I’m always excited for the first day of school! No really, I am but not because I’m doing the happy dance to send my kids off and reclaim my workdays. I’m happy for the fresh start that the first day of school always offers. New friends, new teachers, new opportunities to explore, create, and discover your dreams. And of course new color coded school supplies and all kinds of Sharpies! While reclaiming my focus as a work at home Mom is productive and empowering for me, I actually miss my kids dearly in those first few weeks because I’m an old fashioned Mom. I believe in summer days that last all day at the pool or hanging out with friends, unplugged more than not, exploring, creating, and having all kinds of kid driven do whatever you want fun. So when it’s time to switch gears, I have to work really hard to lead by example because I resent having a schedule, tire easily of spending more time in my car than out, fret over the inevitable homework tears and if they mean there is something more challenging underway. And don’t even get me started about having to have a lock tight meal plan ~ just don’t ~ especially if I’m hungry. So clearly getting our kids back to school is only half the battle because Moms just like me and you have to adjust to this incredibly busy season too.
Back to school means back to more commitments than we might feel like we can handle, more Mom guilt than we need to carry on our shoulders, and more hours of the day when our never ending to-do lists seem to creep into our thoughts. At some point along the back to school journey, I found myself noticing a certain personality type every year that would get me going, feeling inadequate, jealous, annoyed, and not so nice. Even as organized as I am, I couldn’t help but feel twitchy when I would come across a back to school volunteer Queen Bee. You know her too ~ that compulsive volunteer who looks fabulous even in yoga pants (but of course she’s always better dressed than that), always putting cute notes in her son’s eco-friendly lunch box full of healthy choices with no high fructose corn syrup, always remembering to celebrate anything special (yet seemingly random to the rest of us) at school, and always making Pinterest seem like preschool arts and crafts, not knowing the meaning of the words Pinterest fail. Yeah her ~ she makes me crazy too!
But she’s not why you need to be organized. You need to be ready for back to school so you can help your people navigate it well and a new year can be off and running in all the right directions for success. And once you find yourself organized, you’ll be much better able to manage that volunteer Queen Bee with more grace than grimace. No really, you will. Check it out!
Write on the Wall
I don’t care how digital your world is, a large wall calendar is the single most valuable tool you can have to help both you and your family know where everyone needs to go. Why? Because it’s an in your face visual reminder for family members of all ages. No logging in, no enlarging the screen to see tiny print or inability to see the entire month all at once. Its huge, its color coded, and its your family’s common reference point to tell them when and where to go. And to keep it even more basic and easy to manage, I use a huge desk pad and we hang it on our bulletin board ~ perfect size for everyone and able to handle any color coding system I through at it, markers and all!
Be Back to School Organized
You can choose digital or paper it matters not, but the key is to have your planner on hand at all times so that before you commit to anything, you can check your planner to see if there is time to give away. That way when you have to tell Queen Bee no you can do so with an educated answer and therefore all Mom guilt is completely absolved ~ I promise. Remember your family is why you are there in the first place so you are only as busy outside of them as you agree to be ~ I’m serious. So choose wisely when you say yes because it means having to say no to something else.
Eat on a Schedule
Include breakfast and lunch, then bring you’re A-game for dinner by using a service such as eMealz that provides menus and shopping lists leaving you to worry about – well – basically nothing. Our Back to School Bundle has an Organized Pantry Worksheet to get you jumpstarted on what you have in good supply along with brand new Organized Meal Plan and Groceries worksheets to help you map it all out. When I am at my busiest, I think I appreciate that dinner is covered more than any other family member because it means I’ve made my own job easier while meeting the needs of my family all in one. There has to be some kind of badge for that.
A DIY school planner is the best school paperwork de-cluttering tool I know. Designed to help you make sense of all those papers in the backpack while keeping important information specific to each child handy, its the ultimate shared organization tool for both you and your children to use. It is easily created with forms from both our brand new Back to School Bundle and forms currently found in our FREE Printables offerings for email subscribers. Once you create one, you’ll never look back thanks to the organized checkpoint it provides you both.
Get Back to School Social
Bookmark the school and teacher’s websites, like the school PTA Facebook page, get on the principal’s email and call update list, and yes, you can even follow many secondary schools and school districts on Twitter now. The point is to stay connected wherever you have the opportunity to interact. You’ll be in the know real time and that’s always a good thing when it comes to your kids.
Having a calling card is about the smartest way I know to make it easy for people to know how to reach you. Include all the info you’d want someone to plug into their phone contacts and BAM! you are reachable in only the way you want to be. In pre-school you can use them for play dates. For big kid school, they’re the perfect way to stay in touch with friends, volunteer leaders (yes even Queen Bee) and teachers too.
Be Back to School Well
Every year I have to remind myself that the weeks both leading up to and getting settled into the new school year always feel a bit upside down. Be easy on yourself as you adjust to the new routine too but work hard to protect time for your workouts and down time so you can continue to absorb all the new information coming at you as you put new routines into place for the entire family. If I’ve learned anything at all its that keeping my workouts consistent makes me a better Mom by helping release my stress, clear my mind, and keep my body strong and my stamina steady.
So remember that volunteer Queen Bee? I’ve rarely met one that when given a chance, doesn’t end up being a pretty great gal with just a bit (or a ton) more OCD than the rest of us. That willingness to help all the time and everywhere is more often her first instinct to jump in where she sees a need thanks to a servant mindset. She just usually doesn’t realize that she doesn’t have to be in charge of it all. While she might not be the best at letting go, you can definitely be the best at NOT taking it personally or getting your shorts in a knot when really, who cares? As long as things get done the way they are needed and on time, that’s all that the school community really needs. Tell me…
How do you get organized for back to school when it comes to YOU?
Make sure to check out our Back to School Pinterest Board for all kinds ideas to help you every step of the way, not only from GO MOM!® but from around the web too. And don’t forget to check out our brand new Back to School Printable Bundle. I can’t tell you how helpful these checklists and forms have been for me over the years ~ I’m so hopeful you’ll find them to be helpful too! And as I am sure you might expect, it is the perfect compliment to our 2014-2015 GO MOM! DIY Planner , newly redesigned to focus entirely on your time and give you the best Organized Week worksheet around.
As always, thanks so much for stopping by ~ we’ll see you next time!