My friends, how are you feeling? Any adjustment can be difficult to manage, but I bet this one feels like it’s taking the cake. It means being at home with all of our family members, all of the time. It means processing new information every day. It means explaining the situation to our kids and making them feel safe, even if we’re panicking inside. It could mean homeschooling. In other words, it’s a lot and I’m feeling it, too!
Which is why I want to say, from one human to another in these unprecedented times, you are doing a great job. You’re doing your best in a situation largely out of your control, and that’s all you or anyone else can ask of you.
So, to help support you during this time, let’s talk about what we CAN control these days.
We can control our spaces. We can (mostly) control the structure of our and our kids’ days. We can control where we place our focus: on the good things, on progress, and on preparing for the blissful normalcy that I know awaits us.
Here are a few of my best tips to help you…
1. Plan Ahead with Expert Calendaring
Consider a written calendar in the kitchen or a shared Google calendar (if you have older kids) so that all family members can feel the security of a sense of routine. Right now, this could include daily schedules to keep the kids on track with their schoolwork, to get exercise and play time in, or to help with baking or preparing meals.
If you’re planning ahead for the summer, you might already be thinking about summer camps (to get those kids out of the house!), weekly activities, or special events. Most summers come with a lot to keep track of. Take it one step at a time, and make sure everything that you commit to is written down on a paper or an electronic family calendar to ensure that scheduled activities don’t accidentally overlap.
To keep your tasks manageable, I also suggest creating additional calendar events for each one, with deadlines and reminders. For example, you could block off 30 minutes to check on your children’s schoolwork, or create an event reminder to pay the summer camp tuition fee.
Then, in each calendar event, include ALL the info you will need in that future moment. For checking on schoolwork, add in any web links to online programs they might be using. For paying the camp tuition fee, include the link where you’ll need to go make the online payment.
This extra minute of preparatory effort will make the task a breeze when the time comes. You’ll feel on top of things and accomplished as things get checked off!
2. Recycle, Scan, & Store School Papers
With school paused, you probably haven’t gotten all the school papers teachers will send home with them at the end of the year — but I’m willing to bet you have plenty already and that it’s only accumulating as the days go by!
Instead of letting it all pile up, go through school work (and art projects), and ask your child to help you. Save the highlights from the year, scan anything that your child doesn’t want now (but you think might be helpful or cherished later on), and purge the rest. This will help reduce the volume of paperwork to be saved and stored.
As you go through everything, you can also create a physical folder for each child and write the school year or grade on that folder. Store these folders in a designated portfolio or file box. Down the road, they will have a fun keepsake box of memories and accomplishments to look through.
When the end of the school year comes and more comes in, you’ll be happy that you have a smaller volume to tackle and a system in place!
3. Purge Old School Supplies & Clothing
As you are going through all of your child’s work together, it is a great time to also go through their school supplies. This is another task that is worth completing both now and at the end of the school year when the majority of their supplies come home.
Sort through all of the school supplies from the current year, as well as the existing supplies that you have stashed at home, and…
- Organize the ones that you feel will be helpful to have now and over the summer
- Store the ones that are in good enough condition to use next school year
- Purge or donate any duplicates or supplies that simply aren’t needed any longer
This is also the perfect time to have your child try on all of his or her summer clothes, shoes, swimwear, etc. from last year. (You could even turn it into a dress party!) Donate what doesn’t fit. Organize closets and dressers with the clothes you’ll be keeping for this summer. And make a list of what needs to be purchased to outfit your child as the weather gets warmer.
4. Create Fun Systems & Contracts
This is a great time to set rules and goals with your family, for now and for the summer. Develop a system to track reading lists, assignments, and projects. If your child struggles with motivation when it comes to academics, create a chart with incentives for reaching certain milestones. This will make it fun for them and much less stressful for you.
This is also a great time to make sure your kids have library cards (for summer) and/or access to electronic systems for books (like a Kindle). Giving them access to books they enjoy will help make those reading goals much more attainable. You could also consider creating a contract with each child that details how much screen time they are allowed per day and how this will be tracked. Setting expectations now will prevent tantrums and disappointment later — and not just the kids’!
5. Get Organized at Home
In a recent blog post, I talked about how to make spring decluttering simple. If you haven’t checked that one out, it has lots of great tips and tricks for organizing your space and developing a system to maintain a clean, clutter-free home.
In addition to the tips I shared in that post, consider organizing your garage this spring as well. Purchase new shelving or bins to sort and store all of your kids’ sporting equipment. You can separate out all of your beach/pool items so they are easy to grab when your family is on-the-go.
Notice if your bikes need to be fixed up and create a calendar event for future repair appointments. Make sure helmets still fit and that all of the bike locks are in working order.
By getting the summer gear ready now, your kids won’t have to bother you with last minute questions (like how to fill their bike tires with air when they are already running late for their first day of summer camp).
Bonus points for stocking the freezer in the garage with popsicles for those hot summer days!
It is never too early to start organizing and feeling in control of your time and space. It decreases stress, reduces anxiety, and allows you to be present and actually enjoy all that time at home with your family. If you have questions about any of these tips, or there is something I haven’t covered here that you could use some guidance on, please reach out! Organizing is my passion and I’m happy to offer advice by video consultation.
I want to help you prepare for your most fun-filled, stress-free, family-focused months ahead. And who knows? You could remember these times for years to come as some of your most special family moments.