Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Getting Organized for School 2010: Starting the Night Before

Wouldn’t you love to have a peaceful, stress-free morning tomorrow? Starting the night before can help eliminate the rush and push, getting your day off to a pleasant and calm start. 

We have already seen the results of our girls not preparing adequately the night before, and school has only been in session four days - last minute scrambles for items, homework left at home, grouchiness, missing the bus, etc. I applaud those who prepare ahead of time and try to keep my cool when others don't.

Getting Your Child Organized

Knowing how much sleep your child needs is essential to his/her well-being and success at school. Trying to function well in a sleep-deprived stupor is impossible.

I feel strongly that a huge role of mine as a mom and foster mom is to create an atmosphere where my child can succeed. In order to insure that my children get enough sleep, I work backwards:

- I figure out when my child needs to be in bed with the lights out in order to get the sleep she requires. Even though most of our foster daughters are in high school, they must be in their rooms by 9 pm, as they have to get up around 5 am to get ready. That's still only 8 hours of sleep if they fell asleep instantly, and teenagers need at least that much sleep.

- We determine how much time is needed for nightly routines – shower/bath, brushing teeth, room decluttering, prayers, reading, etc. – and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime. We have four girls who share two bathrooms, so they must coordinate bathroom time.

- Next, we figure out how much time is needed for morning routines - shower/bath, brushing teeth, breakfast, etc. Each child sets the alarm to allow enough time for her morning routine to be accomplished without rush. We have one child who is younger than the rest, and has trouble judging time. When she first came, we wrote out a timed schedule of what she needs to do in the morning and how much time it should take.

- We encourage each child to choose her clothes for tomorrow and lay them out.

- Before choosing her clothes, she should have packed her backpack – homework assignments, permission slips, gym clothes, etc., checking her backpack checklist.

- If your child packs a lunch, she can pack it and put it in the fridge. If she doesn't want to make a sandwich the night before because it will get soggy, at least she can pack everything else and know which kind of sandwich she will make in the morning. (I must confess, I made my girls’ lunches throughout high school. For some reason it stressed them out, and I didn't mind doing it.)

Getting Yourself Organized

If I am running behind in the morning, it makes life stressful for everyone! So I try to create the same type of routine for myself. If I am sleep deprived, I get crabby and little things that shouldn't bother me trigger inappropriate responses.

- I need to know how much sleep I need and determine when I need to be in bed with the lights out in order to get it.

- Working backwards again, I calculate how much time I need for my nightly routine and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime.

- During my routine, I think through what my morning routine will be and how much time it will take, including fixing breakfast and making sure everyone else gets out the door on time. I set my alarm to allow for that to happen without panic. Ten minutes can change panic to calm, so I try not to cut my morning routine too short.

- Before I start my evening routine or during my routine, I think through what I'm going to wear tomorrow and make sure it's clean, ironed, etc.

- Before that, I think through my schedule for tomorrow and pack my briefcase and/or purse and/or gym bag (backpack or diaper bag for some of you) with what I need for the day tomorrow. I'm much less likely to forget something if I can think it through calmly.

- If I'm going to need a lunch, I'll prepare it before I pack my bag and stick it in the fridge. If I take leftovers from dinner, I try to package them while putting the food away after dinner.

- While I'm packing my lunch or while preparing dinner, I look to see what I have planned for breakfast. When I plan my meals for the week, I also plan breakfasts so I can get what I need when I do my weekly grocery shopping.

- After dinner is a good time to set the table for breakfast. If you have two tables - one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, you can set both whenever you empty the dishwasher - one for breakfast and one for dinner.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why time slips away without even realizing it. But by being intentional about your evening schedule, you’re creating an atmosphere of success for both your child and yourself which will hopefully result in a peaceful and productive day tomorrow!

More on Organizing for School:
Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar
Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep
Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub
Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom