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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Get Your Family Organized for Back to School

By Sherry Onweller

Getting control over the back-to-school process is essential for keeping everybody’s stress levels low and enjoying the excitement of the new school year. Whether your kids are going into grade school, high school or off to college, planning can typically smooth the transition from summer to fall.

Before the school year begins, sit down as a family and set goals for the school year. Some of the areas to focus on are family social activities, meal planning and meal expectations, grocery shopping and laundry. Try to clearly understand what everyone’s expectations are.

Begin the process with a family brainstorming session, personal calendars in tow. Talk about what family-wide social events and commitments are coming up in the first half of the year and have everyone write in their calendar, or in their phone, what events they are expected to attend.

Next, discuss meals. Decide how many meals per week are going to be spent eating together as a family and discuss meal planning and grocery shopping for a typical week. It is often helpful to have a general theme per night, like “Taco Tuesdays” or “Crockpot Wednesdays,” and always plan for leftovers that can be used for a lunch or a quick meal. Plan out a typical grocery-shopping list for each week that can be prepopulated with the items that are always needed. Post the list in the kitchen, on the back of a cabinet or on a bulletin board, and have each family member add to it throughout the week as needed. Decide on a fixed day of the week for grocery shopping and decide who will do the shopping. Weekend grocery shopping is a great way for older kids who can drive to help with the family workload, even if they have sports going on during the week.

When it comes to laundry, even younger kids can be in charge of their own clothes. Giving each family member a laundry bin and a laundry lesson can ease the burden on everyone, and empowers kids with a new skill. It gets them ready for college, where they will be armed with the knowledge needed to avert future laundry disasters. Additionally, although laundry is a simple task, being in charge of one’s own laundry teaches great life skills. It builds confidence, because it is a task that can easily be completed, yet gives the child a sense of accomplishment. It teaches how to manage lead-time (i.e. don’t wait until the morning that you run out of underwear to do your laundry) and it teaches time management skills.

Taking this little bit of time to brainstorm together as a family builds family relationships, sets everyone’s expectations and will get everyone’s school year off to a calmer start.

If you need help getting yourself or your family focused on life goals, family goals or work goals, Everyday Organizing Solutions by Sherry can help. We provide sympathetic and nonjudgmental organizing, de-cluttering and time management services to residential and business clients. Sherry can help with projects for the home, workplace or for volunteer activities.  Sherry also specializes in helping female adults with ADD get their physical space/time management in order and with helping children and teens to get organized. Newly added services include personal coaching and help with making your work life more efficient and productive.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, email Sherry at [email protected], call 908-619-4561 or visit

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