The signs are here. Crisp morning air, orange buses rumbling through the neighborhood, crazy cheap crayons and pencils at Target, the inflow of paper forms and emails from your kids school that you ignore at your peril. Like it or not, these harbingers of fall and back to school mean summer is almost over, and it’s time for a more structured approach to each day.
Managing the clutter of homework, fliers, forms, sports gear and the like tops the list of most families’ home challenges, and there are plenty of cubby-hole, bulletin-board and hooked-up organization “systems” marketed to try to solve the problem. But often they’re either too small or complicated and eventually end up ignored. What really works are simple solutions that don’t require a ton of space, just a little discipline. Here are the essentials.
One for keys, one for each backpack, sports bag or purse and one for coats in use (keep out of season coats stored away). Every member of the family gets a hook for each. The sturdier the better. Hooks are easier than a rod and hangers. If you don’t have wall space a coat rack can be a good substitute.
Tray, shelf or bin for shoes and boots
A landing strip for shoes and boots. Again, the key is storing what’s not in season/use elsewhere, i.e., in the owners’ bedroom closet. If the kids persist in leaving their entire collection of shoes by the door, try “shoe jail” and charge bail to release.
Hat and glove basket or bin
Ideally one for gloves and one for hats or combined if space is tight. Those soft over-the-door shoe racks with pockets work well for individual pairs of gloves and hats too, but take up more space.
Basket or bin for papers
Train your little scholars to empty their backpacks immediately and place artwork and important papers that mom or dad need to see in a basket or bin.
Setting up the entryway is the easy part. The hard part is the routine that will make it work. Get your Mr. Rogers on. Hang the keys, coats and bags and stash the shoes right when you walk in the door. Have the kids empty their backpack right away (before snack or TV). Lunch detritus gets unpacked, containers rinsed and put in sink or dishwasher, trash thrown, cold packs in freezer. Papers get put in parent “in box”. If my kids shoes weren’t in the proper place I would put them in shoe jail. Ditto socks that seemed to end up all over the family room. Having to dip into their piggybanks to gain access to favored sneaks was more effective than a weeks’ worth of nagging.
A well-organized entryway equals less chaos, carping and smoother goodbyes and hellos so you can better enjoy the precious school years with your kids. Because like they say, it flies.
by Laurie Junker