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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Staying Organized Once School Lets Out

School will be letting out soon for the summer and the kids will be home all day. That means re-arranging your schedule to accommodate summer camps and trips to the pool and family vacations - it also means that your children will be having friends over and tearing your house up while you're at work! How on earth will you stay organized once the wild rumpus begins?

Start Planning, Now

The only way to survive the warmer months of the year when you have kids is to be two steps ahead of the game -- but you can go a long way toward guaranteeing a more enjoyable break for everyone if you are willing to a) plan ahead and b) draw some boundaries. Let's start with the planning first. Don't wait until the last bell rings before you plot out your schedule for the summer. Sit down together as a family and discuss all the activities that you want (and need) to fit in before classes start back -- that includes out-of-town trips, incoming visitors, work projects, and kids' programs (at the library, the YMCA, the local community center.) Put in your vacation request at work early, and don't forget to factor in those long weekends like July Fourth or Labor Day. Then plot everything out on a calendar, and scan the horizon for time crunches and scheduling conflicts. Remember, compromise is the key to harmony in any family, so each person needs to be wiling to give a little to make the whole thing work.

However, even with advance planning, children will still run you ragged unless you set some limits. When unencumbered by classes and books and teachers' dirty looks, kids are hit with a sudden rush of freedom -- they want to do anything and everything (usually all at the same time) to make the most of their days off. But it just may not be feasible for your child to take swim lessons, play in the summer baseball league, spend two weeks visiting relatives, AND participate in that really cool kid's science program at the university. It's up to you as the parent to keep this year's agenda under control -- but let your child make the choice. Allow him to select maybe two weekly activities and one trip to take, making sure that nothing overlaps or conflicts. Remind your child that, if it won't fit in the schedule this time, he can always do it next year. You'll be helping him not only strengthen his decision-making muscle, but also start to decide what's really important and what he could live without (powerful skills to have at any age!)

And while you want your kids to enjoy their time off, there's no reason why children should be excused from a basic level of responsibility, just because they're out of school. I remember summer vacations, when I had the house to myself while my parents worked. When I had friends over, we might pull out the paint and clay and get creative. Or decide to splatter an elaborate picnic lunch all over the kitchen. Or rearrange the furniture to build a fort. Or even set up an obstacle course using lawn chairs and step ladders in the yard (it's a wonder I didn't break my neck before the age of 18!) There was just one rule. I could make any kind of mess I wanted during the day -- as long as it was gone by the time my mom got home. Just because your kids have a huge chunk of time off, that doesn't mean that you do -- nor are you required to spend your precious hours at home cleaning up after them (wouldn't you rather be enjoying their company and making memories, instead of sweeping and putting their toys away?) I'm all for kids having adventures during their summer breaks, but there's no reason they can't also be made responsible for picking up after themselves at the same time!

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posted on: 6/2/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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