So if you follow me, you know that I’ve been in the organizing business for thirteen years now. I started when my kids were young and I was for the most part a “stay at home” mom. Things have changed as my family has grown up. What I used to like about back to school and back to routines is now a double edged sword. While the kids will be out of the house for the most part of the day, some things are harder. Like trying to wake them up, or remember to do homework, or remembering everything they need for after school sports, and helping them with homework (my kids passed my math levels a few years ago.) So while the stress is different, I still strive to teach my children organizational skills that I think will carry them on to their first job in the “real world” and hopefully make them better students. I do still believe that an organized person can do anything and be productive. While I watch the TV segments and read the articles in magazines about “back to school” I sometimes think, I’ve heard it all but sometimes the bright backpack or cute locker accessories are not really what it’s all about. So I’ve compiled here five of my favorite things which just might help you and your teenagers get organized this school year:
Time Timer – Because in a digital age, kids really don’t see time as concrete. This device makes it visual. Whenever I say to my kids “quarter of” or “quarter after” an hour, they give me a quizzical look. This only has meaning if you are looking at a round clock with hands. So consequently they may not understand how much they can get done in 15 minutes or half an hour. Try this test: ask your child how long will homework take? If they need to break it down by subject, do that. Then set the Time Timer and see how close they were to the estimate. Going forward they should have a better feel for how long it takes to do 2 pages of math, read a chapter in Science, etc. and that leads to better planning. If you have 4 hours of homework one night, you may have to skip a practice or give up TV
Planner – This is a great tool for writing down all your daily TO Do’s in each subject as well as keeping track of all your after school activities. With everything on one week or month at a glance, you can plan ahead for big projects. And having every s ubject written on the left hand column forces you to remember each one and consider it by the end of the day. I’ve us ed a planner since my first job out of college and I can’t imagine keeping track of things any other way!
Coat Tree – or a series of hooks in a mudroom setting is a great place to keep “activity bags” hanging and ready to go. Whether it’s a sport or dance class or karate, a small sinch ask or tote bag is a great place to keep all you need for an after school activity. Just grab it and go! The coat tree is also a great way for girls to keep all their scarves, purses and hats off the floor and easily accessible using vertical space.
Family charging station for iPhones – I can’t say enough about this subject. It serves multiple functions to have the whole family’s iPhones out of the bedrooms for the night. One, you’ll remember to charge them, Two, you won’t be awakened by beeps and buzzes to disturb your sleep. And three, the kids will not be texting late into the evening when they should be doing homework or sleeping. Decide on a time that works for your family and put the phones to bed. I strongly encourage parents to have the password for your kids’ devices so you can randomly check them. I tell my kids, if you don’t want me to see it, you shouldn’t be texting it or tweeting it, or sending that picture.
The 5 subject notebook – it’s been around awhile but it makes so much sense. Keep all your major subjects in one place. Often the divider is a pocket folder so you can keep loose papers here too. Less for your kids to remember to bring to class and bring home. When one gets filled, buy another for the next semester. This is great for middle school up through college.