It is the end of the first week of school, you have just returned home from picking up your kids, and you take a look around your home.  Your kiddos’ backpacks are tossed on the floor inside your entryway, and a trail of shoes, coats, and debris follows.  On top of that, there is a pile of mail, back-to-school paperwork, lunch boxes, and markers strewn across your kitchen island.   You want to freaking scream!!

Morning Chaos

Getting kids dressed – This will vary depending on the ages of your kiddos.

  • For elementary age, children plan their outfits for the week and contain them in a 6-compartment hanging sweater organizer.  You can do this for your child, or as they get older, let them choose their outfits and help them place them in the organizer for the week.
  • For your middle and high-school-age children, teach them how to wash, dry, fold, and put away their laundry.  Yes, teach them life skills now.  If the outfit they want to wear isn’t clean, it is on them.

Breakfast and school lunch

  • Establish a shelf in your pantry or kitchen drawer for non-perishable breakfast foods such as bread, PB&J, cereal, protein bars, etc.  This zone is best at a height that your children can easily reach.
  • At an early age, teach your child how to make breakfast and put their dirty dishes in the kitchen sink or dishwasher.
  • To keep cereal boxes from being left out on the kitchen counter, replace them with self-serve cereal dispensers.

Getting out the door with everything and on-time

  • Backpacks and everything else your child needs to launch out the door are best kept near the command center in a “launching and landing pad.” Professional organizer lingo a launching and landing pad refers to where you “launch” out of your home into your day and “land” back in when you return.  It’s the transitional space between being outside and inside your home.  This launching and landing pad aims to get you in and out with less stress and where you need to be on time.
  • Set alarms or timers until you have established a routine.  You might need one for waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, grabbing what is needed from the launching and landing pad, and getting out the door.  After a few weeks, your routine should be solidified, and you can reduce the alarms.


Start a routine with your children: when they come home from school, they empty their lunch box and add tomorrow’s non-perishable lunch items from a zone in your pantry.

  • They can also prepare their perishable foods and store them in reusable silicone bags.  Create a shelf or bin in your refrigerator for these bags.  It will be easier for your kids to grab and add to their lunchbox in the morning.
  • As a reward, they can grab their afterschool snack from the same zone or a shelf in your refrigerator.

School Supplies and Homework Station

Carve out a space in your home for your children to do their homework.  This area might be the kitchen island or the dining room table for young kiddos.

For older kids, create a comfortable (but not too comfortable) space in their bedroom where they won’t be distracted by other activities in the home.  Have supplies available, so you don’t need to go to the store when you are tired at the end of the day.  A well-stocked roll-away cart is a solution.  Don’t forget supplies for projects that are assigned requiring specific art materials.  Stock up now and check supplies periodically and restock as needed.

Paperwork and Mail

I see it over and over in clients’ homes–a mountain of papers and mail on their kitchen countertop.  For many reasons; it is BORING, you don’t want to face the task of paying bills, you don’t have a clue what papers are important to keep, there is nowhere to put the papers, and you are afraid you won’t find that piece of paper later if you put it away, and so on.  I know you dread it.

But the more you put it off, the more significant that pile grows and grows.  Consequently, it takes way more time than it would if you spent two minutes with it each day.  Bills go unpaid, and now you have late fees and interest to pay.  You still can’t find that piece of paper that your child needs to take with them to school NOW.

  • You need a system for your paperwork and mail and a place to put it before you act on it and after you act on it.
  • You need a command center!  A command center is a place in your home located in a high-traffic area, such as the kitchen.  The command center is separate from the launching and landing pad but should be in very close proximity.  Read Why Every Family Needs a Command Center for specifics on creating yours.


With these simple systems in place, your back-to-school week and the school year will be calmer than without them!


As schools across the U.S. close their doors to slow the coronavirus outbreak, parents are now, with little warning, scrambling to figure out how to homeschool their children. So, what do you do if you’re a parent now in charge of continuing your child’s education, in many cases while you’re also working from home? Without knowing how long these school closures may last, it can feel hard to prepare or even know where to begin.

Every family will have to find a solution that works best for them, but to help you get started, we sought advice from homeschooling professionals and experts. Here are some of their best tips for transitioning to at-home learning.

Take a deep breath

First things first, stay calm and remember that everyone is in this together – from those in living in Florida to those living in Washington (and everyone in between). So while yes, this is daunting and unfamiliar, it is also temporary, and no one expects you to do it perfectly.

