Creating an organized and functional drop zone for kids’ back-to-school backpacks can help streamline your morning routines and keep things tidy. At Abundance Organizing we use the word launch pad when referring to a drop zone. Establishing a launch pad for your kids gives you that needed in-between place to house items needed when you leave and when you return home. Here are some tips for creating a drop zone in your home for your kids:
CHOOSE THE LOCATION:
Choose a specific area near the entrance of your home for the drop zone. It could be a corner of the foyer, a mudroom, or even a dedicated section of the hallway. Establish your drop zone around your family and in a way that will help you and your kids.
- LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: Take some time at this point to think about your comings and goings. If your child always enters the house through the front door, then shoes will find their resting spot at the front door. Ensure that the drop zone is easily accessible for your kids. If they need to use a step stool to reach hooks or shelves, make sure it’s sturdy and safe.
- FRAME OF THE DROP ZONE: A drop zone can be a simple piece of furniture that has drawers, the entryway closet, set up in the mudroom, the kitchen desk, or a location set up in the garage.
- LIGHTING: If the area is dimly lit, consider adding a small lamp or wall sconce to make it easier to see and organize items.
- SEATING: If space permits, include a small bench or seating area. This gives your kids a place to sit while putting on or taking off their shoes.
BUILD THE DROP ZONE:
A drop zone can be a simple piece of furniture that has drawers, the entryway closet, set up in the mudroom, the kitchen desk, or a location set up in the garage. Here are a couple tips for what we have found helpful when building and establishing a drop zone:
- CUBBIES OR SHELVES: Incorporate cubbies or shelves for additional storage. If you are using a piece of furniture, the drawers or cabinets can be used in the same way. Each child should have their own space to store items like lunch boxes, shoes, or sports gear.
- OVER-THE-DOOR SHOE ORGANIZERS: If you are using the entryway closet as your launch pad, then may we recommend an over-the-door shoe organizer? Everything from cold weather gear to small umbrellas and sunscreen work well in this organizing product. Kids are able to see the items for an easy grab, and they can definitely catch on fast to putting items back into the pockets.
- HOOKS: Assign specific hooks to specific items. It may take a little bit to build a routine, but kids can get used to hanging their backpacks and coats on specific hooks. Make sure that the hooks are at an appropriate height for each kid.
- BINS: Use bins to house items that need to go back to school, such as completed homework, library books, or permission slips. Especially with clear bins, this helps prevent last-minute searches for important items.
- BASKETS: Provide baskets for items like hats, gloves, other accessories, or shoes. This prevents clutter from accumulating on the drop zone surface.
GIVE EVERY ITEM A HOME:
It is important to give every item a home so that items do not continue to collect into piles or get lost when you need them most. This is when a drop zone really can be thought of as a launch pad. If each item has its home, then this makes going out the door so much easier – almost as if you are being launched out the door.
- BACKPACKS, BAGS, AND JACKETS: Assign specific hooks to specific items. It may take a little bit to build a routine, but kids can get used to hanging their backpacks and coats on specific hooks. Guess what?! This makes going out the door so much easier because the item can be easily found on the hook where it was left.
- LUNCH BOXES: Put lunch boxes in their own place. Anyone else forget to empty lunch boxes or can’t find the lunch box in your Monday morning rush? If you have a designated place – a hook, basket, bin, or shelf – where lunch boxes go at the end of each day, then it will be much easier to remember to empty old food and find the lunch box to fill with food.
- PAPER: Have an area specifically designated for paper. All paperwork, especially kids’ documents can easily get out of control. Whether you designate a container or a basket, assign any paperwork such as schoolwork and artwork a home. You want this place to be visible to remind you to look through it each month/quarter. For more on saving kids documents for keepsake bins or letting paper go, here is a great blog post.
CREATE A SPACE FOR YOUR FAMILY:
How much help do your kids presently need to get out the door? It can be very helpful to set up each kid with their own vertical space so that they can quickly grab all the items they need to leave the door – shoes, coat, backpack, lunch tote, etc… – on their way out the door. Maybe it works better for your family to give everyone their own basket? Would it be helpful to keep calendars or schedules or reminders in your drop zone? What about paperwork? Here are a couple more ideas for creating a drop zone:
- CALENDAR OR WHITEBOARD: Install a small calendar or whiteboard where you can jot down important dates, reminders, or messages. This helps everyone stay on top of their schedules.
- BULLETIN BOARD: Incorporate a bulletin board where you can pin school notices, permission slips, or artwork. This keeps important information visible and prevents it from getting lost.
- HAVE FUN: Let your kids personalize their drop zone area with their favorite colors, artwork, or decorations. This will make them more likely to use and take care of the space.
DROP ZONE MAINTENANCE:
It doesn’t happen overnight. Kids need to be reminded about where to put items until it becomes part of their routine. Here are a couple ideas for helping you to maintain your drop zone:
- LABELS: Labels are helpful for all ages. Kids will better remember where to find items and where to put away items. When it comes to young kids, picture labels can work better than words. Items in the pictures can be recognized even when words cannot be read.
- REGULAR MAINTENANCE: Establish a routine for the drop zone area surrounding backpacks, lunch boxes, and the general tidy up of the area. Encourage your kids to put away their belongings as soon as they come home to avoid clutter buildup.
- ENCOURAGE RESPONSIBILITY: Teach your kids to take responsibility for their belongings. Encourage them to unpack their backpacks, bring their lunch boxes to the kitchen, and to put the items they use back into the correct bins/baskets.
- ROUTINE PRACTICE: Create a routine where kids know that the first thing they do when they get home is to put away their belongings in the drop zone. Consistency will help establish this as a habit. They will hang their backpacks on the correct hooks, place their shoes on the rack or in the basket and put their other items into the proper bin. Routines will turn into habits with enough repetition!
Remember that the key to a successful drop zone is its functionality and ease of use. Tailor the setup to your family’s needs and preferences, and make adjustments as necessary to ensure a smooth back-to-school routine. We want to see photos and hear about you creating a drop zone! Let us know in our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook.