Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to School Organization: Launch Pads and Landing Zones

We're just a few days away from from the first day of school.  If you're a parent, you've got a lot on your mind! Here's a quick list of things to do before school starts to make sure you, your kids and your home are prepared.

10 Things For Parents to Do 
Before the First Day of School

  1. Have a supply of desperation dinners; stock the freezer with convenience meals
  2. Start working on the routine for waking up and going to bed- it won't be easy, but it will be worth it
  3. Get all of the laundry done and begin sorting- out with the old, to make room for the new
  4. Declutter and streamline- office, bedroom, bathroom
  5. Get everyone looking good- hair cuts, clean teeth, new glasses
  6. Get them cleared with the doctor- physicals and immunizations
  7. Get to work on a family calendar- start marking holidays, practices, games
  8. Synchronize- review the back to school plan with spouse, kids, important people in your life
  9. Begin back to school shopping- clothes, school supplies, lunch items
  10. Create a launch pad and landing zone

Launch Pads and Landing Zones

Creating a launch pad and landing zone for my home with something I never really thought of until I was educating a patient about memory compensatory strategies. It's a suggestion SLPs make very often:  keep things in a predictable location. 

Putting things in a designated location makes it easy for you to find them if your memory is an issue. Likewise, putting things in a specified location can help an entire family function more efficiently.  

It's really pretty simple: designate an area, give it a catchy name and begin the training process. 

Here's how it all started for me.

The three square feet surrounding the front door of  our home was out of control. There was a mound of shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, jackets and clothes that collected there. With a family of six, that usually meant at least 12 shoes, 4 backpacks, 2 lunch boxes, 5 jackets, 3 baseball caps, and an odd assortment of socks.   During sports seasons, it could mean 4 additional gym bags, 8 more shoes, a collection of balls and, most likely, a few helmets.

After tripping over the pile one day, I was determined  to create a system of keeping the doorways and hallways free of clutter.  

Now, in a hallway not far from the front door, we have 4 wall hooks to hang backpacks, lunch boxes and jackets. Additional gear and shoes can be placed neatly on the floor under the hooks. 

Voila…the landing zone!

Wanting to capture all of the things that are easily misplaced, I added a few more things. There's a key box on a table near the front door. That's the landing zone for keys and sunglasses. There's a basket near my desk that serves as the landing zone for incoming mail.  A bin in the kitchen serves as a landing zone for important school papers. The kids know this is the designated drop spot to for permission slips, project information sheets and fund raiser order forms, etc.

The creation of our landing zone made it easy to establish a launch pad.  It's essentially the same, just done in reverse order. In the morning, kids know exactly where to find shoes, lunch boxes, back packs, lunch money and school materials before they head out the door.

Not only are the kids able to find their things without asking for my help, everyone gets out of the house faster in the morning.  As an added bonus, I can't recall a single time last year I had to drop off something at school because it was forgotten at home.


Whether you're pressed for time, up to your eyeballs in clutter or having a senior moment, creating a landing zone and launch pad for your family is a super idea. Get started organizing your space for efficiency today, and you'll be off to a good start when school begins. 

Organization isn't about perfection, it's about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life. 
Christine Scalise