Getting organized to welcome the school year
In just over a week, another school year will be underway. Will you be greeting it with happiness or dread?
It's hard to see the short summer season come to an end, but a lot of the parents I talk to will be welcoming the return to routine.
For those who work outside of the home, there's an enormous gap between the two months of summer holidays our kids get and the one or two weeks of vacation we have available to take care of them. Stay-at-home parents may feel they're running out of ways to entertain the kids by now, nevermind the budget for all those enriching camps and lessons. And for those in the middle trying to work from home, a dirth of childcare may have left them dreadfully behind on business tasks or burnt out from clocking late hours at the computer after the kids are in bed.
While I'd like a few more idyllic weekend outings with my kids, I have to admit that I'm among those who are looking forward to fall. I hate to say it because I adore summer trips to the beach and picnics and all that stuff. But my life as a parent who works full time isn't set up to allow for as many of these as I'd like. By the time mid-August hits, my career-mom guilt is at an apex.
So I like to focus on the awesome aspects of September, and enjoy preparing for the new school year.
I was inspired by the women I interviewed for today's story on getting organized for a great September transition.
I couldn't fit absolutely all of their great advice in the article so I thought I'd share here a few extra nuggets of wisdom that have really stuck with me.
IT'S NOT ABOUT BEING ORGANIZED SO EVERYTHING LOOKS GOOD
The enviably organized Stacy Crew, who quite literally wrote the book on being an Organized Mom, made this very good point.
"Getting organized is about so much more than having a house that looks like it belongs in a Pottery Barn catalogue. It’s about creating a lifestyle that allows your family to enjoy time together. If I’m sitting there trying to connect with my kids but I realize that I’ve got four loads of laundry to fold and dishes in the sink and blog entries to write, I’m really not going to be in the moment."
And this one:
"It's about simplifying and looking at the big picture. What life do I want for my family? What goals do we have as a unit? If it's to be doing every sporting activity out there, so be it, but a lot of families don't know why they're doing what they're doing."
YOUR KIDS CAN DO MORE
Family life coach Laurel Crossley, otherwise known as OptiMom, is a big proponent of not doing everything for our kids, but instead, empowering them to do things for themselves:
"Kids would like to be part of the process and most of us do everything for them except for maybe asking, 'What colour would you like?' My kids are extremely independent. I did that knowing they are going to have to go out in this world and do things on their own. They need to know how to do laundry, wash floors and get themselves a snack."
Your kids might not be ready to mop the floors just yet, but perhaps they could get their shoes on without your help. Bonus: It'll save your back.
YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S FOR DINNER
Lindsay Harris, a busy mompreneur whose business Glow Baby helps other parents keep organized, emphasized just how stressful things can be when you don't know what's for dinner - particularly on school nights.
Our interview left me determined to be sure my on-again, off-again menu planning was 100 per cent on for the start of the school year. So this weekend I began to scratch out a plan for dinners the first two weeks of school. My plan is to repeat this two-week menu for the second part of September and then start fresh in October with new dinner ideas.
Tonight I'll remember to bring her Glow Baby Menu Planner home from the office and start using it for planning menus and making grocery lists.
After immersing myself in all things back-to-school these last few weeks, I've got to say that I think my time will be better spent on organizational tasks like stocking the pantry and freezer and decluttering the hats and backpacks by the front door, rather than on acquiring absolutely every bit of gear the kids will need for the whole school year. Winter boots can wait a few weeks.
Please check out our back-to-school page for more great ideas!