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A little family organization saves a lot of stress

A little family organization saves a lot of stress

By Carol Boughner

It's a new school year--the perfect time to get the family organized! While you're kids are settling into their new class routines, take some time to get everyone used to some new steps you all can take to cut down on household chaos, and reduce everyone's stress levels.

Here are some tips to organize your family's life:

Set up hooks for coats and backpacks near the door where the family comes and goes frequently for each person. Also, a second hook or tote underneath the hook for hats, mittens, sneakers, lunchbox etc. Put up hooks for key rings too so you aren't frantically looking for yours in the morning.

Plan meals for every night of the week. Post the meal schedule on the refrigerator so whoever gets home first can start the preparation. If you can, make a few meals ahead on the weekend and freeze for the busy upcoming week. Use the crockpot so that dinner is ready when you get home. Home-cooked meals are cheaper and more nutritious than take-out. Have kids set the table or help clean up so that mealtime doesn't take all evening.

Save one art project and toss the rest. Children bring a lot of paperwork home from school and it's impractical to save and store it all. Pick a few special items and toss the rest. Keep a bin labeled with each child's name for their work or scan the pages into the computer and keep a digital file of your child's school year.
Before bedtime walk through the house with your child and pick up everything left out. Make sure everything has its own place. Lay out clothes for the next day and make sure all dirty clothes are put in the hamper.

Do one load of laundry per day. Wash, dry, fold, and put away one load of laundry a day. You know when you miss a day; the laundry starts to pile up and seems overwhelming. Have a laundry basket designated for each family member. Teach children how to sort their own laundry and put into appropriate loads. Get children into the habit early of picking up their clothes. Teach the children how to put away their own clothes in the appropriate place.

Sort the mail every day and immediately recycle all junk mail. Open the bills, remove the actual bill and return envelope, and throw away everything unnecessary in the envelope. Place all bills in "Bill Folder". Pay the bills on the same day every month.

Dispose of broken, empty and out of date items. Out of order telephones, obsolete computers and electronics, toys with missing pieces, unused or out-of-date cosmetics, broken appliances etc. all need to be thrown away. Sometimes these items are stored in the hope of finding, fixing, mending, combining or selling but they just end up gathering dust and taking up precious space. Throw away the unsalvageable and donate the salvageable. Take one Saturday every two or three months and go through the closets, drawers, attic, basement and garage and collect unused items and get rid of them.

Posting a large calendar in a central location allows parents and children to know what is coming up that day, week and month. The calendar should have everything posted so there are no surprises. Set a good example and be on time to appointments, school, sports, events, etc. Teach children that being even five minutes late is disrespectful to those who are waiting.

None of the above habits are too difficult to implement. Start small. Kids of all ages love to help out. Consider making one change every week. That way, when summer is over and the kids go back to school, you will feel more organized.

Maybe you will discover more time for family activities that you all enjoy. What may seem like a chore to you may be a fun activity for your child, especially since you are doing it together.