Easy Organized, Productive Back to School

easy organized productive back to school

 

Back to school means school starts, activities gear up and nightly routines begin again.  While it is sad to see Summer end, we welcome getting back to school as a fresh start for our kids and ourselves. Let’s make it an easy, organized, productive year for our families at back to school time.

Easy, organized, productive routines

By far families feel the crunch most in the morning and evening. Mornings feel rushed with getting out the door. Evenings fly by with activities and dinner.

  • Create and keep a personal checklist for everyone to follow for morning and evening. Post it where your family each can see it. Parent nagging does not promote getting things done, while a checklist can.  The list includes the most basic and most important things to check off.  Keep it short and simple. However, it can include things can are easily forgotten like brushhing teeth and combing hair.
  • Pattern your day.  That is create a pattern, routine or time assigned for important tasks. Homework should have a set start and finish time.
  • Make meals easy.  Many families have opted for Sunday prep day, a dinner box, or dinner prep (and easy decisions) that arrives like Hello Fresh.
  • Make time for gratitude. During dinner or at bedtime are great times to share what we are grateful for, high and low points of the day, and a special acknowledgement for your kids’ and your successes each day.  There’s power in ending the day positively.

 

Easy, organized clothes and school supplies

There’s clothes, school supplies and other supplies required to start the school year.  Take stock and assess what you have already. This may require making a huge mess when gathering it all together. It’s worth it since you know what you have and purchase only what you need.

  • Think of creating a “uniform” for your kids to wear to school. Like the concept of the capsule wardrobe, use color and your child’s style to pull together a minimum number of outfits.  It will clear the closet clutter this way too!
  • Purchase your school supplies and 2 back ups for future use. Help your child set up their supplies for homework and for school.
  • Keep one bag for each child for each activity. Prep your landing strip by having enough sturdy hooks for each.
  • A productive day starts the night before.  Set your and your kids’ clothes out the night before.  Do as much as you can.  Se bags and backpacks in the landing strip and technology charging in a common space.  Make these steps part of your evening checklist.

 

Easy, organize, productive paper routines

On the first day of school, a tidal wave of paper comes in. Be prepared this year to be organize and productive with a command center for your papers.  The command center is where action papers are located.  The command center can be as simple as a single drawer or inbox or a series of categories customized for your family.

  • Your kids and you drop paper here daily.  You triage it and then add tasks to your list.
  • Once a week, or daily if you need to, spend one hour to get the paper work done. That means pay bills, fill in information, add dates to your calendar and all other administrative tasks.
  • When your “to file” is big enough, you can file it easily.
  • Your list can grow and grown, however choose 3 Most Important Tasks to complete that day or that week.

The key element to remember is keep it simple sweetie!  The easiest, simplest way to get organized is the way to go!  Wishing you the best back to school ever!

 

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Best Family Travel Tips

best family travel organizing tips

 

 

On a recent trip with my grandkids, I knew that we had entered a new age of organizing for families. We love the opportunity to travel with our grandkids and took the fun on the road.  It’s no longer just clothes and shoes to pack.  Now it’s multiple ipads, movies, chargers, medicines, hand sanitizer and more.  Here’s best family travel tips to make sure you are organized and ready for fun!

 

Start with a list

There’s simply too much to remember to pack for your family.  There are lots of lists available online or create your own checklist.  Our list includes all the details, no matter how small.  When you travel with kids you want to be sure you are prepared.  We added medicines and first aid supplies.  You can be sure your list is complete by adding items and reviewing it after your trip.

Create a family command center

When a family of 5 shares a hotel room, it can be chaotic.  It’s easy to lose the most important of items like money or tickets.  Create a command center with wallets, purses, and other important items.  This can be near the tv or by the mini refrigerator.  Unload your pockets or purse each night and restock each morning before you leave your accommodations.  Taking a few minutes to set this up and keep it orderly each day will make your travel more fun and less stressful.

Create a charging station

Just like at home, you want your devices ready to go in the morning.  We created a charging station for all devices.  We brought along 2 extra power strips to plug in all the devices.  Each device had it’s own charger.  I also have an extra charger for my phone during the day that I would recharge each evening.   Devices were plugged in each evening so everyone would get a good night’s rest too. Label each charger so you know who owns it and what device it belongs to.

