The summer is slowly coming to an end and the beginning of the
school year for your children is around the corner.
Being organized, prepared and focused, while maintaining the restful peacefulness you hopefully achieved over the summer is the goal. So how do you get into high gear back to school mode without disrupting all that good down-time feeling? Simple you start with the four P’s, Pen, Paper, Plan and Prepare. Along
with the hustle and bustle of getting kids prepared for school you will also be facing a Seasonal transition.
Seasonal changes may affect mind, mood, and motivation (energy). The transition from Summer into Fall mostly affects our mind, and motivation. Unlike other seasonal transitions, stepping from Summer into Fall is filled with so many chores, tasks (energy) and planning/ preparation (mental
gymnastics) that doing it with a plan is important to stay balanced.
Purchase an attractive pad of paper for each child you have. Sit down with your pads and
a pen and start with the oldest child’s pad, and write down the goals you have for that child, for the school year. Write the goals pertaining to their health, behavior and what strengths
you would like them to build. Write down any thoughts or ideas you have for that child.
On the second page write down any concerns you have about that child and anything that bothers you about the child’s behavior and title it Concerns. On the third page write down all the strengths the child has and all the great things about your child and title it Strengths. On the fourth page start writing everything down that you have to do to organize and prepare your child for going back to school. If you want an upgrade in bedroom furniture, clothing, products (bins, storage, bookshelves, file cabinets), or if you want to call about programs, tutoring or counseling, write it all down and title it Get Organized.
If you want to purge kids clothing to make room for new duds, or do a deep cleaning of the closets or get under their bed, discuss this with your kids and make sure they're on board for the task of preparing the room from Summer Solstice Style to Back to School ready. You may want to look for a new hamper, organizational tools (label makers, black permanent markers, filing systems, software programs, schedulers), or change out the linens and bedding. Old toys, books and knick knacks that aren’t being used or loved anymore can be given to charity. Teach your children about giving to charity. Help them part with items that are not age appropriate for them so they don’t start having collecting and hoarding behaviors. Involve your child so they know how to do this for themselves at some point. Children must be prepared for the world when they leave your home, so start preparing them now.
The old saying “Children are to be seen and not heard” was a bad idea. Children must be taught how
to have a voice, especially when they are going back into a school environment with other children and adults (teachers). No surprise that other children and even teachers may be harmful to your children. Please don't get me wrong about this issue, most people are loving and kind, but the news tells us there are people out there who can and will do harm. Sit down with each child and discuss Self-Protection and create a concrete way for your child to assess normal from abnormal behavior towards and from others.
Sit down with each child to discuss Rule, Responsibilities and Consequences and develop a chart on a big white poster board. Depending on the children’s ages the rules, responsibilities and consequences will vary. Each child has a separate chart solely for them. There are two columns for consequences so they can choose the one they want to have. This gives them some power in relation to consequences. This chart lets your child know how the world operates and as we know we have the ability to choose the consequences even when we get in trouble with the law i.e. Pay the fine or Traffic School. The amount of time you will enforce a take away (consequence) depends on the age of the child. 5-9 (1 day) 10-14 (3 days) 15-18 (1 week). Once a consequence is enforced DO NOT reverse it. Reversing a consequence because a child has a temper tantrum and or argues should double the consequence not eliminate it. Eliminating a consequence once it is enforced will actually reinforce the negative behavior. Remember YOU are responsible to organize and prepare your child for the world, not the teachers, coaches, friends, family members or even counselors. It is YOUR JOB as a parent!
If you do not have Rules, Responsibilities and Consequences in your home, your child will believe that is how the world operates and they will be in for a rude awakening once they leave home. Not to mention your lives will be chaotic, confusing and misguided and you will miss apointments, due dates and be dis-organized from the get go. Do not take away extracurricular activities, special occasions (birthdays/dances), field trips, allowance since this will not only impact your child’s natural ability to be socialized but it also affects and punishes the other children that rely on your child’s participation. Use the communication method outlined in this article to go along with the rules and
Also realize, that if you are just employing this new tool for keeping
your child’s life organized, it may be difficult and even painstaking at first,
but then will become easier and easier as everyone gets used to it.