Try this:
Relax and take a deep breath. In these trying times, we’re all anxious, but it’s important to stay calm for our children’s sake. – Hillcrest Academy ​Free School

Use everything as a teachable moment

You can turn just about anything into a learning opportunity. Plus, being at home with your kids gives you the chance to think outside-the-box and find new ways of taking in information.

Try this:
Have your kids help with dinner and teach them math while using recipes such as – the recipe calls for 1/2 cup for 2 servings, what is needed for 6 servings? – Homeschool Central

Have a routine, but be flexible 

One of the great things about homeschooling is the flexibility. Start with a plan, but be open to the twist and turns your day could take and the unique ways in which your own child learns.

Try this:
If possible, follow a similar routine that your family was already on but also try to make it fun. Doing school on the couch or together in the kitchen is a great way to bond as a family. – Confessions of a Homeschooler

Resist the urge to schedule the whole day. Settle into a new norm with more unstructured free time. – The SC Homeschooling Connect

Find consistent 2-4 hour segments to complete the “must-do” subjects like math, language arts, and reading, and then plan the “want to do” stuff for happily investing in the rest of the day. – HSLDA

Education at home is all about freedom: the freedom to learn unhindered; freedom to try anything and everything in comfort and peace. Create a flexible schedule and choose the basics, then let the student’s interests direct the rest of the day—you will not only educate them, but you will also give them a life. – The Old Schoolhouse

If you have multiple children at home, make sure to spend one-on-one time with each child. It also helps cut down on sibling squabbles when each child knows they’ll have time that’s just about them. – Modern Parents Messy Kids


Give your child a say in the learning process

Depending on their age, consider letting your child create their own schedule and structure. It’s ok if you need to step in, but if you give them the option first, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Try this:
Try to focus their studies around topics they are interested in; and be flexible, letting your teen experiment with the environment, time, and type of curriculum, to find out how they work best. – Annie and Everything

Do a unit study

You can cover learning in multiple major subjects by linking them together under one topic that interests your child.

Try this: 
Study the Civil War and incorporate history, science, writing, reading, spelling, memorization, art, music, etc. – Catholic Homeschooling Resources

Or maybe your child is interested in trains. You can find resources online that will provide train-themed math sheets or books related to trains. You can use toys at home to recreate a train station and then talk about all of the inner workings of the station. This type of learning excites them and will keep them engaged and asking questions. – How To Homeschool


Make it fun

Learning doesn’t always have to take the form of worksheets and quizzes. Instead, mix things up! This is the perfect time to find the fun in learning.

Try this:
Whether learning how to cook, how to dissect a worm, or how to write a screenplay, take advantage of fun online courses that fire up your student’s heart and mind. –

Incorporate hands-on activities. Not only do they make learning at home more interesting, kids learn more when they are engaged and motivated. – All About Learning Press

Play word games, act out historical dramas, ‘tour’ online museums, or watch documentaries. These are all enjoyable (as well as educational) ways to pass the time together. – Home School Digest


Get physical and make the most of outdoor space

Your kids would typically have a dedicated recess or outdoor time each school day. So it’s important to continue this at home and incorporate opportunities into the daily schedule for them to move around and stay active.

Try this:
Take the classroom outside. Online recreational activities that take the kids (and the parents) outside the home are great opportunities for learning. Our local park system offers scavenger hunts that can be used in any park or backyard. The Nature Conservancy also has a fun and educational nature scavenger hunt. – Oakland County Moms

Take breaks for movement. Movement breaks (both indoors and outdoors) can support attention, regulation, and focus. – Emerge Pediatric Therapy

Resources to consider

Be sure to reach out to your local school district and determine what homeschooling resources are available to you. Additionally, there are endless free online resources and homeschool curriculums you can take advantage of. Here are a few suggestions for students of all ages and learning styles –

Homeschool Matha comprehensive math resource site for homeschooling parents and teachers that includes free educational resources including math worksheets, lesson plans, online math games lists, ebooks, a curriculum guide, reviews, and more.

EngageNY: rigorous and engaging K-12 curriculum aligned with the Common Core Standards that families can access and use online for free. The math curriculum modules are complete and require no textbook. – Michigan Association for Gifted Children 

Independence Kit: this is a great way to challenge K-8th grade students to do something on their own, which will keep them learning on their own. Parents can use it to make this a time their kids blossom into even more resourceful, resilient young people. – Let Grow


Originally published by Redfin.
Republished with permission from Emily Huddleston

The symptoms of ADHD generally first appear in children aged 3-6 and the average diagnosis occurs about age 7. It is challenging enough to be a child in the confusing world of today, but imagine being a little one who has a raucous party going on inside his or her head most of the time. As a parent or caretaker, you can create an atmosphere of organization for the ADHD child in your care. Even when the orderly surroundings are unwittingly dismantled by that child, organization can be restored until it becomes the norm. It is wise to teach your child about organization and order early on, as it will become a useful coping mechanism for them in adult life. Here are some suggestions to help your youngster experience the calmness of structure in their world.

Set Realistic Goals & Break it Down

Support your child in being successful by setting achievable goals. Then break it down into smaller pieces. Say you want to organize the abundance of books and games in your home. Tackle only the books first and then on another day work on the games.

Make it FUN & Interactive

Nearly any task can be more enjoyable when everyone is involved and it is infused with an element of playful fun.

Avoid Perfectionism

This one is probably sage advice for any parent, but even more so for the parents of children with ADHD. Everyone will experience greater success when the goals are realistic and attainable.

Prepare the Night Before

Whether it is a play date, a school day, or an outing, having everything ready the night before will avoid chaos and craziness the next day.

Reward Success

When your child does well in organizing, even in some small way, re-enforce that desired behavior with a special treat, a hug, and even an enthusiastic “Atta girl” or “Atta boy”.

More Tips for School-age ADHD Kids:

Have Ample School Supplies on Hand

In case your child forgets those much-needed supplies at school or at home when needed at the other location, have extras on hand. Also, it is a good practice to keep duplicate copies of school notices, permission slips, and the like.

Write Down Assignments

Coordinate your efforts with the teachers and make certain all homework assignments are in writing, including the due dates. Keep a copy at home for supportive follow-up.

 Visual Filing System

Those with ADHD are typically stimulated visually. Use this trait to your advantage by helping your student create a filing system with bright cheerful folders. You might even do this for the wee ones. Bright stickers on folders could grab their attention. For older kids, add symbols and colorful art that is appealing to their age group.

How Much Time?

Encourage your son or daughter to allow substantially more time than they would initially allocate for those homework projects. Help them form realistic time frames for their projects.

Sequential is Good

It can be extremely helpful for ADHD kids to learn how to think sequentially, which does not come naturally for most. Do activities and play games that move in both forward and backward sequencing.

Big Calendars

Old-school giant desk blotter type calendars can be useful for tracking upcoming events, appointments and, of course, homework assignments. A large calendar style whiteboard can also be used. Again, the visual clues are a great stimulus.

Weekend Clean-out

Make it a habit to help your child clean out and re-organize their backpacks and notebooks in preparation for the next school week. For older students, urge them to do the same thing with their school lockers.

Be a Cheerleader

Even if you are seeing only baby steps of progress in your child becoming more organized, share the accolades. Positive reinforcement will very likely generate even more positive behavior.

One of the proudest moments of my life occurred when my two children graduated from college.  Alex graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo/Architecture and Hannah from the University of Oregon/Linguistics.  It was a bit nerve-racking to get from San Luis Obispo to Eugene to attend both ceremonies within 24 hours of each other.  And, their first days of getting settled at college were filled with turmoil (at least for me).  I hope by sharing some of my learnings, getting your child organized for college will be easy breezy.

Your child has been accepted into college. Wow, what a milestone. Congratulations! Now comes the transition from home to a dorm room and independence for your college-bound son or daughter. While there can be an abundance of emotions around this big change for the entire family, the stress can be minimized by organization. Coordinating these tasks together with your “grown-up trainee” will teach them some useful life skills about organizing and being prepared. Taking care of all the details will help launch your college-bound youngster smoothly and create a foundation for them to thrive at school.


If you have an opportunity to visit the college dorm, great. If that visit is not in the cards due to distance or for whatever reason, be resourceful: Check for photos online, talk with other students from the same school, or inquire directly with the college or university. The school may even provide its own list of dos and don’ts for dorm rooms. Is there a mini-fridge in the room? What about a small coffee maker? Are hangers provided or do students need to bring their own? Is there a microwave or basic bedding available? What about a desk lamp and a flashlight? Most dormitory rooms are pretty bare-bones with basic single beds, desks, and closets. Do your homework and support your student in being prepared with everything they will need to be comfortable. Don’t forget that special blanket and a photo of the family for those possible lonely moments when they are missing home.


Again, do your research to learn what textbooks your student will need for all the classes in the first term or semester. The books should be available at the college bookstore, but they do occasionally run out of stock. They may also be found on Amazon or other book suppliers, possibly even at a lesser price. Amazon rents textbooks and will buy back used books when no longer needed. Your child’s new school should have the relevant textbooks listed on their website, likely under the Registrar’s office section.


Does your son or daughter have the appropriate garments for the weather where their new school is located? If your family is from a warm climate area, your child may be blown away by their first Midwest winter. Make sure coats, umbrellas, and even boots are at the ready when winter comes. Does the college have a pool? Make sure your child has a swimsuit to take advantage of that amenity. While your Gen Z student may elect only to take the most casual garments in their wardrobe, you might suggest diversifying a bit. Jeans and hoodies are undoubtedly comfortable, but by adding a few dressier items and a professional outfit or two, they will be prepared for any event.

Healthy Foods

Does your son or daughter have any special dietary restrictions? If so, make sure they are stocked with healthy snacks that fit those needs. And they should know where to procure those treats on campus or nearby. It is a good idea to have your child alert their roommate about any food allergies or food issues, so they do not accidentally ingest the wrong foods. If your child takes any medications, make sure they have a sufficient supply on hand and that the roomie is aware of these, as well.


College tuition is a stretch for many families, so having a frank and honest chat with your child about budgetary parameters is wise. Be clear about what their monthly spending allowance will be and how that will be handled. Is that money from their summer job at the ready for extra spending money? If scholarships are involved, review any stipulations around that help, so everyone is on the same page.


Whether it is navigating the expanse of their new campus environment or the surrounding area, how will your child get around? Will they have a bus pass, a bike, a skateboard, or their car? Whatever their mode of transport, make sure it is in good working order, the license is current and that it is acceptable at their chosen school.


Printed calendars may seem old school to your big kid, but they can create a visual sense of organization. Spring for a large desk calendar or an erasable whiteboard calendar for the wall and a portable notebook-sized one, too. Urge your new college student to track assignment due dates and pace themselves on projects. Many professors reduce grades for late assignments. Have your child add school holidays, trips back home, and parent visits to their calendars so that they can look forward to those breaks.

Another unused item is a battery-operated alarm clock. Ask them to set it for those early wake-ups and place it across the room. That way, they will have to get out of bed to turn it off and have a stronger likelihood of making it to class on time.

Help your child with all the study area supplies they may need and support them in organizing those items with fun cups for pens and pencils, crates for files, etc. The Container Store and Dollar Tree Stores are great places to shop for these items.

Having everything organized will help curtail feelings of apprehension you or your child may have. If you decide this task is too overwhelming, the trio of experts at SolutionsForYou are ready to lend a hand. No organization project is too big or too small for us to handle.

Parents, organization, and planning will be the keys to keeping your cool as September rolls around. Those lovely lazy days of summer are waning, and things are about to get crazy… or not. Yes, your family will soon be busy when school starts, but these tips can make a world of difference and help you stay sane. This plan will support your child in transitioning back to school as well, especially if they are starting a new school and are apprehensive. Mom and Dad have got it covered!

1.   Install a Bulletin Board

Make it fun by involving your kids in the process. Start with a bulletin board in a prominent place in your home. Use this list or make your own. Pin it to the board and go over it with your children. Let them know there will be a prize when all the tasks are completed, like tip number eight below or a movie they have wanted to see. Give everyone little tasks in support of each category, with kudos and hugs to all when completed. Family projects where everyone feels they have contributed is a great way to teach your children about the power of teamwork.

2.   Clean and Sort

Together with your wee ones or middle-schoolers or teens go through their rooms. Sort out the clothing they have outgrown and donate them to a worthwhile cause. This is another terrific learning opportunity for children. Section their closets with summer clothes still being worn handy in front (depending on the weather in your area). Then use a divider (grocery bag with handles over a hanger works well) to separate the new school clothes to one side. Organize their shoes and boots in the same fashion. This project will also help identify what new clothing they need for school. It is a good idea to ask for the children’s cooperation in leaving their new duds in the designated area, at the ready for the start of school.

3.   Create a Study Area

Students of all ages need to have a designated area in which to study and complete their homework, one that is free from distractions. If that place is in their room, help them organize supplies and eliminate clutter, and even create their little filing system and homework log.

