Hurray! It's the last day of school ! You take a deep breath...ahh. No more running to 5 activities during the week, rushing to get dinner on the table or having to answer the question- "Mom, when is school over?"
If you thought the year was just a little too hectic, I've put together some great organizing tips to prepare you for the year to come. These are easy to follow practical tips to start NOW! Don't wait until September - planning is the key to a smooth, stress free school year.
- RECORDS AND DOCUMENTS
Thank goodness birth certificates and social security cards are not needed very often. They should be kept in a safety deposit box - although it may not be the most convenient place, it is the safest option.
But if your child is entering a new school or starting kindergarden you will need these documents plus one or more proofs of residency (most accept a utility bill,health insurance card, bank statement, aggreement of sale/lease, passport, statement of homeowner's insurance, tax receipt, utility "turn on" service, vehicle registration, voter registration card, or welfare card).
You will also need proof of immunizations as well. The list can be obtained from your pediatrician. Now, if you have moved (like I've done 3 times) it is very important to get a complete list from your doctor before you move - it is more difficult to do this after the move. Plus you don't want your childs registration process to be affected because you have to wait for these important documents.
Most kindergarden registrations occur early in the year around April but some are even earlier. So, check with your local school district about times so that you can have all of your documents ready and in order.
- DOCTOR AND DENTIST APPOINTMENTS
Once school starts I feel like my appointment calender fills up very quickly.
If possible (depending on the date of your child's birthday) schedule an annual exam during the summer months. If that's not possible try to schedule it at a time when everyone's schedule is less demanding. For. example, my child's birthday is at the end of December (a hectic time of year) so I schedule her annual physical the first or second week of January.
This tactic also works for dentist appointments. These are usually done twice a year. Schedule one in the summer. That leaves only one left to be scheduled during the school year. Apply this idea to eye exams or any other special needs your child may have.
One last note - if your school requires copies of proof of an exam, always be ready and make a copy for yourself or have your physician keep one for you. Once you give the original away most doctor offices are now charging to fill out original health or sports form once the yearly physical is done. It is crazy to pay 5 or 10 dollars to get another one completed when you could just hand them a copy.
- SUPPLIES, SUPPLIES, AND MORE SUPPLIES
Sometimes it seems endless the amount of items schools require now. Things that were supplied years ago are now on lists for children to bring to school - tissues, t-shirts, and a host of miscellaneous items
Schools are now making it easier for parents (it's about time!). Many schools now use websites where each grade or teacher has a list of what your child will need for the coming school year. That gives you the opportunity to shop when you have the time and also look for sales that are usually better in the summer. If you wait unitl after school starts the sales are over and you are at the mercy of the retailer and his prices.
As a mom this is the area I used to dread the most. Three kids with different likes and sizes used to equal disaster. I no longer dread shopping for back to school clothes.
First, start with an assessment of what your kids already own. Depending on where you live shorts and t-shirt will take you a long way into the beginning of the school year. So, even though most stores have school clothes out before August (some even at the end of July!) I buy only what I really need right away and wait until the sales start in mid-September. There is still a good selection and you will definitely get more for your money.
Secondly, find a brand that fits and stick with it. My son for example fits in a certain brand of pants like a charm. When he outgrows them I just order another pair in the next size. This works great for kids who hate trying on clothes and moms who hate returning to stores on a regular basis.
Third, order online! If you know what you want why drive to the store? Many online retailers have free shipping and have a better size and color selection. If you haven't explored this option yet give it a try - you may be surprised at how much time you save.
- EMERGENCY BACK-UP PLAN
It's ten o'clock and it's snowing harder than expected- your child is going to be dismissed early. Your 8 year old became sick at school and you are 2 hours away on business. What is your plan?
Whether you child is in daycare or regular school a good solid back-up plan is essential. The last thing you want to worry about is your child. Your back-up plan should include the following:
First - A responsible adult - Yes, no older children here. You must designate someone who will be responsible to pick up your child at school or the bus stop if needed. This means they should be able to drive.
