Tackle the school-day morning rush with these organizational tips.
By Susan Kehoe, Ph.D.
When the back-to-school bell rings, it ushers in fears for students and parents alike. The hassle of getting kids out the door, dressed appropriately and with everything they need is daunting.
Erin Najor, a designer from California Closets (www.californiaclosets.com), has many solutions to streamline the morning rush and afternoon homework adventures.
She starts by analyzing your household patterns: “What do the kids need in the morning? Where are the bottlenecks? What causes an end-run back upstairs for the missing piece?”
Mudroom Staging Areas
Getting ready to head for school means having backpacks, library books, sports equipment or musical instruments in a consistent spot each morning. A mudroom makes a good staging area for this purpose.
Najor recommends mudrooms designed with a “locker” for each student. For example, it should include hooks to hang coats and backpacks, drawers to contain disappearing gloves, hats and scarves, and cubbyholes to store shoes and boots. Use large open bins for bulky items like sports equipment. Benches keep kids off the floor, away from dirt or wet puddles, while lacing up shoes.
What if you don’t have a designated mudroom space?
Some families do double duty with the laundry room or build modular cubbies into the steps. This solution makes use of every part of the house.
Bedrooms often function as multi-use rooms for study, sleep and play. Najor suggests opening bi-fold closet doors to configure a study area along with clothes storage. The desk must be large enough to do homework and have enough space for a computer and docking stations, if necessary.
Najor stresses that one size does not fit all.
“It’s about how your children use their space,” she says. “A desk and space to study is essential. But as the child grows, there are years you may need more room for additional electronics.”
Everything In Its Place
Lauren Combs (www.neatmethod.com) helps organize clutter and put essentials in the right place. With her “NEAT” Method, she can whip any kid’s room into shape in little time.
Combs says, “NEAT Method can implement a functional and well-organized kid space that offers two main benefits: kids can find what they are looking for faster and the space stays neater because everything has a specific place.”
The first step for kids is the same as for adults — purge. Then, prioritize, categorize and organize.
“It’s important to talk with kids and parents about their daily routines,” she says. “Kids may have unnecessary ‘stuff’ taking up space in their rooms that could be better used to manage their study needs.”
Combs says a bulletin board situated at eye level behind the desk plays a role in organizing permission slips, to-do lists, the activity calendar and even reminder notes from Mom.
She also recommends drawers. High school and middle school students may need a drawer for every subject. For example, a math drawer stores homework, assignments, past tests and a calculator.
For those craft projects, storage units with pullout drawers hold containers for pens, markers, paints and other supplies. Combs can bring in boxes, bins and containers of all sizes that can be used instead of drawers.
Labeling the contents, however, is an important part of the organization. A black background with white lettering, reminiscent of old blackboards, is easy to read, but colorful labels make organization more fun for younger kids.
When it comes to getting dressed in the morning, kids need to master their closets. Arm-level rods are not a luxury, but a necessity. Cubbies where shoes stay together and drawers dedicated to a specific item can save a world of aggravation when the school bus is minutes away.
Space reorganization can eliminate stressful mornings and maximize study time at the end of the day. It’s good to know that experts can step in and simplify the hassle. NS
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