School is Back in Session! (pause to listen to the collective groan from school children everywhere) This means a lot of changes from the lazy days of summer and I wanted to share some quick tips to help parents stay organized and sane while they get back into the school schedule.
1. Prepare in Advance: If you're not a morning person you may want to see how much you can prepare the evening before when you do have more energy. Things like pre-packing your lunches with any non-perishable food items, setting out your wardrobe, getting your knapsack/purse/briefcase prepared the evening before will help you be more productive in the morning. The more you can set on auto pilot or accomplish in advance, the easier your mornings can be.
2. Set up a Schedule: If you have a busy family with a busy schedule, create a family schedule that you print out weekly or monthly (depending upon the frequency of change in the schedule) and keep it where your family can see it. This way everyone knows where everyone else is and where they're supposed to be next. All family members with laptops/iPads/Smartphones, etc can also keep an e-copy on them as well. Knowing in advance where you're supposed to be is a real time/stress saver and will allow you to plan ahead.
3. Your Child isn't Picasso or Enstein: Create a rule of how long artwork and papers are kept in your household. Macaroni gets dry and falls off the artwork. That A+ is super awesome but trust me, not even your kid will care they got that on a math test in the 2nd grade when they're 40. Knowing how long to keep a test (like until after the semester is over and your child won't be tested on it) is a great way to keep non-essential papers to a minimum.
4. For Ages Three & Up: Kids love to help and they love responsibility because they know it means you trust them. If you have kids aged 3 or above, they can help you get and stay organized by keeping their room tidy or making their bed or bringing you their laundry or emptying their trash or taking napkins to help set the table. The point is they can help you so please take advantage of this rather than feeling you have to do everything yourself. You don't. You are not their maid, you are their parent so allow them to help as much as possible so you have more time to spend quality time with your kids.
5. When Too Much is Too Much: Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew and we suddenly feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we're supposed to get done. We are not robots and there's only 24 hours in a day so it's okay if you can't or don't want to do everything you think you should be doing. If Sally hates her ballet classes, cancel them. If the laundry can hold for a night while you spend time as a family, then let that laundry sit stinky for one more day! If the dishes don't get done, you'll wash them when you need a clean one. Sometimes you can't do everything. If you're feeling like you're running ragged or your children are exhausted from school and their varied activities and organizations, it's okay to let some of them go. If one night you give them cereal versus a home cooked meal, the point is you fed them and you're also not Mario Batali. Accept the fact that most of your kids won't be prima ballerinas or pro baseball players ... most will just be average humans who want to live a happy, healthy life...just like Mom and Dad.
For more tips on how to get and stay organized, visit http://www.ackorganizing.com.