September 11, 2017

The Essential Back to School Organizing List

Despite the marketing worlds best efforts to convince us otherwise, it is still OFFICIALLY summer until September 22nd, and the Room to Breathe team is doing everything we can to soak up these last few sunny weeks before we inevitably embrace crunchy leaves, sweater weather, and all things pumpkin spice.

That said, the transition from August to September can be a big one, particularly if you have people in your household heading back to school. So even though we will be diligently barbecuing and sun soaking until the first signs of frost tell us to pack it in, we also wanted to share some tips to help get your home and life organized, ensuring your back to school transition runs smoothly.

CALENDARS ARE KEY! Whether your preference is an online calendar, a hand-written agenda, or a family bulletin board, having one centralized place to track appointments, lessons, field trips, birthday parties... even meal planning, is definitely a good idea!

Looking for a little inspiration to setup or overhaul your schedule tracking? We've got you covered!

MAKE HOMEWORK FUN. In a perfect world, kids would quietly do their homework in their bedroom- not getting distracted by toys or technology, not making a mess, and without being nagged. But the reality is, they want to be near us and near where the action is- which, in most homes, is the kitchen or living room. So why not embrace that and set up a homework station in the area they want to be in? Designate a space where the kids can sit down and focus to get it all done, and where you can observe and offer a helping hand when needed. 

(We shared some great links for homework station inspiration in an archived blog post HERE.)

MAKE PINTEREST YOUR NEW BFF. Social media gets a lot of flack, but Pinterest is a site that has the potential to help save you time and get organized. It is loaded with incredible recipes (have a quick search of 'best slow cooker meals' - you wont be disappointed!) and is the perfect spot to spark your inspiration for everything from creative teachers gifts to inexpensive party planning.

A cool idea we recently came across is to set up two recipe boards- the first is where you pin any and all recipes you find that sound delicious and you want to try out. The second board is called 'tried, tested, and true' - a place where you can re-pin the recipes you have tried and loved and you will want to make again. You can even invite other friends on pinterest to collaborate, adding their best tried recipes to this shared board.

A 'BORROWED BASKET' TO KEEP YOU SANE. Keeping a basket near the frontdoor for things that need to be returned - items borrowed from friends, library books, thing to be exchanged at the store... is a game changer! Having one central place to collect all the things that don't otherwise have a home will immediately lower the hecticness level in even the most organized home.

NO NEED TO BECOME AN ART CRITIC. YET. Keep a few art projects on display and fill a bin with all the rest. Don’t decide which ones to toss or keep yet, accumulate them all throughout the year and over the summer you can sort back through and decide. If you are feeling really advantageous, take photos of all the completed art and make a photo collage to hangup or add to a keepsake box or family scrapbook. 

A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING (AND EVERYTHING IN IT'S PLACE). Making a habit or routine of keeping items in the exact same place everyday will save you much mental anguish. Everyone in our house knows- water bottles, indoor shoes, and any other items that need to go to school daily are to be stored IN backpacks. We also keep a small zipper pouch inside that serves as a designated spot for things like pizza day money or forms that need to be returned to teachers.

DARE WE SAY PAIN-FREE LUNCH PACKING? The newest lunch trend over the last couple of years seems to be bento-style lunch boxes. I will admit, I was a bit of skeptic at first, but after two full school years of packing lunches this way, I will wholeheartedly attest they are worth every bit of hype! Having small compartments makes it easy to designate which item should go in which spot, taking all the guess work out of what to grab from the fridge. A spot for fruit, a spot for veg, a sandwich and a little treat, and you are done. Plus, they are better for the enviroment and our health- no waste and no need for overpriced, prepackaged food!

Be sure to check out Pinterest for endless bento box lunch inspiration!

A FILE FOR REPORT CARDS AND SCHOOL PHOTOS. Create a file folder in your filing cabinet for school photos and report cards. Each year, keep adding to the file, and soon you have a really neat time capsule of year after year photos and progress reports. Feel free to use this folder for team photos and swimming report cards too.

DON'T FORGET THE SNACKS! Set up an easy access station full of nutritious and healthy snacks that all members of your home can easily access. It fills the void after school, and allows for a quick grab-and-go on the way out the door to hockey practice or meetings. Plus we promise you wont miss the constant 'I'm still hungry!' requests between the hours of 3 and 6.

This blog post was written by Jessica Thorburn - Our Vancouver-based Marketing and Administration Superstar.

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