 

As in all, travel keep the basics in mind as you pack.  A little organizing goes a long way!

 

An organized family is a happy family!

The Secret of How a Reset Helps You be More Organized

reset your home, office and life

 

Days and weeks take a toll on our organization and productivity. We work hard and play hard. Some times our organization suffers because we are too busy.  That’s why a reset can make a difference.

 

What’s a reset?

By definition a reset is when you get back to your baseline, get started fresh and get back in order.  It is typically a verb that shows the action of placing back. It means to move (something) back to an original place or position. However, let’s think of it as noun to help you restore order.

 

When do I reset?

It’s a best practice to reset daily and weekly.  A daily reset is getting your bags emptied and reorganized, your kids’ backpacks uncluttered, and  your clothes in a hamper or hung up.  Each evening take 5 minutes (with your family) to reset your home. That is to restore order to important bags, spaces and spots to have a fresh start for the next day. A list can help you be sure you reset all the areas that are important to you.

 

Make your your week starts with a weekly home reset ion Sunday. It’s your preparation for having a great week.  Take 30 minutes to check your calendar for the week so you know what’s ahead..

 

A weekly office reset is best on Friday.  At this time you are most in touch with your projects and tasks. Capture information, get your desk back in order, create files for loose papers and tidy up your space at this time.

 

What else is behind a reset?

In the book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains small changes in behavior and the impact. With a reset, you are applying the science of change to your life in a way that can make every day better. Life with new habits requires reminders and practice. Build in support for this new habit with baby steps, attaching your reset to an existing habit, and acknowledging how important can be for you.

 

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4 Easy Ways to Organize Your ADHD Child’s Room

organize your adhd child

 

Summer is a great time for you and your child to work on an organizing project.  It’s when you have more time together, so together you can tackle their bedroom. It’s a project that can last beyond one day or a weekend to complete. There’s time for mixing in music and fun while you work.  It’s a partnership you and your child can work together on, collaborate and end with an organized room.  Together you can organize your adhd child’s room.

 

Big trash can

Start simple.  It’s typical that you can’t see the floor.  There’s more trash in our kids rooms than ever. An ample trash can helps get this contained.  Give your kids an open trash can that’s well placed for use.  When you cull out the trash, you have  a great small start to organizing.  Keeping the floor clear as a routine helps keep the room more organized in general.

 

Big categories

Often we over complicate and over think the organizing in our kids rooms.  Think of big categories for ADHD kids.  Resist the urge to have small bins sorted super specifically.   The common categories are media, toys and clothes. Media can be stored in a bin by game system and a notebook for each cd.  Clothes can all be hung and there can be a bin for pajamas and underwear.  Stuffed animals are easy to store in a large basket or toy box.  Keep the organization simple and labelled for you and your child to maintain order too.

 

Let go of lots of toys

Our kids have lots of toys in their spaces. It’s overwhelming and too much to organize or play with.  Your child may feel every toy is special.  It can be hard to decide what to let go of, but here are some steps you can work on together.   Start letting go of toys that are for younger kids. The most important of these keepsake toys can be stored in a bin.  Decide where you will store toys and use this as a limit for toys in your home.  Your child can choose 3 toys to let go of and share with others.  Let go of 1 stuffed animal a week and have a moratorium on purchasing new stuffies.  Any way you decide, it’s a good time to release some toys.  Overall, a less cluttered environment is a positive environment.

 

Daily Dash time

The most organized space needs a daily pick up time. The Daily Dash gives your children time to get items back to where they go.  Talk through the day with your child and see what is the most advantageous time to pick up.  Set an alarm on their phone, write a reminder on several post it notes, schedule a family daily dash time or write out a chart of responsibilities including daily dash time. When everyone picks up, it’s a noticeable difference in your home.

 

This summer, one of your goals may be to be more organized. It’s important to walk through organizing and partner with your kids.  For the not naturally organized, this will take reinforcement.  Be patient and kind as you work alongside your child to help them be more organized.

