Back to school means back to textbooks, homework, and backpacks, and for many kids, back to afterschool and extracurricular activities. Put it all together and you’ve got quite a bit more clutter around the house, which can make the early morning flurry of getting to school a lot more stressful. Before the call you get at work for a forgotten sports bag becomes a daily routine, take down these tips from an organizing professional.
The best way to get organized for afterschool activities is to start the night before, says Cynthia Braun, certified professional family organizer and owner of Organize Your Life on Long Island. Getting their things together for the next day should be a nightly ritual for kids — and it all starts with an organized bedroom.
Braun, a mother of two, identified the major rift that usually appears between the words “kids” and “organized.” “Kids have a lot of things,” she says, “and they don’t have homes for them.” A “home” for a child’s things can be anything from a closet hanger, to a hook on the door, to a storage space under the bed. Designating a space for each item in the room simplifies things and takes away the frustration of looking for something amidst the clutter.
When possessions are organized, kids respect them more and tend to keep them that way, Braun says. An organized bedroom becomes a safe haven for kids — a place they can enjoy and be proud of.
In the Closet
Getting dressed in the morning becomes easier by developing a system for clothes:
• Hang everything by the same type and color of hanger to simplify the space, leaving about two to three inches between each item for easy access and visibility
• Hang clothes by category (shirts, pants, skirts, etc.) and arrange by color
• For younger children, pair outfits together on the same hanger
• Hang only clothes that fit and are in-season; out-of-season clothes should be stored under the bed and those that no longer fit but are in good condition should be donated or given away
• Parents should help their children go through their closet about every six months, or at the change of seasons, to make sure it’s up to date.
• Sort clothes by categories and label a drawer for each, i.e., “socks” or “pajamas”
• Include a labeled drawer for each extracurricular activity, i.e., “baseball stuff”
• Let kids create the labels using an electronic labeling machine like Brother P-touch.
The Desk Area
• Hang a calendar and teach your child to jot down the dates of their practices, recitals, games, and other important events
• Create a filing system with folders for each school subject and afterschool activity. Teach your child to sort all relevant papers into each folder so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.