Is your family under a microscope?

Paramecium - Organizing

Science was not my strong subject in high school. It probably didn't help that the new football coach got stuck teaching my biology class. It apparently wasn't his subject either! 

The one thing I remember is watching paramecia under a microscope. My friend and I would use the term, paramecium, when in tight places where we were bumping into people. Basically all paramecia do is swim around bumping into things, obviously not the most intelligent of life forms. But, according to a 2006 study, even paramecia are capable of being trained-- albeit through an electrical current. 

I'm certainly not advocating training families by that method, but I'm thinking that the idea of "trained paramecia" makes maintaining some organizational systems for back to school a viable reality!

If getting your family out the door for school resembles a petrie dish of jumbled cells, try some of these Timely Tips for back to school organizing.

TIMELY TIPS - School days the organized way! 

1. Get enough sleep. The more I read about productivity, the more I hear about how essential sleep is. Establish a reasonable bedtime for everyone-- including yourself!

2. Night before prep. The night before, have everyone pack whatever needs to go out the door in the morning. Even lunches can be assembled and refrigerated for the next day. 

3. Establish a morning routine. Create a list of everything that needs to be done on school-day mornings. Calculate how much time each action takes. Add that up and then add at least 15 minutes. Back that up from the time you need to leave the house to determine an appropriate wake-up time. Now put the action list with a time schedule in order (6:30 am - wake up, 6:35 - shower, 6:45 - get dressed, 7:00 - eat breakfast, etc.) Create a chart for each family member (use pictures for young ones). has a Morning Routine Checklist to help get you started.

4. Designate In 'n Out spots. Place a book shelf near the door with labeled or colored containers (dishpans work), for each person in the family to use for incoming and outgoing items (library books, sports uniforms, etc). Cube storage, or units like this one from Bed Bath & Beyond also work.  

5. System for paperwork. Label a "Parent" folder for each of your kids' backpacks. Whenever they receive a permission slip, newsletter, etc. they place it in the Parent folder and then into a designated "In" tray at home. From there, it's your job to make sure things are signed and placed in the "Out" tray for your child to put back when packing the backpack for the next day. 

6. Use a Family Calendar. If you prefer using a calendar on your phone, use Google Calendar or something like that each family member can sync to. Or, have a family calendar posted on the wall where everyone can see what's going on and add to it. This helps eliminate double-booking.

7. Establish Family Meetings. Start the week with some designated time together. Talk about the upcoming schedule, discuss new things you want to establish (like the morning routine), encourage one another, and give opportunity for working out problems. For more ideas see Family Meetings by Dr. Jane Nelsen.

8. Balance after-school activity. If sports, music, dance, gymnastics is keeping your family running everyday till dinner-time and beyond, consider allowing everyone a limited number of activities, so that you can balance it with some down-time at home as well. 

9. Monitor TV/Game time. Establish ground rules for when and how much time kids can spend on TV or computer games. offers agreat Limiting TV time with Tokens system. 

10. Determine to listen. Decide ahead of time to spend the first after-school moments listening to your kids. Whether it's turning off the radio or phone in the car, or sitting down at the kitchen table together with a snack when they walk in the door, be in the moment with them. You won't regret it!

Wise Words

"Parenting is not about being popular and giving in to every child's whim and desire. It's about making decisions that are truly win-win-- however they may appear to the child at the time."

-Stephen R. Covey