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Back to School

Get Planning for Back To School and the New School Year Now!

By Jodie Lynn

Back to School and Family Organization -- Get your family organized today to ensure the best school year yet!

Many moms want to be better organized but lack the tools or motivation to do so. For many families, back to school and the beginning of a new year, makes many families feel overwhelmed with the impending schedule. A new school year will boggle your mind with all of the upcoming activities and organizations wanting your John Henry on the dotted line for fall activities and organizations to sign up for.

Try to reevaluate your new commitments, family plans and exactly what the kids need to participate in and what your family could live without. Set systems into place that streamline days into making better use of time and still allow for family activities. Begin by making this school year a more positive one by squashing the over scheduling dilemma today. Here are a few "good to go" tips to get you started.

1. Review individual needs:

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Even now - fall and winter camps, various sport activities, boy and girl organizations and even activities within the schools, like school teams, music and art, are sending out information. In fact, some are offering a discount for signing up early. Sit down with individual children and look over their activity schedules for the fall. Take a blank piece of paper and/or marker board and write down the activities that they would like to do. Tell them you are making a calendar for the next two seasons. Let them know that getting organized will help everyone in the family with time management.

2. Write it down for visual aid and better motivation:

Although there are plenty of tools and aids on the market today to help busy moms, they are no good unless they are economical and easy to use. Grab a calendar or some type of computer planner and plan your month day by day. For example, many of today's computers come with a daily planner/calendar that can be filled in and printed out for a handy visual aid. If you need more space, the squares of each day can be adjusted to print out a little bigger. Alternatively, if you are using a regular wall calendar, look for one that has large squares. Make a copy of each month and keep it with you. Give a copy to your spouse and anyone else who may need it and hang one in an area for other family members to see as well. To utilize a better charting system, use the first initials of each family member's name and color code it. For example, mom is orange, dad is green, son is blue, etc. If they want to check the family calendar for their daily schedule, they can easily find it by the specific color code. This makes it handy for nonreaders and even for those of us who can as the color stands out over writing. Paste a small picture of the activity to further assistant nonreaders.

3. Have it all at a glance:

Include columns in your plan for special help and success. Make a list of names, times, activities, locations and who can help with the family system and organization for better help and success. Do not forget to keep a column open to write down meals and items needed for a specific meal, doctor appointments and etc. Keep a space on the calendar handy for preprinted numbers of neighbors, childcare professionals, vets and/or relatives for emergencies. For example, on Monday if you can visually see that it takes 20 minutes to get to your son after school or a soccer practice and another 20 minutes to get him to golf lessons (and you know that you can't make it because you have to stop at the store) call someone from your emergency help list. Have them pick up your son or go to the store and pick up certain ingredients for dinner. Two organizers that work well for this is Go Mom Planner, by Molly Gold and Family Organizer, by Amy Knapp. I have used both. The other thing that helps immensely is to get out last year's calendar. This is the perfect planning reference for school events as well as outside activities. Always keep the previous year's calendar and sign up sheets from various activities. They can be a lifesaver for advance planning for the following school year.

4. Chart family time with rescheduling:

Schedule family time into each month. Be upfront with family members and let them know an activity may have to be changed or switched if it's not working for the family as a whole. Make family time an important time and treat it as a priority. If you see after a while that certain activities conflict with certain days, reschedule them. For example, if your daughter's dance class on Tuesdays creates a large overlap with a planned family activity and gets everyone in a bad mood every week, change it. It's not worth the hassle if everyone gets in a bad mood because of one day each week. Remember that one day a week adds up to several weeks a year and resentment and blame will soon follow.

5. Make time for yourself:

Don't think for one-minute moms don't need time for themselves. At least three times a week, or at least three hours, go do something for you. Take a walk; go for a run; attend an exercise class. Maybe consider joining a book club or visiting a nursing home. Do something - anything - away from kids. Don't feel guilty about it -- just do it.

Getting organized now for back to school, the new school year and even for the pre-holiday season is a must. Think about it, the holidays are right around the corner. Take a deep breath and say: "One day at a time..." - but push a balanced plan a little quicker and you just might have time to catch your breath and enjoy family life a little better by implementing doable plans now.

If you "FLS" (feel like screaming) -- you will! It's like the old saying goes -- "If mama ain't happy -- nobody is."

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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