As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, I have the opportunity to chat and learn from other Professional Organizers all over the country. This recent post by Robin Harisis of Room Service Personal Organizing in New York really caught my attention. She was able to capture exactly what I try to share with Moms in such a perfect way. With her permission, I am copying it here.
- Use only one calendar. If I were only allowed to offer one time management tip, this would rank high on the list. It is imperative that you combine all of the sports schedules, school schedules, social schedules, daycare schedules, etc onto one calendar. This way you can readily see well in advance any scheduling conflicts that you may have and you can address those immediately AND it allows you to discard that big pile of paper schedules that you normally have to shuffle through.
- Plan and lay outfits out the night before. This also helps to cut the anxiety level down in the morning for everyone! I know with two daughters, we had several outfit changes before they were happy each evening. Imagine if all of that took place in the morning!
- Go through book bags the night before. Set up a time each evening to go through bookbags, review and sign everything and then place them by the door. We usually did this after dinner & washing dishes each evening. Be sure to merge any new or changed activities to your calendar immediately.
- If you have a few extra minutes, leave early. One of the biggest mistakes people make is they have a few minutes left before they have to leave and so they decide to do one more thing before they go. Avoid this trap if at all possible. One more thing NEVER gets done in those few minutes and almost always results in you rushing out the door late.
Routines and habits can help us live a more ordered, effortless life which ultimately cuts down on our stress level too. Your children will learn these valuable habits from watching you and will ultimately be able to carry these same habits through life with them as well. As a single parent for most of my children’s school years, I can attest to the value of these much needed time management tips.
- Plan for the unexpected. As a rule, have your children arise 15 minutes earlier than normal every day. This extra time allows the children to wake up and prepare for school in a more relaxed way which ultimately will send them out of the door more prepared to learn & face the day. This also is an added cushion in case little Suzie spills koolaid on her school outfit and you need to quickly change her or Billy suddenly remembers there is one more paper he needs help with.
- Prepare the night before. One of the most valuable tools I taught my children was to always put their bookbags and other school items by the front door the night before. This way we were never running around frantically in the morning trying to collect not only their book bags, but everything that goes in them. We just casually grabbed their bags as we walked out the door.
- Plan and pack your lunch the night before. If you plan and pack your lunches the night before you can just grab those as well on your way out. The other big reward of doing it this way is that it adds a nice and relaxed time for the family to “hang out” together and have fun preparing the lunches together. As your children are eating their lunch at school, they’ll be reminded of the time you spent together preparing them.
There’s no denying it, every school year starts off the same; an overwhelming amount of paperwork is brought into your home from school within the first few days. If you make plans now for how you are going to deal with it, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is.
- Leave your schedule open. Don’t make any plans for the first week. You can count on making a trip to get school supplies you didn’t know they would need. You’ll need time to deal with the paperwork and to discuss school rules, etc with your children.
- Use one central calendar for everything. Take time within the first week to merge the various school schedules onto the central calendar, and then toss or recycle the individual schedules. These schedules might include sports, lunch, days off, picture days, etc.
- Prepare for the paperwork. Gather insurance cards, immunization records and emergency contact information before school begins. This way you’ll be prepared to complete the paperwork when it arrives and get it back to school.
- Designate a place for school papers to land. It’s important to have a central location where all of the paperwork that needs your attention will land each day. Make sure your children are aware of the plan and that they know what they need to do.
As I’ve mentioned before, getting organized and dieting, or eating healthy, have alot in common. A big part of being successful in both areas is taking the time to make a plan. Once you take the time to make the plan, the execution is much simpler. Here are some healthy back to school tips from Dr Matt Wheeler with Corrections Chiropractics (You can sign up for their e-newsletter which always features lots of simple healthy tips.):
I am so excited to have Simplified Living Solutions and my tips included in a back to school article for getting kids out the door on She Knows.Com. Raising two children as a single parent, I saw the benefits first-hand of being organized and having plans in place to simplify everyday activities, reduce the stress and keep things running smoothly.