SummarySimplifying is a constant work in progress. Abby shares ten simple organizational hacks to make your new school year more orderly, peaceful and manageable.
Summer has flown by ever so quickly and we are once again beginning a new school year. Our family has worked hard de-cluttering and organizing during the summer, but we have learned that simplifying is a constant work in progress, and can never be really accomplished in one fell swoop.
Although the task of simplifying can be a life-time project, there are little things we can do in our homes so things don’t pile up during the year and distract us from our homeschooling journey.
So I’ve created a list of organizational hacks that have worked in our Little Home in the Hills and would love to share them with all our homeschooling families:
1. School Boxes For Each Child
School boxes are a hit in our home. It is the perfect place to put each child’s school books, papers, supplies or any supplemental books they want to read during the school year.
It is a great catch-all box for each child’s paperwork, sketches, doodles and drawings.
2. Book Baskets
Book baskets are a wonderful way of strewing favorite books throughout our home so children can read at their leisure.
Our Science and History Basket is parked in our kitchen so children can read while I make dinner.
Our children’s favorite nature books are placed in a bin inside the hallway bath.
Having these Book Baskets ensures that their favorite books will always have a home and makes pick-up time a lot easier for everyone.
3. Use Labels
Make sure your containers are labeled so things can easily be put back in their places. In our school room, we have baskets labeled as Pens, Pencils, Crayons and Miscellaneous. More specific plastic boxes are labeled Colored Pencils, Markers, Highlighters, Oil Pastels, Paint Supplies, etc.
For our Arts and Crafts closet, we use a basket with labeled gallon bags for each activity.
4. Lists, Lists and More Lists
Lists are a wonderful way of communicating schedules and routines to our children. In our home, our daytime routine and chore list are posted in the kitchen for everyone to see. Below is our nighttime routine list posted on the door of our hallway bath.
The beauty of these lists is that they not only help foster independence in our children but also teaches them essential life skills and good habits at an early age.
5. Schedule a Quick Pick-Up Time
We typically schedule a quick pick-up at the end of each homeschool day. All books and papers go back inside each child’s school box and common areas such as the living room and dining room are straightened out before Papa comes home.
We started this routine rather early on in our homeschooling journey and the children are motivated to clean up because they know that dinner will be served shortly after their Quick Pick-Up Time.
6. Recycle Using The Five Minute Rule
Our children love to draw and paint, and they had a difficult time letting go of their work when they were very young. As they grew older, we were able to teach them to begin letting go of their work using the “Five Minute Rule”.
Typically, if they spend five minutes or less on a drawing or painting, then they can recycle these papers to “help save the trees”. We remind them that every time they recycle, new pieces of paper can be made so they can to make new drawings in the future. Oh, and having recycling bins close by really helps!
7. Catch-All Box or Bucket
Having a Catch-All Bucket is a tremendous help during our Quick Pick-Up times. It is a good place to stash things, especially when we are in a hurry. Just remember that all the contents of this Catch-All Box or Bucket need to be put back in their places when it is full.
8. Put Everything Back Day
Fridays are very light homeschooling days for our family, and this is a day when things can be put back in their proper homes.
Our family also sets aside the First Friday of each month not only to put things back, but also to de-clutter and give the house a good clean. Our children have dubbed this tradition our “First Friday Reparation Cleaning Day.” Every First Friday, we go to Mass, come home, offer our day for a higher purpose, and get right to work!
9. Gas Stop Equals Tidy Van
My children consider our van their second home. We spend tons of time “vanschooling”—everyone listening to audiobooks, saints’ stories, and songs while we drive hither and yon. So the van can get very messy very quickly.
To help keep the van tidy, we have a grocery bag hanging on the front seat armrest and use this as our trusty trash bag. We also have plenty plastic bags tucked away in the storage compartment in the very back of the van. This ensures that these bags are out of reach of the little ones.
Every time we gas up, the children get a grocery bag and try to fill it up with trash before the gas pump stops. Then I simply throw the bag away when I wrap up my transaction. Not only is this a really fun game but we also end up with a tidy van each time. :-)
10. Seek Heaven’s Help
We can only do so much on our own, so call on Heaven often to help you get through your day. Remember that our heavenly family is there at all times to give us aid when we need it the most.
Doing so gives us the heavenly perspective that our goal is not visual perfection. Our ultimate goal is Heaven and we can offer everything up, including simplifying, out of a deep and abiding love for our God and our family.
A blessed school year to one and all!