By Paula Sirois
A new school year always seems to stir up resolutions and promises of lifestyle changes.
If you’re wondering how to really stick to your guns this year, here are some tips:
— IT’S OK TO BE STRICT: Set up a school zone in your house. This area should be a desk or table large enough to accommodate your kids, book bags, a computer and all the necessary tools of the (school) trade. This will be school central, and everything that goes here, stays here. No school-related item is to be found in bedrooms, under TVs, near the dog’s food or shoved in pockets. Set a firm three-strikes rule, and after three missteps, take away a privilege, such as a week of TV or sleepovers at the best friend’s.
— USE A CLIPBOARD: I use three clipboards in my house that are obnoxiously labeled “boy,” “girl” and “mom.” Everything school-oriented that is mine gets clipped to it the second it enters the house, and the same goes for the kiddos. “Oh where, oh where did that spelling list from last week go? The clipboard, that’s where!”
— SOUND THE ALARM: My phone has a zillion alarms on it with different sounds to let everyone know what’s what. One alarm beeps to let us all know that we must wake up. Another reminds us that we have 15 minutes to get in the car. When the duck quacks, you’ll hear my daughter scream out, “Hurry up, everyone — 15 minutes!” I have alarms to remind me to start cooking dinner or else it will be too late to have anything prepared by a reasonable time. Another alarm reminds the kids that lie-around-and-do-nothing time is over, and homework time has officially begun. Yet another alerts them that it’s getting dangerously close to their favorite TV show time, and they best hurry up. And finally, there’s an alarm signaling bedtime — which really means shower-book-bed time, but I thought if I programmed one more alarm, my phone would surely die.
— ORGANIZE THE CLOSET: I cleaned out a hall closet and now use it to store all school clothes, including socks, underwear, shoes, hats and lunch boxes. Everything the kids could wear for school goes here. Therefore, everything is easy to find and easy to put back. The kids’ class schedule is taped to the inside door, and every Sunday we all stand there, figure out the week and then hang up the clothes they wish to wear in some sort of order starting to the left. So Monday’s clothes are followed by Tuesday’s and so forth. I use bins for socks (all white, thank you) and undies (easy to tell whose is whose because there is just one girl and one boy). My kids have their own laundry hampers in their rooms, and if I catch clothes on the floor, I pretend I am temporarily blind and ignore them. This means they don’t get picked up, washed, put back or, dare I say it, worn again. Yes, one time one kid was forced to go to school in clothes they detested because nothing was clean for them. Guess what? It never happened again.