Secondly - Correct safety seat - Does your child still use a safety seat or booster? Make sure your alernate person has one readily available to them. It may cost you more but we are talking safety here and by the way - it's the law!
Third - Make sure everyone knows the plan including your child. This way they are not surprised when someone else comes to pick them up at the bus stop or at school. Most schools have strict guidelines concerning this so please check out your own school policy regarding an alternate pick-up person.
Fourth - Make communication easy - Store important numbers in your cell phone or planner for fast and easy access. When you are in a hurry or in an emergency situation this is not the time to be fumbling for numbers.
- STUDY AREA
All parents want their children to have good study habits. Reinforce this by thinking about where your children will do their homework.
First - Think of the space like a mini-adult work station. Functionally, they do the same thing. Adapt it by adding fun accesories and school supplies.
Second - Consider your lighting - This is one of the most neglected items on the list. Make sure your child has enough lighting in whatever are you choose.
Third - A comfortable chair - This may seem obvious but consider that these little wonders are smaller and may need a special chair for longer projects.
- PAPERS, PAPERS, AND MORE PAPERS
If your children bring home as many papers on a daily basis as mine then you need a good plan to organize these as soon as they reach your door. Here are some ideas to tame that endless paper trail:
First - Flyers - We all know these - they inform us of special events, sports registrations, field trips, or some other activity. Decide what events are important, mark them on your calender, and throw the flyer away! These papers add up so fast so you have to take action on these EVERY DAY!
Second - Permission Slips/Report Card - Anything that needs a signature needs to be signed right away and placed in that child's respective backpack. Doing this takes care of the paper immediatelyand reduces the chance of it getting misplaced or forgotten.
Third - Artwork - There are so many organizing tips here that I devoted a whole section to it. For all organizing tips on artwork please visit
Organizing Kids' Artwork - The "Art" Of Organization.
- COMMAND CENTRAL
This is my version of the little black book - although mine is much larger! Keep a book with all your important organizing information in it for anyone in the household to reference.
I'm the organizer of the family and I can't really expect my husband, family member, or babysitter to remember every single detail about my kids or home on a regular basis. Their schedules, doctors and school activities are always changing.
So, I decided to keep a book that I have divided up into categoris such as health records, school activities, childcare information and house reference.
So, if my husband is home and the lights go out he knows exactly where to find the emergency number to call or if our babysitter needs to find out our child's schedule change she can just look it up. It really saves you from writing information over and over again.
- IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?
Well, don't you wish you had one at your disposal? Unfortunately most of us don't. However that doesn't mean you can't be prepared for any small emergency or illness.
Before school starts, take inventory of your medicine cabinet. Decide what is still good (not expired and age appropriate) and throw out the rest. Then stock up on simple items you may need during the school year. The list of kid's ailments can go on and on from fevers to upset stomachs. I've learned to keep a few items on hand so that I don't have to run out to the store with my other kids in tow before or after school. This has really been a great help and time saver. Plus for parents out there you know the last thing you want to do is have to take you child to the store for something as simple as cough medicine. So, check with your doctor for suggestions of over the counter age appropriate medicine to keep on hand.
- MASTER CALENDER
Choose a calender of your liking and make a decision where you will keep it. Choose a place that is easy to reference. The easier it is to get to the better chance you have of using it successfully. Mine is next to our coat rack where all coats and backpacks are kept. I always take one last quick glance before heading out the door as my double check for the day.
Make sure it has large enough squares to mark several events in one block. If you have more than one child, use a different color pen for each child's activity. This may seem like extra work in the beginning but when your in a hurry just looking for the notes in red makes it worthwhile.
Back to school time is an exciting and stressful time for both parents and kids. The key is to eliminate as much stress as possible by being organized and ready for the year ahead.
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