Command Centre: School Gear | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Command Centre: School Gear

Monday, February 4, 2013

Command Centre: School Gear

Are mornings crazy at your house as everyone is rushing around trying to get everything they need for the day?  You know, things like lunches, homework, signed agendas, and money and permission forms for field trips.

To help make mornings less overwhelming, here are a few tips:

  1. Set up a place where everything is kept together.  
  2. Do as much as you can the night before.  
  3. Put together a routine for each person in the family to follow before and after school so everyone knows what is expected of them.  

Have I always done these things?  Nope!  But before school started last fall I spent some time figuring out what was going to work best in our home and I came up with some ideas that are working really well for us {so far}.

That's where my kitchen command centre came from.  And school stuff is a big part of it!  We keep everything the kids need for school in one spot.

Last week I showed you the first part of my command centre:  the wall files for all our daily paperwork.  Today I will tell you more about the bins we use for keeping the kids' backpacks, lunch bags, and other school-related items together.

You can just see the tops of their backpacks under the folders here.

Here's a closer look at the bins that we keep all the kids' school "stuff" in.

I got these bins at Canadian Tire in the fall and they are the perfect size for a backpack and lunch bag.  They are the same ones I used in our hall closet for shoes, hats, and mitts.

I have them sitting on top of a TV stand that my parents were purging from their house.  It's the perfect size for the command centre and for holding these bins.

Every day when the kids come home, they put their backpacks and lunch bags in their own bin.  Then they unpack everything right away.

They put their agendas on the kitchen table for me to look at and sign, as well as any notices.  Their homework goes on the table too.

They unpack their lunch bags, wipe them out, and then put them back in the bin with their backpacks.

While they are doing that, I'm taking care of signing anything that needs to be signed, reading anything that needs to be read, and returning anything that needs to be returned.  Then I put everything I've just dealt with back into their backpacks.

I do this right away so it's not hanging over me and I don't have to rush around doing any of it in the morning.  Mornings are crazy enough!

When they complete their homework, their books go back in their backpacks.  Right away.  Sense a theme here?  :)  This way there's no panic in the morning trying to find "missing" homework or books.

In the morning, I just need to put their lunches in their bins and they add them to their already packed backpacks.  Nice and easy!  The kids grab them when they're ready to head out the door.

Sometimes we keep other things in the bottom of the bins too.

  • Little bags for their pizza money that they only need on Fridays
  • Parts of a project that is staying home for a few days
  • School library books that have been read but aren't due back yet

If your kids are involved in extra-curricular activities you could also keep any associated equipment or gear in these bins too.  It just makes it easy to find these items when we need it.

Everything related to school has a home in these bins.  And everyone in the family knows it.  So we never rarely {keeping it real!} have to look around for something.  It's simple.  And it works.  I wish I'd thought of it sooner :)

We used to keep backpacks near the front door and lunch bags in the kitchen.  Other school stuff often landed on the kitchen table or on the floor by the front door.  Not a good system.

The entry area is small {no pretty mudroom for us!} so we were frequently tripping over backpacks and it always looked messy.  The kitchen is small and those lunch bags were always in the way on the counter.  We often forgot about things that ended up on that kitchen table pile.  And who knows what stuff we missed because it ended up somewhere else in the house?!

This current system keeps everything contained and it looks neat.  And it makes before and after school easier.  Did I mention that I love it?

For the first few weeks of school I used brown baskets instead of these bins.  They looked nice, but I didn't think they would be durable enough for the daily use and abuse I figured they'd see.  I'm glad I made the switch because there have been spills and leaks and just ongoing dirt inside and now I can easily wipe these out.  Instead, I used those baskets in my linen closet!

So now you've seen another section of my kitchen command centre.  Stay tuned for more on our routines, calendar, monthly goals page, weekly plans, and, my favourite part, our storage for the kids' school work and art work that we keep!

In the meantime, if you're looking for more ideas for a command centre, you can check out the command centres post I wrote as part of the 31 Days of Organizing Tips series or my Entryways, Drop Zones & Command Centres board on Pinterest.

How do you keep your mornings from becoming overwhelming?  Where do you store your kids' school gear?  Please share your ideas in the comments so we all can learn from you!

Happy organizing!

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Here are all the posts in this series: