Shed the Clutter: Tips to Stay Organized This Summer

Summertime is an ideal opportunity for families to spend valuable time together. The kids are out of school, the sky is blue, and temperatures are typically warm to hot. Unfortunately, things can get out of control when parents are unprepared and kids aren't engaged in activities that are fun. Not only can kids be a handful when they are bored due to a lack of structure and activity, but things can become hectic when spur-of-the-moment activities arise. Whether you're staying at home for the season or planning to travel to fun and exciting places, it pays to be organized and keep the kids on track for a fun and fulfilling summer.

Planning

The first thing to do, even before summer arrives, is to come up with a plan. Plans start with the creation of a schedule. On a daily basis, parents should have something for their children to do. This can range from simple household chores to family outings and special summer events. It is important for kids to have routine in their lives, and they should understand that even though it is summer, there are household chores that still must be done before the daily fun can begin. When creating a summer schedule, post daily chore charts on the refrigerator and display daily activities on a large desk or wall calendar. Put the calendar in a location where the whole family can see it. When planning a trip away from home, it will likely be the focal point on the schedule. Be creative and make trips a highlight on the calendar to build anticipation and excitement as the date approaches.

Storage

Another way to keep your summer as organized and relaxing as possible is to eliminate excess. One way to do that is to put unused seasonal items into storage. This can include items such as winter decorations, cold-weather clothing, or snow equipment. Depending on the amount, size, and type of items that are being stored, one might choose a shed in the backyard to keep some of these things tucked away. Some items, such as holiday toys, can simply be boxed and stored out of reach in a child's playroom or in the garage. Regardless of where items are being kept, place labels on the boxes so the items inside can easily be identified without opening the box. Some items that are being stored should be for summer use and kept in the car as opposed to a shed. Keep a box or basket filled with items that may come in handy when taking short weekend trips to the beach, for instance. This may include extra flip-flops, hand wipes, a spare beach towel, a drop cloth or plastic tablecloth, or even extra sunscreen.

Be Prepared

In addition to backup supplies, other items must be packed when planning to take a family trip. Anyone who is on medication must make certain that they bring what is needed with them. Daily and emergency medication should be kept in a bag, labeled and placed in a box with other medical or first-aid supplies. This includes items such as hand sanitizer, bug spray, bandages, and alcohol swabs. Snack items are also important for long travel days and can help prevent kids from getting cranky when hungry. In a cooler, keep snacks in individually portioned bags. Snacks ideas include grapes, pretzels, crackers, and bottles of water. Prepared snack bags are easily accessible and will require a minimum of effort to pass out to children in the car. Kids should also have things to do that will help keep them occupied, like games, toys, or books.

Items for use while in transit aren't the only things to keep in mind. If you are staying somewhere for more than a day, other essential items need to be packed. This includes items such as toothbrushes and deodorant. Place everyone's toiletries in their own bag or plastic container with their names on a label. Keep these items with each person's clothing and other belongings.