Design your home for “back-to-school” success all year long

For many of us, September is a time for “back to school” and “back to work”. The lazy, sunny days of summer are behind us and it’s now time we feel the urge to reconnect with our higher mind.

Because the colors, images, shapes and layout of things around us in our daily lives can subtly direct our behaviors and habits, it ‘s a great time to use the energy of the change of season into autumn as a time to declutter, rethink, rearrange and reenergize your living space to support your goals for the new “school year.”

Let’s focus on three key areas of the home that will help you create a smooth transition to a “back to school” routine: the entryway, the kitchen and the bedroom(s).

Entryway Tips

Entries, especially the ones we use each day, create a transition between the “outside world” and the private, nourishing environment of the home. Setting up the space so that coats, shoes, backpacks and sporting equipment do not invade the rest of our personal space ensures organization and order.  Confidence is linked to organization; our ability to prioritize, feel grounded and be successful can be thwarted by clutter and chaos. Imagine if a surgeon were riffling through a pile of instruments to find the right scalpel during surgery; it’s not much different when we don’t have all our school supplies, work necessities and other tools organized and available.

Entering the home through a messy garage or laundry room adds tension to our days; think about how you can reorganize these areas to restore order. Begin by analyzing what you carry in and out of your home every day, and in what order you “drop” them; for instance, keys are usually in hand, so that would be the first thing to accommodate with a hook or wall-hung bin; your mail is next, so use storage spaces such as cabinets and bins to hold this correspondence until you can look at it. If you don’t have space for a mudroom, consider using part of the garage for this. Give everyone a cubby for seasonal outdoor wear and shoes. Add a shelf or basket for cell phones with a charging dock. Install hooks or a basket for keys, lip balm, school IDs and other everyday items. You may want to hang a white board or blackboard so that everyone in the family can write notes or reminders. Another nice touch would be a full-length mirror for that final “out the door” check. If there’s room, place a bench nearby to create a pause and some comfort while putting on shoes and grabbing last-minute essentials.

Kitchen Tips

Kitchens are undoubtedly the heart of the home.  It is where parents and children can turn less “quantity” time into more “quality” time.  Studies indicate that families who snack and dine together live, love and perform better.  In one study, for example, students who ate with their families four or more times a week performed dramatically better in school than those who spend three or less meals with family.  Nutrition and relationships were markedly better, as well—no big surprise. Design a kitchen space to sit with your children for a few moments to focus on them, enjoy a snack and then get them reading to head off to the homework space. Remember to stock your kitchen and pantry with healthy, brain-building snacks. A drawer in the refrigerator or shelf in the pantry with high-protein, low-carbohydrate snacks goes a long way in providing vitality. In the computer room, place the computer screen where Mom or Dad can see it.

Bedroom Tips

Sleep deprivation is nearly an epidemic in our society. Learn to develop a healthy before-bed routine: take a bath rather than a shower, avoid eating several hours before bed, wind down with 20 to 30 minutes of reading then lights out. You can also design your bedroom space to support deep, nourishing sleep.  Remove electronics, the TV and the computer from the bedroom. Sleep in a dark, comfortable environment in colors that are warm and nourishing (yellows or tans) or cool and relaxing (blues and greens).  Avoid vibrant colors and high contrast. Change your mattress and pillows often; softly patterned or solid-colored sheets are the most restful.  Place your bed in a “comfortable” position (meaning, not directly across from the door, not between a door and window and not pushed up against the wall, if possible) and remove all clutter and storage from underneath. Take a good look at your lighting;  bright, center-ceiling lights are “activating”, whereas softer perimeter lighting (lamps) calms the space.   If you use a night light, be sure that the color is warm yellow or pink, not blue nor LED white. Place recent photos of you and your child in the room; this will subconsciously remind them of the guidance, support and care that you give. Many children love to collect things but limit these collections, if possible. Out-of-date or cluttered collections can be an energy drain and distract from clear thinking.  Help your child “curate” their collections, storing them in labeled bins and rotating the few items that they will keep out on display.

Using these simple tips, we can reorganize our homes to help us prioritize and focus, build good habits and foster healthy routines as we step back into the classroom or office after a fun summer.  By designing our living spaces with these goals in mind, we also nourish our relationships and build a stronger foundation for success in whatever we do.