Sara Landry West. Photos by Jordan Hefler.

Fresh organization tips for kicking off the school year

The time to accept reality has come again. Summer break is nearing its end, and the school year—along with all of its chaos—is returning in full force. However, going back to school doesn’t have to be a rude awakening, especially when you plan ahead and take a few daily measures to stay on top of things.

In an effort to ease the madness of a new school year, we spoke to Sara Landry West, former teacher and owner of South Coast Organizers, for her tips to help you stay organized this August and beyond. Read on for it all:

1. Create a morning routine.

Kids thrive on routines. As a former teacher, I know that  consistency is key. When your child knows the expectations, they can become more independent. Create a list of what needs to be done each morning and post it in your child’s bedroom or bathroom. I’m talking about adding the simplest of tasks such as: get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth etc. Do not assume your child knows what they are supposed to do each morning. Have a conversation with your child about what needs to be done to get ready in the morning and have them make the checklist. Use pictures for kiddos who are too young to read.

2. Create an afternoon/evening routine.

Just like with the morning routine, create a visual schedule for what is expected when coming home from school. Is it homework first, then play time? Or do you want your child to have down time before hitting the books? Whatever you decide, display it so your child knows the expectations for what to do after school. Continue that schedule to include dinner, bath, and conclude the day with a set bedtime. Want to print out a cute and creative list? Check out websites like Etsy and Teachers Pay Teachers for tons of printable, editable, routine checklists for kids.

3. Have a plan for incoming papers.

Prepare yourself for information overload! You know the papers will be flowing in from your child’s school. Whether it’s communication from your child’s teacher or their homework and art projects, you need to be ready to slay that paperwork! Create an area to handle that flowing paper daily. Post important memos on the fridge or on a cork board, mark important dates on the calendar immediately, and get a file box for any school work you want to keep as mementoes.

4. Designate a place for backpacks and lunchboxes.

No mudroom? No problem! A simple hook or basket near the door can save so much time on those rushed school mornings. Make packing their backpack and lunches part of the evening routine to ensure a smooth morning.

5. Create a laundry schedule and designate a place for school clothes and accessories.

If your child wears a uniform, this is pretty easy. Have their uniform clothes, belts, and school-approved shoes and socks together for easy dressing in the morning. Create a laundry schedule to ensure a fresh, clean outfit everyday. If your child doesn’t wear uniforms, take some time on Sunday to decide on outfits for the week and have them laid out to save time in the morning.

6. Create a family calendar.

Whether it’s a paper calendar, dry erase board or Google calendar, make sure the family has a shared place to write down all of those important plans, conferences and practices. This helps keep everyone on the same page and prevents over-scheduling and ensures someone is designated for pick-ups and drop-offs.