Five Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Last-minute Headaches This School Year

You don't have to stress out about the beginning of the school year, says author-organizer Kathy Peel. She has come up with helpful suggestions in her new book, The Busy Mom's Guide to Getting Organized: Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas. Peel, often called "America's Family Manager" says there are 5 things you can do to avoid last-minute headaches. Following these tips can and make the transition from summer to fall go more smoothly:

Avoid scheduling snafus

• Create "Control Central" –your home base of operation where you track family schedules and other important details. Make it a central location, like a countertop or desk in the kitchen.

• Keep your family calendar, phone messages, grocery/supply lists, and a binder with school information for each child here so you can stay on top of everyone's schedule and items they need.

Keep track of important papers.

• Purchase stackable in-boxes (one for each child) and let kids personalize their own. (Place near Control Central.)

• Instruct kids to unload school papers and forms from their backpacks into their in-boxes immediately after school. It's Mom or Dad's responsibility to look at papers at night and follow through on any necessary actions.

• Kids should re-load their backpacks with signed forms and homework papers before bed so they're ready to go the next morning. [Prop: In-boxes]

Establish morning routines.

• Decide how much time your family will need to ready, then add 15 minutes buffer to the schedule.

• Have kids choose clothes and accessories the night before. (Store out-of-season items and clothing not appropriate for school out of sight to make choosing easier.) Buy "fast" clothes for younger children—shoes with Velcro fasteners and tagless T-shirts, for example. (Shoelaces and clothes with a lot of buttons slow kids down.)

• Put a timer in the bathroom and time showers so you can keep family members moving in and out of the bathroom on schedule.

• Create a "no play before you're ready" rule. No toys, TV, or computer games until you've completed any morning chores and you're ready to walk out the door,

• Create a 10-minute warning. Set a timer to go off 10 minutes before it's time to walk out the door.

Stock up on school supplies.

• Set up a designated space where kids can do their homework, and store supplies nearby. Pick up extra supplies to keep on hand for homework projects, such as construction paper, colored pencils and markers, folders for reports and poster board. (This way you'll avoid late-night runs to the store for items your child forgot to tell you he needed.)

Prepare for a smooth start for first-timers

• If this is your child's first year at school, ease tension by adjusting bedtime and your morning schedule a few days before school begins. Get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast as you will when school begins.

• Walk together to the bus stop or school. Review safety rules.

• Have your child practice using a lunch box or carrying a tray of food


Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas

You're a mom and you're busier than ever, juggling all kinds of tasks. You work, coordinate schedules, get dinner on the table, pay the bills, plan birthday parties and family vacations and manage a host of other responsibilities. Armed with cell phones, the Internet, double ovens, grocery stores that deliver, and casual office attire, you are a world-class multi-tasker, but you are still part of the most time-strapped generation ever. When you have questions, you need answers you can trust – fast. Wouldn't it be great to have a one-stop resource with tips and advice on how to be a great mom and manage your home well, every day, all year long?

That's where Kathy Peel comes in. Known as "America's Family Manager" and author of 19 books, Peel offers moms quick solutions and practical advice in THE BUSY MOM'S GUIDE TO A HAPPY, ORGANIZED HOME (Picket Fence Press, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers; $16.99; August 5, 2008). This easy-access, A-Z reference guide offers solutions to frequently asked questions and provides hundreds of ways to make every day easier.

In Kathy's own quest to be a good mom and successful manager of her home, she devised the Family Manager system. It's based on the idea that the strategies that run any organization or business well will help you run your home well. Kathy has organized the book according to the seven key areas of your life:

Time & Scheduling – managing the family calendar and daily schedule.

Home & Property – overseeing the maintenance and care of all of your tangible assets.

Food – meeting the daily food needs of your family.

Family & Friends – fulfilling relationship responsibilities as a parent, spouse, and friend.

Finances – managing the budget, bill paying, saving, investing, and charitable donations.

Special Events – planning and coordinating occasions that fall outside your normal routine.

Self Management – caring for your body, sharpening your mind, and nourishing your spirit.

She provides helpful tips and tactics for each of these seven departments to help you accomplish all the tasks you have to do faster and find more time and energy for the things you want to do. THE BUSY MOM'S GUIDE TO A HAPPY ORGANIZED HOME also includes helpful checklists and charts to simplify daily tasks, a list of best Web site resources for moms, and an extensive cross-referenced index at the end of the book to help moms find information faster.


Kathy Peel is called "America's Family Manager" by journalists and millions of readers. In her engaging and entertaining style, she delivers sage advice and smart solutions on how to:

· Create a happy, low-stress home
· Simplify busy schedules
· Raise responsible, respectful children
· Build a strong family team
· Conquer clutter and get organized
· Discover your God-given potential

Founder and CEO of Family Manager Coaching, Kathy has written 19 books which have sold over 2 million copies, including Desperate Households, Family for Life, Be Your Best, The Family Manager's Guide to Summer Survival, and Discover Your Destiny.

Kathy serves as AOL's Family and Kids' Coach and is a contributing editor for She is also a popular speaker at conferences, corporate events, and churches. Kathy writes for numerous magazines and is frequently interviewed as an expert on home and family management, women's health and well-being, and parenting.

She has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs, including Oprah), Good Morning America, Today, The Early Show, CNN, MSNBC, HGTV, Lifetime, The Discovery Channel, The Fine Living Network, The Food Network, and Focus on the Family. Her ideas and advice have been featured in hundreds of newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Dallas Morning News, The Chicago Tribune, The Orange County Register and many others. Her articles and interviews have appeared in magazines such as Family Circle, Women's World, First for Women, American Baby, Reader's Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Women's Day, Parenting, Parents, Working Mother, InStyle, Entrepreneur, Business Week, and Today's Christian Woman. She is listed in Who's Who in Media.

Kathy is the mother of three sons and lives in Dallas, TX with her husband.

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