Thursday, November 23, 2017
Deals & Shopping

How to create a back-to-school command center

RECOMMENDED READING


There are certain truths that become evident at back-to-school time for most of us: The kids still haven't stopped growing, and we need to update their comically ill-fitting wardrobes. The school supply list is longer, and the prices higher, than last year. The family is woefully disorganized.

Thank goodness for people such as Ellen Delap, a certified professional organizer in Kingwood, Texas, with a smart blog ( professional-organizer.com/WordPress). She also works as a family manager coach. Her expertise can make that transition into the new school year, and the months ahead, smoother. Here are some tips from Delap.

Three-part process

Organizing for the school year goes beyond slapping a planner on the wall (though that's not a bad idea). Delap says there are three areas that need to be well-regulated: your house, your schedule and your finances. The house and schedule are obvious (more on them later). Financial organizing is sometimes overlooked. There are a lot of checks that need to go out in the fall — extracurricular fees, ballet lessons and the like. Relegate them to one spot and keep on top of them. Bills, like scheduling, can be overwhelming when they start pouring in.

Command center: Set up a command center, one spot where all planning is done. It should have a desk-top sorter, a wall area with dry erase calendars, and wall pockets for papers (incoming mail, permission slips, school papers that need to be signed, tax receipts, etc.). Yes, we live in a growing electronic society, but we still have to deal with paperwork. Triage it, sorting the urgent from the merely important and the trash.

Family calendar: Whether digital or that calendar stuck to the wall or fridge, the calendar lists what's going on in individuals' lives, where they need to be and when. Potential conflicts can be headed off. "These are critical," Delap says.

Weekly meeting: A weekly family meeting is a great way to ensure everyone is in the game. "Families live in the moment so much, even something like a vacation, you won't talk about until the last minute," Delap says. A weekly meeting reminds everyone what is coming up. Attendance is mandatory. If one of the kids balks, well, have the meeting be the time allowances are handed out. The kids will attend.

Basic routines: Set specific times for regular tasks, based on family members' schedules. Is Saturday generally a slower day? Make that laundry day. Too much laundry for one day? Break the chore into two days. Make Friday grocery shopping night. "We always know the trash is collected a certain day," she says. "So find one or two family members to take the trash out the night before." Delap also suggests posting a chart listing the various jobs. "Then it's not like you're nagging."

"I hate this!" No one loves every task he or she is assigned. If little Rico grumbles about unloading the dishwasher, give him another job, one he will like better. It's all about getting the family to work as a team. "When you create these partnerships for responsibility, it's a lot more fun," Delap says. "No one wants to be left in the kitchen alone."

Dealing with emergencies

If you have a routine in place, family members can adjust to take up the slack for a missing member. That also serves to strengthen the family and engender a feeling of accomplishment.

Comments
5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

1. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show and Sale: Check out these rocks when more than 50 dealers from around the United States sell crystals, minerals, beads, gems and jewelry. $5. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday deals at Legoland, SeaWorld, Disney and more

Black Friday isn’t just for stores. Many theme parks and attractions in Florida are also offering up deals that could make a nice gift or family splurge. The smaller the park, the bigger the deal, so Legoland, Gatorland and SeaWorld are toutin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hyde Park Village adds new tenants and markets abound in St. Pete

Hyde Park Village adds new tenants and markets abound in St. Pete

GREAT TIMING: NEW AT HYDE PARK VILLAGETampa shopping destination Hyde Park Village is the trooper of all local retail, chugging steadily along even as road construction made it hard to access. They made it through all that, all the while adding new s...
Published: 11/16/17
Can toy stores create Toys ‘R’ Us kids in an Amazon world?

Can toy stores create Toys ‘R’ Us kids in an Amazon world?

Stefanie Dunlop is pinning high hopes on her Fingerlings.Cute, robotic creatures that interact with their owners, they are this year’s white-hot Christmas toy, the Furbys and Hatchimals of 2017. On this weekday in Clearwater, Toys ‘R’ Us and Target h...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/22/17
5 under $5: Sand sculptors, free ice skating, Pinellas Trail performances

5 under $5: Sand sculptors, free ice skating, Pinellas Trail performances

1Sanding Ovations: This annual Treasure Island sand sculpting competition brings master sculptors working in 150 tons of sand. This year artists come from Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, Russia, Lithuania, Canada and the United States. An adjac...
Published: 11/15/17
5 under $5: Festival of Reading, Florida Orchestra family concerts, Circus McGurkus returns

5 under $5: Festival of Reading, Florida Orchestra family concerts, Circus McGurkus returns

1. Ian Harvie: The actor who plays Dale on Amazon’s Transparent will give a free talk Tuesday as part of the University Lecture Series at USF’s Marshall Student Center. The comedian’s performance will demonstrate how laughter has no...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/10/17
5 things to do under $5: Snooty and Gregg Allman remembered, free tree climbing

5 things to do under $5: Snooty and Gregg Allman remembered, free tree climbing

1Festival of the Skeletons: Snooty the manatee and Gregg Allman, two much-loved local icons who died this year, will be honored with special Day of the Dead shrines at the Dia de los Muertos festival at Bradenton’s Village of the Arts. There wi...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens offers 2018 Fun Card early, with a free Adventure Island pass

Busch Gardens has put its 2018 Fun Card on sale early, meaning you can get two free months to visit the Tampa theme park for the rest of this year and a free Adventure Islands water park pass in 2018. This is the fifth year that Busch Gardens has of...
Updated one month ago
Bodhi Basics celebrates their new location and Halloween ComicFest comes to local shops

Bodhi Basics celebrates their new location and Halloween ComicFest comes to local shops

It's likely you've seen products from St. Petersburg-based personal care company Bodhi Basics around town. The line was established in 2011 as a pop-up shop, and the response to the natural products was so positive that owner Kim Vorperian,...
Updated one month ago
Splurge or save: Cozy home accessories for a designer-approved autumn refresh

Splurge or save: Cozy home accessories for a designer-approved autumn refresh

Summer is eternal in San Diego, much like Florida, but despite the year-round pleasant weather, interior designer Vanessa Matsalla still likes to decorate her home with cozy accessories for the fall."The autumn refresh is all about refinement using n...
Updated one month ago