We are still a week out from school starting ’round here. So I’ve got a bit of breathing room… I think? But I wanted to share just a few of the things we are tackling to make sure we are ready to launch well come the official first day of the new school year.
One thing that’s big to address is the kids’ rooms. We really allow them to let the mess take over a bit during the summer break. Rooms do not usually have to be cleaned up at day’s end. Blanket forts and foyer-filling train tracks remain constructed for days on end. But as we begin to turn our minds and hearts to a fresh school year, we remember that the clutter and mess that might make for easy continuation of summer games and relaxation can become a source of stress and disarray once school kicks in.
But more than just cleaning up, we try to go through everything–clothes, toys, even furniture, everything. With furniture, we try to consider if it is the right piece for the right function in the right space. We’ve switched pieces of the boys’ navy furniture between their two rooms a time or two to increase functionality.
If there are toys that are no longer enjoyed, we try to help the kids see that those objects are taking up room in their space, that they can enjoy the things they actually enjoy more fully without these superfluous items in the way. And we celebrate the kids’ willingness to let go of little used items: “I’m so impressed with all you are willing to let go! Now you can really enjoy your space and toys!” Rather than “getting rid of something,” my two boys now talk about someone who might not have much getting to benefit from what we decide to pass on. Win!
I was shocked by how much my five-year-old was happily, even eagerly, willing to let go… because you know how it goes sometimes: when they see something for the first time in a long time, they start in with the “Oh! I’ve been really looking for that!” or “Oh! I love that [dusty, neglected, forlorn old thing] so much!!”
I employ my happy yard sale tactic on mass items–you know, like lay out twenty cars and ask them to choose their favorite five or ten. [Of course, if it’s clear they want more, even all, I’m pretty happy to oblige–the point is with this sort not necessarily to thin collections, but more to find out which items your kids actually do play with and love.]
But I must warn you, once the sort is done, get those move-on items moved on quickly, or you might see them sneak back in again! We put ours in a couple of boxes in the garage ready for our neighborhood yard sale next month.
Sorting the kids’ clothes always feels like a monumental task to me, daunting. But rather than have your child try on twenty shirts, for instance, have him try on one or two, then use those as fit guides for the rest, holding one shirt up to the others to compare size. Sort clothes into categories: ones that can be given away or donated, ones that were borrowed and need to be returned, and ones that can be passed on to a younger sibling. As with the toys sort, move the clothes on quickly. [Oh! And when you put them back in the drawers, don’t forget this tip for more efficient kids’ clothes folding.]
But the biggie for school year sanity maintenance for me, can I just confess, is this little binder.
I try to keep important school info all in one mobile place. I can grab it when I head out the door for meetings, and it keeps me (the notorious post-it note-to-self-jotter) from tearing my hair out looking for a scrap of paper I scribbled on some bit of information of dire importance. I have tabs for each child’s class, so I can keep track of papers that come home during the school year, ones I might want to reference later (like how to access grades online), notes to or from the teacher, and class event information, etc. This information is really useful as a class coordinator/mom b/c I can look back at the previous year to help gauge when things will be coming up in the current school year and to have a starting point for what needs to be organized. I also have a little spiral notebook I keep for note-taking. It is smaller than the binder, so it can easily slip in my purse. It’s again the post-it-note-insanity defense. When I jot down a little note to myself to do or remember something, I try to write and date it in here, so I can always find it later.
Really, for me the start of the school year has such a flood of papers that getting highly organized ahead of time, then working the system I have in place, helps me stay a little more sane and functional. Last year, I set up a Mommy Command Center, so I could keep up with the flood of papers that needed to be immediately filled in and sent back or others that could be filed for future reference. As the school year wears on, and the to and fro of papers is not so heavy, the filing system becomes a sort of staging area for memory albums. [I still need to write that post, but I will just say here that while you might be tempted as a mom to keep every precious scrap of paper your little darlin’ brings home, it’s just not practical. Pull the happy yard sale trick on yourself and just have a file for each child where you put all his papers, then once it’s full, pull out the favorite few that best represent him to save and treasure.]
And if you haven’t yet read the “Your Kids’ Best School Year Yet” series, please do… Consider this your personal invitation! 🙂
Oh! And the one about making a fully functional mudroom in a teensy closet, yes! Go! 🙂
Anyhoo, hope you have a wonderful, glorious, happy, fun, family-filled last bit or summer and an incredible, extraordinary, brilliant school year ahead! Wheee!