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Does this Sound Familiar?
It’s the end of the day and you and your children just arrive home. Your son(s)/daughters(s) drop their backpacks at the door or wherever they can find room. Before you get your keys out of the door, they are whining for a snack, like they didn’t eat anything all day. When you tell them they need to start on their homework, it is followed by negotiation sessions. Then, when they finally accept that their homework needs to be done, they spend the next 20 minutes trying to find a sharpened pencil, a glue stick that is not dried up and scissors that were last seen in the basement when they were building a fort!
Meanwhile, you are trying to unpack their lunches and sort through the papers that are pouring out of their backpacks. Oh and by the way also trying to start dinner at the same time.
Organizing your After School Routine
I certainly didn’t need to imagine this situation! Did you? This has been our reality for the past few years. The after school/pre-dinner period is often very chaotic with everything that needs to be done before dinner, sports and/or other activities. This year I decided I needed to try something new. I developed some simple strategies that addresses each one of these issues and explained the new system to the kids. Each of these tips takes 10 minutes or less to implement! Note the approximate time each tip should take to set up in parentheses.
5 easy organization tips to simplify your after school routine
Create a Designated Drop Off Location for Backpacks and Lunches (5 minutes)
This is a super easy 5 minute task that does wonders for reducing clutter and saving time. You do not need an elaborate mudroom storage set up that costs hundreds of dollars. It can be as simple as hanging command hooks on the inside of your coat closet or on a designated space in your entry way. We used command hooks until we upgraded to an Ikea storage unit last year for our mudroom. If you choose to use command hooks, just be sure to choose a large one and check the weight it holds on the front of the package.
As for lunch bags, I started having my children unpack them from their backpacks before hanging them up and placing them in a designated spot on the kitchen counter every single day. Do what will work best for your family. It can be a simple as a command hook or as elaborate as an organization system. The key is explaining the new system to your children and enforcing it.
Assign a Designated Bin for Papers that Need to be Reviewed/Signed (1 minute)
In addition, you want to have a place for everyone to drop off papers that need to be reviewed. This seems like a no-brainer idea, but I was guilty of shuffling school papers around from the kitchen counter to the dining room while cooking, from the dining room table to the living room when eating, etc. By the time you have time to look at the papers you may have completely forgotten where you have placed them or worse, you may have forgot about them all together. I know I have missed a few fundraiser/field trip forms this way. A designated bin provides a specific place for papers to be placed and acts as a reminder when placed near school gear. I purchase a 3 Tier Desk Tray Organizer, which I love! This gives both of my kids their own tray and there’s one left over for my papers too!
Snack station (10 minutes)
Sometimes a snack makes the all the difference between a happy or snappy kid. My boys definitely get hangry after school. I always feel that a healthy snack and some water really helps restore them back to their sweet selves. Often if I am picking them up, I meet them at school with snacks in hand. I set up at snack station in our pantry that they can either grab from when they get home or I grab on my way to pick them up.
Homework Caddy (5 minutes)
How can something so simple, be such a life saver. This back to school hack has saved us all from some meltdowns. At the beginning of the year, I stocked up on back to school supplies while on sale and then fill it up with anything and everything my child will need for his homework. As a result, when it’s time to start, I just bring it out and he can get right to work. Just make sure they put everything back in for the next day.
What you need: A Caddy and School Supplies
Here is what we put in our caddy: Pencils, Pens, Crayons, Markers, Highlighter, Mini Stapler, Scissors, Flash Cards, Erasers and Glue Sticks
Homework Punch Card (1 minute)
Tired of nagging your kids to do their homework and all the whining that comes with it? I created a free homework punch printable that allows you to reward your child for getting started and finishing their homework without a fuss and/or without you needing to nag them. Every time they succeed at this, they get a hole punch/sticker/check mark on their card. When they get 10, they get a reward that you have agreed upon.
Our new routine has been in place for a full week now. The children are getting the hang of it, with a few reminders here and there. The results have definitely been well worth the few minutes invested in setting it up.
The key to a new family routine is explaining what is being implemented and why. Then clearly laying out responsibilities and enforcing it. Yes, you will need your kids to be on board, but children thrive on routine and knowing what is expected of them. It will also give them a sense of responsibility and lighten your load, Once they know they are expected to do each afternoon, things can begin to flow better. Designating a spot for everything makes their life easier too. Overwhelmed? You don’t have to do all of these things at once. Start by implementing one of these tips and grow from there. I am confident you will see a change for the better!
Want some more organization ideas that can be done in 10 minute intervals? Get my 10 Minute Tidy Up Challenge Printable!