The start of the New Year (and a new decade!) means a chance for fresh beginnings. One way parents are keen to take advantage is to start the second semester of the school year on the right foot. The first semester was likely a combination of hits and misses, and darn it, we’re all determined to learn from our mistakes.
Ready to get started? Here are five easy steps to take toward an organized home this year.
Tackle the Entryway
Walking in your front door to a disaster – or leaving one behind in the morning – will give anyone anxiety. If you have a pile of shoes staring at you and coats slung over the banister or backs of couches, it’s time to whip your entryway into shape.
First, install a dedicated place for shoes. Use this shoe cubby that doubles as a bench, or if you have a smaller space, consider a tall, narrow shoe cubby that also serves as a coat rack, like this one. If you feel so inclined, you can even go so far as to label the cubbies so every family member knows exactly where to put (and find) their shoes!
While a funky, vintage coat rack looks cool in the corner, it is by far one of the most impractical ways to store coats. Opt for a simple horizontal coat rack, and you can even find them with mirrors and shelves for last minute teeth checks and key storage. For smaller spaces, consider shorter racks, with one placed higher for adults and a lower one for the kiddos.
If you have a tendency to collect smaller items in your entryway, snag a hanging cubby to make sure there’s a place for everything. If there are items that your family tends to forget last minute – such as hair ties or lip balm – keep extras in one of the cubbies so you don’t have to sprint upstairs when you’re trying to dash out the door.
Create a Routine with To-Do Lists
Kids thrive with routines and consistency. It’s why so many parents complain that their kids seem to be angels at school only to come home and fall to pieces: At school they have very clear expectations, schedules they can count on to the minute, and routines that never change.
Why not implement the same at home?
Whether it’s a picture checklist for your preschooler, a chore organization list, or a series of daily reminders on your high school student’s phone, consistency is key. There’s even extensive research behind the psychology of to-do lists and their effectiveness. Even your youngest children will get a sense of accomplishment when they consult their picture checklist and confirm that, yes, they did put their undies on!
Bring Zen to Your Homework Station
No matter your hopes for organized peace and quiet when kids come home to work on assignments, we all know that’s almost never the case: They beg, barter, and sneak to find the messiest, most disruptive space in our house to do homework.
Parents, it’s time to put your foot down. Designate out-of-the-way space with a desk, lamp, and caddy of all the supplies kiddos need for homework. When deciding a place, make sure it’s completely removed from high-traffic and distraction-prone areas, and then set the routine and expectation that this is where homework is to be completed.
But no one wants a cluttered desk space, even when it’s tucked away; where do all the papers go?
Family Command Station
Not quite a “Captain Kirk, Captain of the Starship Enterprise” bridge, but a designated spot for information and leadership nonetheless. Hang up pre-designed calendars and note boards, or paint the wall in chalkboard paint and design your own – whatever works for your family. The goal is to be able to see upcoming schedules and important notices at a glance.
If papers tend to clutter kitchen counters and coffee tables – and eventually are lost for good – add hanging paper files to your command station and label each pocket with an appropriate name. From school documents parents needing signatures to mail that has yet to be sorted, each small piece of paper can find a place in your home.
Prep Your Closets
Yeah, you know you’re supposed to lay out clothes and stuff the night before, but it’s an easy step to forget. If the “I forgot to set out the kids’ clothes” thought constantly plagues you in the middle of the night, make your life easier by reorganizing your kids closets and dressers.
- Organize hanging clothes in groups from one side of the closet to the other. For example, you might have school shirts followed by school pants followed by t-shirts, then, jeans, then slacks, and so on.
- Organize each section by color (it’ll be useful in the future when you’re looking for the purple elephant shirt and you don’t have to riffle through every article of clothing to find it).
- If you have a small closet, space saver hangers that allow you to hang multiple items of the same type from a single hanger are a lifesaver.
- In drawers, take a page from tidying-up expert Marie Kondo and employ the KonMari Folding Method. Fold and roll clothes into little rectangles and set them upright so you can see everything. Use drawer organizers if your kids have a problem keeping things neat.
- Finally, pull outfits for the whole week on Sunday afternoon. A hanging organizer with five compartments works perfectly to layout an outfit for every day. Look at the command station calendar so you can put gym clothes or picture day clothes in the right compartment. And for the littles, you can put undies, socks, and accessories on top of each pile of clothes for easy access!
There you have it! We’re looking forward to a more-organized, stress-free second semester with these five tips and tricks. Share your favorite organizing tricks with us on social media, or let us know if there’s another design topic you’d like us to cover!