 

More ideas here  on my Pinterest Board ADHD

 

Easy, Organized Summer Travel

easy organized summer travel

 

It’s travel season! It starts right after the end of school and trickles down in mid- August.  There’s lot to prepare.   If you are like most families, nothing slows down before or after your trip.  So how to get ready on a moment’s notice?  Here’s 3 tips to getting organized for summer travel super easy!

 

Travel checklists

No reason to reinvent the wheel!  Keep a travel check list for you and your family.  It’s the best secret to ensure that all that you need it with you.  A list makes sure you include everything you want for your trip without having to remember it all.  Here are some of my favorite

 

Travel apps

Most destinations have their own apps now too!  It’s easy to log on and learn what’s to offer at that location.  There are offer schedules,coupons, maps and other information too. It’s like an insider’s guide to your destination.  It’s best to log on to the specific location you are headed to but there are general ones as well that make it easy to make the most of your time away.

 

When You  Return

It’s hard after vacation to get back into the groove. There’s lots competing for your time and energy.Plus you are travel weary.

  • Start with clothes. Grab all laundry and get a load started.
  • Pile up all the papers and go through it ruthlessly keeping just bills and most important papers.
  • Try to bring home as few extra papers or odds and ends from your trip as possible.  For articles you pulled during your trip or paper keepsakes,  take a picture with your smart phone or save the article to Evernote.   Leave the free stuff like toiletries, extra sundries or other goodies for another traveler to enjoy.
  • For email do a quick triage and delete as much as you can.  Categorize what remains by the date or day of the week you can work on it.

Have a travel tip that works for you? Share here!

 

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No tears homework time! 5 Tips for Organizing Homework Time

back to school homework time

Homework does not have to be a nightmare!  Kids crying, mom crying and still no homework done can be a thing of the past with these 5 tips for getting homework done.

1. To do homework,  you must know what homework needs to be done.  Be sure your child writes in his/her planner every day. It takes coaching your child about when to write down homework and to write it down each time it is assigned.  This step is the most important because it saves hours.

2. Assign a spot for homework to be completed. Your child’s room is NOT the spot.  A location just off the main hub of life in  your home works well.  Your child can ask for help if needed and you can gently supervise from not too far away too.  Set up this station with a small caddy containing all the essential supplies.

3.Set a time for homework to begin.  Homework time requires a time to be set.  Your child needs a little time off and time to decompress. Having a start time that is non-negotiable helps everyone avoid procrastination. If your child has lots of after school activities, talk through the process and when homework will start.  With both of you on the same page about start times, homework proceeds more smoothly and quickly.

4.  Decide on your paper system for homework. Have a folder marked for homework, where the papers come home and return to school.  Completed homework that is not turned in can be a major frustration.   Be sure  to check with your child to see completed homework in his folder before bedtime.

5.  Use a timer if homework is dragging on and on.  Some times distractions prolong homework. Set a small timer with a clock face at the work table.  Have your child work for 30 minutes, then take a 5 minute break and then repeat the process.   This way real work is being completed.

What are your tips for getting homework organized?

 

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3 Back to School Tips for Busy Parents

back to school tips for busy parents

 

The school year starts off in a few weeks. It’s a mad dash from August to June with dates, activities, homework, dinner and more.  As parents we are striving for a level of organization and sanity.  These three back to school tips will make your year more organized and less chaotic.

Weekly planning time

Most of your kids invitations and information comes in through email and websites.  It’s hard to consolidate it.  Weekly planning time gives you the opportunity to search through email, school sites, teacher sites and other spots where that information is shared.  Gather up your family calendar and task list, as well as a beverage of choice, and spend an  hour gleaning information. It’s also helpful to sit with your middle and early high school students and make a weekly grid of their homework and after school activities.

 

Choose your calendar that works best for you.  If  you love paper planners, use a paper planner. You can always shoot a photo and share it with your family.  Cozi and Google calendar offer online real time access for everyone in your family.  If you like auditory reminders, set your online calendar and “invite” your family for them to receive alerts too.  Use what works best for you!

