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Organizing Tips for Parents - 5 Essential To Do Lists

These organizing tips for family to do lists include 5 essential lists for helping to combat the day to day stress of remembering "What's Next?" There are 5 essential lists (and 1 optional) and schedules that I and my children create each semester for school. By involving my children in creating the lists it makes them feel as if they are part of the process and that their opinions are important. My children like the lists also because they can simply look at a list and complete the next task. If you have a child that is too young to read, try letting them draw a picture next to the tasks. The picture will remind your child of the task that should be done.

What to be done when we get home:

For example: put away lunch boxes and any food that was not eaten at lunch; snack time; free time; homework time etc. We list task by task things that should be done each day when we arrive home from school or activities.

Bed Time:

Including selecting clothes for school the next day, showers/baths, brushing teeth, cleaning their rooms.

Preparing for School in the Morning:

This is a schedule which includes times for waking, breakfast, brushing teeth, etc. I list this schedule in order from earliest task to latest. Don’t forget to give yourselves 5-7 few minutes to gather items and get to the door. So many times, this is where schedules break.


For older children, the blocks of time for when homework will be done (i.e. Monday 3:30 – 5 pm, Tuesday 2:30 – 4 pm), for younger children who have the same tasks every week, I suggest noting the time and which section of their homework will be done. For example: Monday 3:30 – 4:15 (spelling), Tuesday 3:30 – 4:15 (writing).

With older children using a schedule such as this is also a way to ensure that there is enough time to complete their homework assignments.

With younger children this type of schedule helps give them structure and ensures that there are no marathon homework sessions Thursday evening or missed assignments.

One last thought about homework and children. Our children have internal clocks just as adults do. Take the time to observe and speak with your child about their energy levels and work habits. In my case, my son works well with a timer. We allot a certain amount of time for each task. With my daughter, she is a morning person so does better by completing her homework as early as possible in the afternoon or early morning.

And don’t forget the importance of a snack and beverage before starting homework. Water, milk, fruit, cheese, this is a great time to get another healthy item into their diets.  Suggestion, place your snacks in a bowl on the kitchen table or in a specific section (i.e. bottom shelf, left side) of the refrigerator.  It seems to be easier to get my kids to eat their snacks if the items are right at hand.

The Daily/Weekly Family Schedule:

Day by day, school drop offs, pick ups, sports, extra curricular activities, family night and day care. If you wish, even which tasks you expect to accomplish on a particular day. This is the scary schedule for a parent. It goes without saying that this is also the schedule which shows if you are in charge of your life or if life is in charge of you.

If you need assistance creating a family calendar, you can find several sources on the web or software products for purchase. Just search for “family calendar”.

What to Take to School Each Day:

This list is optional, but helpful.  List (by day) materials needed for each days events.  For example:

Monday -  John         Wednesday - Susan
Backpack                              Backpack
Gym Bag                               Dance Bag

We taped this list to the front door so each person would be reminded (before we got in the car and started on the way to school!) to grab special bags or equipment for a particular day.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that lists such as these were helpful in relieving me from having to think about or remember tasks.  And by creating a list it made it easier for my children to take responsibility for getting things done and organized.

A tip for “homework helpers” and daily organizers.  Many schools give students daily planners so that kids can list each day’s homework. These organizers may work well for your child, but don’t be afraid to check out other daily/weekly planners that are designed for adults. Especially when your children reach high school and need to schedule not only assignments but also AP tests, application deadlines, and college app dates.   Click on this link to view Weekly/Monthly Academic calendars available on Amazon.com.  I recommend the Blue Sky academic student planners.


Updated  Aug 25, 2014