4.   Have a dress rehearsal

Make it a game for the kids. Pretend it is the first day of school, pack lunches, lay out new clothes and get everyone up early. The whole nine yards. If everything goes smoothly, take the lunches to the park for an end of summer picnic and maybe even a visit to the ice cream parlor. If your child is starting in a new school, it is helpful to do a dry run. Walk over together or drive the route their school bus will take, then tour the grounds, if access is available. Taking advantage of Back to School Nights, where offered, is also a good plan for the kids to get acclimated before that potentially scary first day.

5.   Details, Details

Make sure your child’s vaccinations are current. Complete all required school paperwork well before classes begin, so you are not scrambling at the last minute. Review the school district requirements online concerning any special documents needed for extra-curricular activities, like sports, your children will be participating in.

6.   Get Those Supplies

Avoid the madness of waiting until the last minute to purchase the required school supplies. Obtain the list from the school as soon as it is available. You don’t want to encounter the first store you visit is out of certain items, forcing you to waste your valuable time by visiting yet another store.

7.   Shop Early

Similar to item six above, don’t be one of those frantic parents shopping with their cranky child for school clothes alongside dozens of other frazzled parents. Especially, don’t wait until those enticing Labor Day sales, which can be crazy-making. You will feel good when you have checked this one off your list. Your child will be happy modeling their new school clothes when you have your dress rehearsal for the first day, too.

8.   Nightie Night

Typically sleep schedules become a bit lax in the summer months. So, it is a good idea to ease children back into the school year sleep schedule. The early to bed, early to rise plan will help them to be rested, alert, and ready to learn.

9.   Celebrate the First Day

Have on hand the ingredients to make your kids’ favorite dinner in celebration of their first day. Give yourself a gold star and enjoy your successful start to the new school year! And, don’t forget that first day of school photo to capture the special moment.

If you need help with organizing projects, large or small, SolutionsForYou is ready to lend a hand.

Give us a call at 503-246-0710



Help Them Find Their Own Method

I have learned from my own experience that what works for me and works for my son and works for my husband doesn’t work for my daughter. If your method of organization isn’t working for your student, help her brainstorm a different method that will work for her. If she can come up with her own solution, she will have more ownership of it and be more successful as a result.

Teach Project Management

Planners are essential for managing large school projects and papers. I suggest students subtract two days from the project’s due date for each week they have to work on it. (For a three-week assignment, for example, subtract six days and consider the new date as the due date.) This gives the student a buffer if anything comes up to throw him off schedule. 

From there, help your student work backward in his planner to create shorter term goals, such as “purchase materials,” “complete outline,” “finish first draft,” etc. This helps them manage their progress along the way and avoid a frantic rush to finish at the end.

Teach Time Management

It is a rare middle school student who can gauge how much time an assignment will take. Suggest your student use a timer to develop the skill. If they time themselves reading a fifteen-page chapter, for example, they’ll have a good idea how long to allocate when they have to read thirty pages, sixty pages, or more.

Plan their week every Sunday night or sometime over the weekend. Instruct the student to write in their planner any known commitments and assignments. Also, review what materials might be needed for projects during the week.


Use Tools Wisely

Most middle school students use binders and planners, but many don’t use them effectively. Help them to choose a binder with several pockets, then designate the pockets as follows: 

  • one for each subject, to hold all completed assignments the teacher has returned
  • one for all homework to complete, so it’s easy to see what needs to be done 
  • one for homework to turn in, which should be empty at the end of each day.

With planners, suggest finding one like Order out of Chaos’s academic planner shown above.  A planner that includes a week-at-a glance, with blank headings for columns and rows. Designate each column as a day of the week and each row as a subject area or class. Include a row for extracurricular activities as well. This way, students can see everything they have to do on each day. If one day looks heavy and another light (no assignments in one class or no extracurricular activities, for example), help your student determine how to use time on the light day to make the heavier day less hectic.

Instruct the student to highlight completed assignments in the planner, and check them off once they’re turned in, so you can quickly scan the week for anything not completed and/or turned in.


Make Homework Routine

You can help by making sure your student has a suitable space to work without distractions and with homework supplies nearby. Find a place that’s comfortable but not so comfortable he’ll fall asleep.

Create a routine of setting aside a specific time for doing homework, not just “sometime tonight.” Have a really specific time so that gets developed into their routine and becomes a habit also.