Get Organized: Kids

Back-to-School Organization

Organization is key for avoiding stressful school mornings. We've asked real moms and professional organizers to share their advice for making hectic mornings as stress-free as possible.

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It's a fall tradition: School supplies line the aisles of retailers, attracting parents and children who will meticulously pack every glue stick and pencil into a well-organized back-to-school bag.

But while sending those packs of loose-leaf paper and boxes of tissues to school that first day may temporarily clear your home of clutter, for most families the back-to-school season also means a return to hectic mornings of searching for an errant permission slip or living with loads of lunchbox drama.

Families can cut the chaos and embark on smooth-sailing mornings, however, by entering back-to-school season with their own school supplies: a kit of organizational ideas for those manic mornings.

A Fan of the Plan

When 7-year-old Abbi Kious heads back to school this fall, her mother, Kimberly, is prepared to get her daughter out the door without a hitch.

"I use a combination of rules, organization and 'gestapo Mom' tactics, really," Kious, of Grants Pass, Ore., says. "Abbi has a checklist she has to complete each morning. If she strays and I catch her sitting and staring into space or something, I say, 'Honey, is that on your checklist?'"

Kimberly's checklist, however, isn't exactly back-to-school boot camp material. It's a visual reminder of harmonious habits she wants Abbi to cultivate to ease the morning malaise that can distract even the most motivated scholar.

To create your own checklist, look at your regular morning tasks, says Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart, a professional organizer who specializes in helping mothers streamline their overscheduled lives. Stewart says asking yourself questions about your routine can be a good way to figure out what you need to put on the list. "What does your morning routine look like? How could you make it faster, more efficient?" she asks, adding that once you identify the answers, you can begin to identify your most time-consuming activities and schedule accordingly.

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