Q: “I’m so tired after school is over that everything my children bring home waits until August. Then I scramble to unpack all the supplies, papers, folders, etc., just before school starts to get us ready for the new year. I want to set up properly so we can clean up from the school year, get ready for summer, and be ready for back to school. I don’t know what to do first or even what to do. Can you help me get organized? — Where to startMom
After a busy school year juggling kids’ activities, homework and school obligations, and family and work responsibilities, it’s no wonder we all feel exhausted after the last day of school. Many of us struggle to find the motivation to plan for summer, let alone prepare for a new school year.
Here are some practical tips that helped me when my children were younger. Use them as a roadmap to get organized and ready for a successful summer.
Summer plan: Getting ready for school
- Week One: As soon as school ends for the summer, begin the process of organizing/cleaning up the school by decluttering filing cabinets, folders, and notebooks. Don’t keep all old assignments or handouts, but keep study plans and guides, quizzes and exams, and final versions of handouts and projects. You never know when they might come in handy for a future class or younger sibling.
- Week Two: Do your kids have summer homework or assigned readings? Ask your children to write their homework in their new planners and on a family calendar where everyone can see them. This ensures that there is no panic a week before school that the books have not been read or the report has not been written. It’s also always a good idea to schedule summer activities around their summer homework (back to school). Get all the books your kids might need at the start of summer so they have plenty of time to get a head start.
[Free Resource: 20 Secrets to a Smarter Summer]
Bonus Tip: Leave the books near a comfortable chair or in the beach/pool bag for easy and convenient reading.
- Week Three: Empty remaining school supplies from backpacks and desk drawers. Take inventory, test ink pens, and store all reusable supplies in clearly labeled plastic bins. Make a list of what you have and what you need, then take advantage of the end-of-school-year sales.
- Week Four: Organize the designated homework area in your home. Dust the desk, empty the trash cans, change the desk lamp bulb, sharpen pencils, print out schedules for upcoming sports or theater and hang new calendars on bulletin boards. Rearranging this space for the new school year may encourage your student to use the area when the time comes.
- Week Eight: After the relaxing and rejuvenating balmy summer, it can be difficult to shift into “back-to-school mode”. To ease this transition, restart routines about two weeks before the first day of school. This includes pushing back bedtime, establishing back-to-school screen times, and practicing getting up and out on time in the morning.
[eBook: Declutter Your Life (and Home! and Office!)]
Summer plan: organization tips
- Right now: Summer tends to hit us hard and fast once the kids are out of school. Take the time now to create your summer calendar to feel better prepared. Add vacations, sports activities or summer camps for children, family reunions or parties, and any event you commit to attending. Be sure to use this time to plan for contingencies! Leave room in your calendar for relaxing summer days and spontaneous fun. Put the calendar somewhere your whole family can easily access it (the kitchen is a great place). This way everyone in your house knows what’s going on during the summer.
- Don’t let a last-minute request for a trip to the park or a date at the pool with friends catch you off guard! Keep a tote bag in your car filled with sunscreen, bug spray, extra clothes and swimwear, towels, and snacks. This way you’ll be ready for any impromptu adventures.
- Are you going on a road trip this summer? Keep boredom at bay by making individual travel binders. Place markers and pens in a soft case that clips into the binder. Print coloring pages, tic-tac-toe cards and other games your kids can play in the car or on the plane. I also used to fill cheap shower baskets from the Dollar Store with snacks for my kids. This idea was seriously awesome!
- Children usually have more free time during the summer, so this is the perfect opportunity to enlist their help around the house. Whether you work together to create a chore chart or make one for them, this is a great opportunity to teach responsibility and accountability. Include any household chores that need to be done each week and any big projects (garage cleaning, anyone?) that you may have saved for the hot summer months.
Bonus Tip: Involve your children in your summer activities and plans. When my son was younger and needed entertainment, I involved him in the chores I was doing. This included time in the kitchen, gardening outside, and yes, even laundry. All of these activities are more fun to do when a partner joins you. And your children will develop lifelong skills.
- Keep summer snacking easy and healthy by setting up snack stations in the fridge and pantry. When my kids were younger, I set up designated “take-out” stations filled with pre-portioned healthy snacks and drinks on Sunday nights. It was my saving grace since I wasn’t in the kitchen making snacks all day, and they were able to develop that muscle of independence when it came to eating. A win-win for everyone.
Ideas for pantry items could include trail mixes, whole grain crackers, all-fruit bars, nuts, popcorn, applesauce, and nut butter packets. Stock your fridge with string cheese, apple slices, Greek yogurt, sliced vegetables, single-serve hummus cups, and even pre-made sandwiches.
If you want more ideas for end of school and summer organization tips. please visit our website at orderoochaos.com.
Enjoy the summer!
Back-to-school summer plan: next steps
ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel of Order Out of Chaos will answer questions from ADDitude readers on everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone rooms and mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.
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