It may seem harsh and you may feel guilty enforcing the consequences
but feel the guilt and do it anyway!
Example of Rules and Responsibility and Consequences Chart
Getting organized can be tedious and overwhelming when you are alone and without support of your partner, family and or roommates, who don't want to be your cohort in the organizing adventure. Organizing a shared space with an unwilling partner can block the road to YOUR ORGANIZED world.
Most commonly I hear that a spouse, partner, family member or roommate wants to get organized but the other half is just fine in their clutter comfort. This tends to be difficult and worrisome for the person who wants freedom and escape from clutter and disorganization.
Why does clutter come between people? Well some people realize that the outer is a reflection of the inner and want to have an organized system to help them stay focused and productive. Other people push clutter in your face and are just plain old “self-centered”, not aware of their surroundings and or other's feelings. The person creating the disorganization and mess cannot see the demise of their counterpart. Or could it be they thrive on clutter and actually feel comforted?
Are people REALLY comfortable with clutter? Not usually, but on some level if a person grew up in a cluttered environment they may not think twice about living the same way as was their home of origin. Other people who tolerate clutter mayhem well, may suffer from mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, ADD and or Obsessive Compulsive challenges. The divide, amongst people who share space, in housekeeping styles, is what a lot of partnerships fight about. Most people who cohabitate or who share space fight about money, housekeeping, moral issues, how to raise children/pets, and sex (if that is in the equation). Housekeeping, let's face it is tedious, but when clutter has run rampant it may become dangerous, harmful to health and downright unbearable for a person who likes order and neatness. One person may feel like they are king, on their "junk" pile, while the other a drowning person.
So what to do when two or more people in a space are at odds with each other? Well what most civilized groups tend to do is compromise. But how do you compromise on clutter and chaos? The same way emotionally intelligent people solve conflict, you discuss it, find out what common ground there is (no pun intended), and you make a plan that suits both of you. The best way to discuss a difficult situation is to use assertive language.
Assertive language style goes like this.
YOU: I feel______________(adjective feeling words) i.e. hurt, overwhelmed, confused, disappointed, let down, unheard, stepped on etc.... when________________(describe situation) i.e. there are piles of stuff in corners, the garage is overtaken by your unfinished projects, when I can't see the countertop, when dishes are left in the sink, when the house if not kept up etc.... and then the finale......_______________________(validation, so they hear the feelings) i.e. and I love you so much, and you are such a great partner, and so creative and so loveable and I appreciate this and that about you, you’re a fun roommate etc....
The reason for the switch from the "I feel" statement and the "situation" statement to the sweet "validation" statement is that ideally the other person will hear your feelings and respond accordingly. There are no guarantees, if you become highly assertive, the other person will respond appropriately. That doesn’t mean that you lower your communication style, becoming aggressive, passive aggressive or passive, it just means you will probably have to learn how to have rules about your world and boundaries to protect it.
When you discuss situations that bring on contention between you and others, in an assertive manner, you will feel more confident and justified in your approach, and also create expectations for an assertive response. When the other person comes back at you with aggression, passive aggressive stances, and or ignores you and you feel defeated keep going with the above assertive language. If the other person continues to use a non-assertive method of communication even though you have shared deep and dark feelings, and have validated them, it is time to realize they do not care about your feelings and or working on a better partnership. Your next step may be to seek counseling, individual and or family, get coaching with an experienced life coach or take a break from the situation through separation until the other person will hear you, and make the necessary changes for the partnership to resume comfortably for both of you.
Remember when you share space….the meaning of share is important!
Marla is known as the Declutter Your Strategy™ expert. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of