Drop Everything! How to Organize your Drop Zoneback
With a new school year fast approaching, now is a perfect time to get your family’s drop zone in order. A drop zone is the place in your home where coats, backpacks, shoes and homework are picked up and dropped off each day.
Picturing and Planning
Yes, it IS possible to create and maintain an organized drop zone for your family! The key is developing a system that works with your family’s needs. Consider for a moment how well your children follow the rules everyday for putting things away at school: First – they know where everything ‘lives’. Secondly, they are able to reach their hangers and storage cubbies. And finally, they know that a teacher will not come behind them and do it for them!
Creating a similar system at home makes it easy to learn and accessible for your children. As well, learning to put things in the right spot teaches them important life skills.
Utilizing Family Habits
Many times we create systems based on how they look in a magazine or catalog. It is important to plan your system to work around your family’s specific needs and habits. As you plan your space, look around and see what gets naturally dumped where. For instance, if you and your spouse like to leave your keys right inside the door, hang hooks or place a small bowl right where you are already leaving (and often losing) your keys. If it works for your family, that’s your routine!
Organizing Your Space
Just like families, drop zone systems are completely personal and widely variable, however, here are a few common categories to consider:
- Assign a home for backpacks, bags, coats and shoes.
- Make sure that young children’s hangers are at their eye level. A bench does double duty as children can sit down to put on/take off shoes and store them under.
- If space is cramped, consider going vertical. An over-the-door shoe hanger with pockets can hold a variety of smaller, easily misplaced items, such as mittens and hats. Assign lower rows to younger children, while adults use the higher pockets. Labeling with names (or pictures for non-readers) helps eliminate confusion and missing items.
Have a bin or basket for each person to empty backpacks, purses, mail into. Schedule a few minutes each day to sort through papers and identify which require action, which are to be saved and which can go straight into the circular file.
Each season brings a new set of items into your drop zone. Designate an area that changes with the season – a boot tray to collect snowy items; a laundry basket for wet swimsuits and towels. Move off-season items out of the daily-use area, onto higher shelves or, if space is tight, with longer-term storage items in the attic or basement.
Proper lighting in your entryway is a must! Use traditional, directional (downwards, not upwards) lighting so that everyone can see the new systems and labels you have created. If your space is not wired for light, use battery-operated fixtures.
Starting New Habits
After dinner and homework, take time to repack backpacks with completed homework, books, instruments, snacks and water bottles for the next day. If your children participate in extra-curricular activities, designate a bag for each child’s activity and ask them to pre-pack that as well. Adults can also use this time to pack their own bags; briefcases, purses and gym bags that are ready to go in the morning are less likely to be missing important items or left behind entirely. Posting a checklist on the back of the door serves as a last-minute reminder.
As we go back to school, having systems and routines in place that your family trusts and uses are a necessity! An organized drop zone will help everyone make the transition from home to school to home again each day with confidence and ease. Don’t delay, organize your drop zone today!