of Good Riddance Professional Organizing Solutions, Inc suggests making sure that your entranceway is organized before tackling other areas of the home. “It's the in-and-out-of-the-house part that really bogs people down,” says Knittel. “And I think it's really important for each child to have their own hook - for their coats or their backpacks and their shoes. Each child should have their own zone. The same should be for when they're bringing paper in. Keep a basket for each child in the house...somewhere where you can access it fairly quickly.”
An entryway can easily end up like that one junk drawer in your kitchen...but a lot harder to hide. By introducing organizers, hanging calendars and checklists, and assigning space to each family member, you can easily cut down on clutter and make your home more welcoming.
The kitchen is another essential area to keep organized as it's where many families begin their day together. “Waking up to clear counters and a dish free sink is much more welcoming and motivating, than cluttered surfaces and unfinished work,” says Warkentin. “Plus,mornings can be hectic times for families, with children heading off to school and parents to work. When you can find what you need easily, you save time, money, and there is less strain on relationships or relying on one person for finding and organizing everything needed at the last minute.”
Involving children in the organization process can not only make your job as a parent easier but it is also important as it most often involves their possessions.
“It's their own memorabilia,” notes Knittle. “And if it's important to them, they definitely have to have a lot of involvement in the decision making because it's their stuff, it's their accomplishments. It's also advantageous to teach children things like [they] don't have to keep it all or to try to be organized, because it's going to affect their school year.”
“One of my best successes with getting children involved was to have a ‘contest’ for the whole family, with a prize for the best before and after, plus a prize for who worked the hardest,” recalls Warkentin. Warkentin offers another tip that she uses with her clients called '5 Things A Day.' “Every day I pick up, put away, de-clutter, toss out, give to charity...5 things,” she explains. “It could be something small like a safety pin which has fallen on the floor and been ignored for a while, to recognizing an old book on my bookshelf that I didn’t want anymore.” Being able to recognize, record and reward your successes with a strategy such as Warkentin's can make home organization more manageable and enjoyable for the whole family.
An organized home is an efficient home and the same systems that work for one family might not be what works for yours. By organizing according to what works best for your lifestyle, you will find yourself better able to accomplish what needs to get done in a day. Asking yourself about the usefulness or importance of items in your home or re-examining routines that haven't changed may reveal areas in need of reorganization. When back-to-school means more time spent packing lunches and practicing timetables, you'll want to spend your family time making memories instead of cleaning up clutter. An organized home will help everyone receive a report card they can be proud of.
QUICK TIPS FOR STAYING ORGANIZED :
If you don't use it daily, ask yourself if it needs to be out or on display.
Let your kids pick out their clothes on the weekend – five hooks in a closet for five outfits for the week.
Colour coding – whether it be clothes, toys, books or storage bins – makes orga¬nization easier for children.
Using clear storage bins in cupboards or closets allows you to quickly see where things belong; cutting down on the time it takes to tidy, find, or restock an item.
Include the whole family's schedules on a large wall calendar that everyone can see so that important dates and appoint¬ments can be viewed in advance and aren't overlooked.