Back to School: Getting (and Staying) Organized

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When the kids go back to school, it feels like a fresh start for all of us. I find myself making New Years-type promises to myself. Like the resolutions I make in January, some stick, and some I forget within a few weeks. Every year I vow to get organized and, even better, stay organized throughout the school year. 

The process starts now so I wanted to share the things that have worked, and also the goals I have for this new school year.  

1. Meal Prep Mastered

Well, “mastered” is a strong word. Maybe I’m better off calling this section “Lowering Your Expectations.” Our kids play Fall sports so that means several nights a week we won’t be home until 8pm or later. That means I need to be smart about meal planning.

I basically treat groceries like online shopping. I use the grocery pickup service at my local store. I have the store tab open on my computer all week and add as I think of things. (I know, I know. Many of you would prefer to pick your own produce, but this saves me so much time that I’m willing to roll the dice on a bad avocado.) 

On Sundays, I cook two whole chickens in the instant pot. I shred the meat and divide it into containers. Depending on seasoning and sauces, it becomes easy chicken fajitas, chicken curry, or even chicken salad. Is it boring? Sometimes. But it’s fast and super simple. The other nights we depend on spaghetti with meat sauce that I pack with veggies, easy pork tenderloin, and of course, leftovers. As I said, lowering expectations has worked wonders during this busy season. 

2. A Weekly Meeting

The thought of having a family meeting every week makes my twenty-year-old self roll her eyes but I can’t imagine life without it. Typically, our family meetings happen on a Sunday evening as my husband and kids are eating one of the meals I’ve prepared. While I have them captive at the table I ask about practice and game schedules, tests, and any appointments for the week. It takes just a few minutes but it has come to save my sanity. 

3. Countertop Calendar

With everyone in the family always going in different directions, we’ve grown to depend on a desktop calendar. Lola drives herself most places, but it’s nice to at least know where she is. We just got this calendar and it gives a view of everyone’s daily activities. My kids are old enough to enter their activities in a Google Calendar and it populates in the frame. 

You can also print a page from a shared digital calendar and post it somewhere in the kitchen. Having it easily accessible and visible, for us, is key. 

4. Out With The Old, In With The New

We have a rule in our family: if you want to buy new clothes, you need to sort through and donate your old ones. We take everything out of their closets and drawers. Nothing goes back in unless it fits and there’s an intention to wear it. My kids, as it turns out, like to hoard every free t-shirt from every camp they’ve ever attended. Are you sure you want that fluorescent yellow shirt from Vacation Bible School 6 years ago? 

If clothes are in good condition but no longer fit, we donate to a local charity called Note in the Pocket. Then we do most of our shopping online. After many dressing room breakdowns, we’ve decided it’s best for everyone’s mental health. They can try on at home and return what doesn’t work. Our favorites are Amazon, Zappos, and Nike.

5. Keep Track of Who Is Coming and Going

The garage is where all the action happens at our house. Basically, everyone comes and goes from the house through it. We recently installed the new myQ Smart Garage® Video Keypad so we can easily keep track of daily traffic in and out of the house.

Unlike other cameras around our home, the myQ Smart Garage Video Keypad lets me monitor who is coming and going (kids, friends, neighbors), plus manage and control who I let in (dog walker, service provider) – anytime, from anywhere with the myQ app. Through the myQ app, I can easily create and manage personalized PIN codes, set limits on days and times codes can be used, and get notifications when the garage is accessed, or someone/something is near the garage.  

And, let’s face it, kids aren’t always great about checking in, but with a Smart Garage Video Keypad, I get a notification when kids get home from school –  more reliable than forgetful texts.  Everyone has their own code, so I know exactly which family member is coming and going. My kids love making videos on the camera to announce their arrival and departure so we know where they are. It’s fun for them, and peace of mind for me. 

Feel free to check in with me in October to see if these plans stick. Let me know in the comments what helps you stay organized during this hectic season.