The art of time management and organization is not bestowed on all of us, but that does not mean we cannot benefit from their power right here at home. A professional organizer can help you set home organization goals you never imagined you could achieve.
The first weeks of back to school can be a hectic time, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. You can simplify the entire situation by setting up a command center in your home.
Most families will make their command center in the kitchen, the heart of their home. Of course, every family’s will be different, based on the space you have. A command center can be located on a closet door or even in a small closet, a small alcove, the mud room…even a corner can be sufficient.
Regardless of location, says Jennifer Finavi of Long Island–based Finavi Professional Organizing, the command center should have a dry erase calendar and color-coordinated folders that are labeled to hold paperwork and homework. This is going to become a place where day-to-day life gets organized, as well as a source of life-skill learning.
“Even if a child can’t read yet or understand what a command center is, we are building habits for really young children, and they are giving their school items respect,” says Finavi. “They are learning to put their things away and eventually they will start looking at the calendar.”
The command center should also be a place that can be used year-round—and grown-ups may not even have to stay on top of things. “Kids are actually better at organizing and holding onto these habits because they like structure and routine,” Finavi says.
“In the summer, many people use a basket in the command center for sunscreen, sunglasses or anything pertaining to beaches,” Finavi says. “In the winter you can put gloves, hats and scarves in the basket for the kids to grab.”
When it’s time to do homework, Finavi recommends setting boundaries in the command-center room.
“You can’t put a wall up, so I use rugs to designate a space. That’s the most effective and obvious and [a rug] says, ‘This is your space here, and this is my space over here.’ It’s effective with kids, and they understand their own space.” You can also use an open bookcase to create two spaces, or a sheer curtain works well, too.
For children under the age of 10, Finavi recommends that you put their name on their desk in some way to give them ownership of their space, along with their own supplies and a comfortable chair.
Some kids have to see all of their items in order to use them. Other kids get distracted easily so they might need to keep items in a drawer, so they can see their things and know where they are when they open it. “A chest or a trunk are pretty much a black hole for organization,” Finavi says. Acrylic cubes, a two-sided bookshelf and fabric bins work a lot better.
Kids tend to like color, and it should be incorporated in the command center using colorful folders, colored pencils, markers and crayons, all stored in acrylic holders.
For electronics like iPads, Finavi recommends moving them somewhere else. “If they really want it, I’ll set up a space for it. You aren’t locked to your desk, but a screen is not the only option. For example, if the child likes music, I’ll try using a keyboard in the space.”
Finavi also encourages her clients to create a memory box. “Break it down by month or child, and drop their crafts or routine paperwork in the box that you don’t have time to look at. Keep just the important things in the command center.”