 

 

Family meeting

There may be some eye rolling, especially from your spouse, when you mention a family meeting. You can call it the family huddle, gathering time or whatever you prefer.  Hosting a time when everyone shares calendar events and family activities makes family efforts run smoother.   There are always last minute things like baking cupcakes and purchasing poster board. But there will be fewer emergencies when you share during a family time.

 

It’s hard to find a good time to meet after you are back to school. It’s in finding what works for your family that will make hosting your family meeting happen.  Some families sit together after church on Sunday. Some families meet at 5 pm each Sunday.  Decide when you can consistently meet and get started. It’s good to make this pay day for allowances too.

 

Family dinner

Family time together can never be undervalued.  A shared meal is the time for us to share our thoughts and feelings.  But how to overcome all those distractions?   Be realistic about your options.  Even if there is only one time a week, set that expectation.  Dinner time should be a no tech time for everyone, including parents.

 

family dinner conversations

Try something new this year for family dinner conversations. This  dinner conversation jar is filled conversation starters.  It’s a fresh take on that same old conversation.

 

Wishing you and your family the best start to the best back to school ever!

 

More tips for back to school here.

 

Teaching your Teen Time Management

teen time management

 

 

Your kids have known how to tell time since elementary school.  But as teens they are late, don’t get chores complete or other things done on time, and they may even turn in papers late to school.  Time management is more than just knowing how to read a clock.  It’s a struggle for teens to know what to do and how to get things done with time management.

 

According to Psychology Today, time management is just one of the four most critical areas for teens today.  With the level of brain development, teens are not fully equipped for time management.  Because brain development continues into our twenties, teens benefit from our coaching them with time management through high school and college.  Teens are unsure of what to do first, how long it will take to complete and how to get started.  Teen time management includes coaching in prioritizing, duration, and initiation/procrastination.

 

Prioritizing

What’s important and should be done first? That’s a question not only teens struggle with.  Parents don’t always agree on this between themselves.  How do we know what’s most important? It can be a matter of focus for all of us.  However,  you can help your child make these decisions by helping them process what needs to be done.

  • Model your priorities and talk about them with your kids.
  • Encourage your teen to write down their priorities or create a vision board to see their priorities.
  • Grid out with your kids the time available and where their priorities fit on the grid.
  • Take time to plan. Have plan A, B and Z.  It’s important to set tasks into motion, but not be rigid.

 

 

Duration

We don’t know how long it takes to get a specific task done. But we do know that we can guess and set a time on our calendar to get a task done.

  • Help your teen create routines that take just 5 minutes. Make their bed, place laundry in the basket and put trash away are 3 small tasks that take less than 5 minutes all together.
  • Create more time awareness with more analog clocks.  Clocks should be in all your spaces to be sure you are gauging your time.
  • Use the 3 minute rule. If it takes less than 3 minutes, just do it.
  • Break big projects or tasks into baby steps.  Map out small sections of a project, assign a time and date to accomplish them.  Nothing seems as overwhelming when it’s broken into smaller chunks.

 

 

Initiation and Procrastination

  • Make it fun to get started.  Find an innovative way to start a project.  You can add in technology or a gadget, work with a partner, or create a new perspective on the project.
  • Schedule the time to start a project. At that time, use a timer, set for 15 minutes, to help you get started.
  • Brain storm the costs of procrastination. What’s at stake? What’s will happen? Is there is compelling reason to do this?
  • Set up a compelling, organized environment.  A clear work space, quiet or white noise, and easy to access school supplies makes it easier to get started.

 

Tools for time management

Planners

 

Focusing apps

 

On your smartphone

  • Clock with timer for getting started and timing how long a task takes
  • Pandora play list for organizing or homework
  • Notes for making lists
  • Reminders and more tech

 

It takes practice, practice, and practice to learn the skills of time management. Don’t get impatient with  your teen on how long it takes.  Every experience is a learning opportunity here.

 

 

 

Back to School and Back to Routines for Everyone

 

back to school and back to routines

Classes have already started in many places and around Houston.  Football season is around the corner.  Knowing its time to get back to routines is part of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Our routines may have faltered during the hot Summer, but these tried and true routines make a difference in easing our stress.   Back to school means back to routines for moms, dads and everyone!

Your Bedtime

It’s easy to get to bed later and later during the Summer.  It stays light late and it is hard to wind down. Get started getting ready for bed earlier so you can get a great night’s rest. Most of us truly need 8 hours of sleep a night to do our best.

 

Your Lists

There seems to be much more on our plate during this time of year. Make it easy with making lists. It takes a lot to keep remembering all that we need to do.  Your list can be digital or paper.  Write stuff down and then prioritize for the day.

 

Organize and take stock

Stuff may get a little chaotic during the Summer.  All of a sudden your closet, your supplies and your pantry are disorganized.  Take a little time during August to get them back to their regular order.  If you have clothes you have not worn all Summer, it’s time to donate them.  Gather your office supplies together.  Do you have  a good routine for putting back your supplies? Simplify your access to items if you have trouble. Straighten items and review what is in your pantry. Create a checklist on paper or with an app to make shopping easier. Just giving each of these areas a little attention will make each day easier.

 

Your Planner

Summer fun is often spontaneous, but Fall has lots and lots of activities coming up.  Get back to the routine of entering dates in your planner as soon as you know them.  Enter all dates from the school calendar, sports calendars, church calendars and any other activities onto your planner so these are all consolidated.  Having all the dates in one spot makes it easy to see and know what is coming up.

 

Check out my Back to School board on pinterest for other Back to School ideas.

Teaching Your Kids Time Management

kids time management kids

 

Telling time is part of our school curriculum in second grade.  Our kids learn about analog clocks, what time it is and how to tell time. They see digital clocks everywhere in our homes. Telling time is just the first part of time management.  More than just telling time, time management is about prioritizing what to do when, how long a task takes, and breaking a task into smaller steps for completion.   Teaching your kids time management skills takes time, practice and patience.

 

Time management basics

Time management is about prioritizing, duration, and chunking.

  • We prioritize what tasks need to be done when we have a date or deadline.  How do we know what’s important when there is neither of these?  Tasks become a priority when we have a clear value for ourselves personally.  We have parents shaped those values with our family.
  • We know the duration of a task, or how long it takes, from experiences we have.  Each of us can do the same task but have it take different amounts of time depending on many parts.  Allowing ourselves extra time to complete a task makes it easier.
  • Chunking is breaking a task into manageable chunks.  We can’t always complete a task in a certain amount of time, but if we break it into smaller bits we can be assured of completion.

 

Time Management for elementary age kids

As parents are a “talking the talk and walking the walk” of our priorities for our kids.  In elementary school most kids have a variety of academics and extracurricular activities.  We have set up extracurricular activities for our kids to have varied experiences.  Our priorities for their experiences shape their activities.

  • If your family values wellness, choose one activity that includes exercise such as baseball, dance or gymnastics for each child.
  • If your family values spirituality, attend weekly at church or synagogue or bible study.
  • If your family values academic success, establish a daily homework time starting at an early hour.

Keep mindful of how many priorities your family has.  Weigh the value of over committing to an abundance of extracurricular activities.  All activities are good, but which is best for your family.  Your kids can be over scheduled in elementary school and feel stressed by being rushed between activities.

 

Help your kids learn how long a task takes by establishing time for them to work on a chore or a project.  We often are unaware or unsure of how long it takes to unload the dishwasher, look up information on a computer or complete a worksheet as homework.

  • Keep a time log and see how long an activity takes.
  • Set a timer and see how long an activity takes.
  • Use a time timer and see how long an activity takes.

 

Breaking tasks into management pieces takes practice too.  It could be a school related project or organizing your space, but every project can be broken down into smaller units to complete.

  • Use the pomodoro method with a timer, segmenting your work into 20 minutes time slots.
  • Use a mind map and map out a plan for each step of a project.
  • Make a list of the steps in a project.

 

Each of these tools helps you model time management and engage with them in the process. We always need improved processes ourselves.  Teaching our kids will make us use these tools more effectively too.

 

Check out more on time management here.

 

Time is on my side, yes it is!