In this week’s challenge we’re preparing for morning and school day success by creating a homework area as well as a home launching pad for each family member. With school now in full swing for many families (or starting next week if you’re like my family), you may have noticed your mornings are a bit crazy, trying to get everyone up and out the door in time for school.
Heck, even without kids mornings can be crazy trying to get everything done to get out the door for work or other activities. That’s why this week’s challenge isn’t just for families with kids in school, but for everyone, to help put organizational systems in place to make mornings go smoother and your day thereby start out with less stress and chaos. Plus, for those families who do have school age kids, we’ll also deal with after school homework, to get that activity organized and under control too.
Are you new here? The Homework Area & Home Launching Pad Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).
Step 1: Create A Homework Area and Launching Pad For Each Family Member
One of the most challenging parts of getting out the door on time each morning is gathering up all the materials you need to actually head out the door.
For some reason many of us (including myself) underestimate how long this task can take, or forget that something we’ve got to take with us isn’t actually ready until we’re about to leave the house.
Then, we run around like crazy people trying to get it all done with too little time to actually get it accomplished, at least well and in a stress free manner.
One way to help with this problem is to create a launching pad for each family member, which is a fancy way of saying that each person needs a designated space close to the door where they can keep stuff that they’ll take with them, when they leave the house.
I’ve touched on this idea a couple times on the site in other articles, because I’ve found this to be such a simple but effective method for making my own mornings less stressful.
This week, as part of the Homework Area & Home Launching Pad Challenge we’ll actually create this area in our homes.
Examples of common items that you might want to include in a school kids’ launching pad include:
- Backpacks (it is nice, if possible to get these off the floor where you’re prone to tripping over them, such as by having them hang on hooks or from a rack, as shown on the right)
- Lunch box and/or snacks, drinks
- Permission slips and other papers to return to school
- Books, including library books
- Sports equipment, or other hobby equipment needed for school or after school activities
- Coats and other winter or weather gear
- Mobile or smart phone (make sure it is charged by keeping a charging station nearby, such as the one shown on the right)
- Mail (such as in your home mail organizer)
- Purses and briefcases, and/or diaper bag
- Coat and other weather gear (gloves, hat, umbrella, etc.)
- Packed lunch for work
- Items to return, or for errands
- Dry cleaning
Launch Pad Storage Solutions Ideas
You’ll need to create a space for all these items around the exit to your home. Ideas for storage solutions include cubbies, hooks and pegs, baskets, or whatever else you can think of that can containerize each launch pad. Check out the Mudroom & Entryway Organization Challenge for more ideas.
Create Habits To Effectively Use Your Homework Area and Launching Pad
Finally, as with most organizational systems, your launching pad won’t actually help you in the mornings if you don’t use it.
You need to get yourself and your family members into the habit of actually placing their stuff in this space as they come in the door, and taking it with them when they leave the house.
Further, some of the items you’ve got to leave with take some preparation to get ready. I suggest a part of your nightly routine is to get as much stuff ready, and in your launching pad as possible, the night before.
For example, plug in your phone to charge during the night in your charging station, sign all homework and permission slips, and place your shopping list in your purse by the door.
The trickiest items to remember are those which can’t be left there and ready the night before, such as lunches that need to be refrigerated.
My personal solution for this is to place a note (my favorite are post its) on top of my other stuff in my launching pad area reminding me to grab these things in the morning before I head out the door.
Another similar possibility would be to place a bulletin board or dry erase board by the door that can similarly help remind you.
Step 2: Create A Homework Area And Launching Pad For Your Kids
The second step of this week’s challenge is to create some peace and calm in the afternoons, just like we’re trying to do in the morning with the launching pad.
The reason for this is that as soon as the kids come home from school, things can get crazy. It’s often called the “witching hour” because you’re trying to find out about the kids’ day, supervise homework, get dinner cooking, and get ready for sports practice or other after school or evening activities, and it can get overwhelming trying to do it all at once.
Whether you’re home when your kids get home from school or not, it is important to show your kids homework is important by having a designated area for them to do their homework in.
This area doesn’t have to be fancy, and you don’t have to have it dedicated full time to homework use. For example, we just make sure to clear off the kitchen table around the time the kids come home from school, so they can do their homework on it while we help them, as needed.
If you don’t have such an area, consider getting your child a lap desk to create such a flat surface for them, such as the one shown on the left. Many such desks now also double as a comfortable way to hold a laptop in your lap without it overheating your legs.
Make sure that close to the homework area and launching pad you’ve stocked any needed school supplies, such as pens, paper, scissors, glue, markers, a pencil sharpener and extra erasers.
Further, older kids may also need to use a computer as part of their school work, so have one available in a space where you can provide supervision, if needed.
The key to any good homework area and launching pad is to make it a consistent place where your kids can know when they sit down there, it’s time to get in the mindset to get their homework done.
This can make your afternoon or evening less stressful, and also get homework out of the way so you can get on with other evening family activities.