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Organizing your home for back-to-school

Everyone’s got their own back-to-school routine: buy school supplies, some new shoes, get the kids back on a normal sleep schedule and juggle scheduling with new sports, clubs and other after-school activities. With all that goes on during back-to-school, it’s all too easy to find yourself buried in a pile of clutter, making the daily morning ship-off just that more hectic. To keep things organized all year, follow these tips for keeping your home, kids and self in A+ shape:

Designate a “drop zone”: Ever since Hansel and Gretel, kids have been leaving trails (whether it be breadcrumbs or book bags, jackets and shoes) of their “stuff” wherever they go. By ensuring they put their things in one organized space as soon as they walk through the door, your home will be tidier and they’ll be able to find their school essentials much more easily.

In an area right where they walk in and out of the house (a mudroom or entryway are good places), attach hooks on the wall, one for each child (preferably at their own height) to hang their jackets and book bags. Another good idea is to designate a cubby or basket for each child. There, they can keep their shoes, hats, gloves or anything else that’s liable to get tossed anywhere else around the house.

Read more tips after the jump!

Create calendar central: Get a magnetic, wipe-off calendar to hang on your refrigerator. Designate a color of marker to each of your children to keep their activities straight. If they’re able, have them write their own activities and appointments in their designated color on the calendar. Then, everyone in the house will know where each person has to be, and when, all month long.

Make an “In and Out” station: Especially in the beginning of the school year, your kids are going to be bringing in stacks of papers that require your signature. Buy a tiered file organizer (you’ll need two bins for each child) and label each tier with the child’s name – this is their very own in and out box! After your children get home, ask them to clean out their book bags and place any papers that need signed or reviewed in the in box. Before going to bed at night, ask that they check their out box and empty any papers there back into their bag.

Photocopy Release Forms: You’ll go through this routine every year for 13 years with your child: filling out school-required emergency medical and contact forms. The task is tedious for every parent, so make it easier on yourself! Sit down and write the address and phone number of the regulars (doctor, dentist, hospital, family friend, etc.) to call in an emergency. Do it this one time, and file photocopies on hand for the next year.

By following these tips, your-back-to-school should go much more smoothly, while keeping children organized all year long!

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