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Getting Organised

  • Getting ready for school needn’t be a headache

    Did you know, as mums and dads, our stress levels go up by 30% on school mornings and don’t return to normal levels till after lunchtime? Getting the kids ready for school, complete with coats, lunches, and homework, can feel like a daily test of your sanity.

    We talked to Jen of the Dad Network, whose son Louis who has severe dyspraxia and finds getting ready for school difficult.   Jen, a teacher, developed strategies to help Louis organise himself, which will help you get your kids organised and ready for school on time.

    These are her top tips

    1.Put homework, lunch boxes and uniform in a place kids can’t miss.
    Use a notice board in the kid’s bedroom, kitchen or hall to write up what you need for the next day.  You can hang up bags, PE kit and even the school uniform The Tidy Books Forget Me Not noticeboard.  Jen called the Forget Me Not a ‘lifechanger’ because it gives kids a visual prompt.

    tidy books, kids noticeboard, getting organised, ready for school Louis is all ready for the morning with the Tidy Books Forget Me Not. Photo credit The Dad Network

    2. Decide what you want for breakfast the night before
    Choose your cereal before you go to bed. Jen lays out the table each night, ready for the morning. You’ll find breakfast is speedier without having to factor in decision making time.

    3. Label everything in one colour
    Use big name labels in your child’s favourite colour. Labels can be added to coats, PE kit and water bottles so that your child can spot their belongings at a glance.

    4. Pick a favourite colour and stick to it.
    Colour coding is a great way to organise. Buy school pens and pencils all in one colour, so your child can see their belongings instantly. Kids, particularly dyspraxic kids are very tuned into visual prompts.  Colour coding helps them scan for their favourite colour and pick out their belongings quickly.

    5. Use a see-through pencil case
    Cuts down on rummaging time.  Your child can make sure they have their favourite pencil without tipping everything out.

    6. Get into the habit of making notes
    Kids with dyspraxia can struggle to remember the simplest of instructions, and it happens to all of us from time to time.  If you’ve ever found a letter from school left forgotten in the kid's school bag, then teach them to write notes.  Try a notebook or use the whiteboard of the Forget Me Not noticeboard.

    7.Timers
    We’ve all been there; your child’s in the bathroom to brush teeth, but they’re daydreaming in front of the mirror instead.   Jen and Louis use stop clocks to time teeth brushing or minutes left till leaving the house, so everyone knows when they need to be ready for school.

    For more information on living with dyspraxia visit the Dyspraxia Foundation website
    Thanks to Jen of The Dad Network and Louis for sharing their story. This blog content is adapted from an original guest post on the The Dad Network.

    What about you? Is getting the kids to organise themselves is the key to peaceful mornings?

    The Tidy Books kids organiser, the Forget Me Not is available now in Limited Edition new colours; Dark Grey and Soft White

    kids organiser, forget me not, tidy books, school run, ready for school Tidy Books Forget Me Not Kids Organiser in Soft White

    tidy books, forgetmenot, kids organiser, school run, ready for school Tidy Books Forget Me Not in Dark Grey

    geraldine grandidier, tidy books

    Geraldine is Tidy Books’ founder, designer and CEO, as well as mum to Adele and Emile.   She started Tidy Books in her violin workshop because she couldn’t find a good bookcase for her kids.  Now her Tidy Books bookcases and storage designs are encouraging independence and a love of reading in kids all over the world.

  • Why writing a diary is great for kids

    Wondering what to put in the kids’ Christmas stocking this year? Well the National Literacy Trust is encouraging everyone to buy a diary or a journal as a gift. They believe writing a journal is a great way for children to explore language, express themselves and build emotional resilience.

    With daily writing, children can practise their handwriting outside of school. And according to one report, schoolchildren who kept a journal were nearly twice as likely to write above the expected level for their age as those who didn’t.

    The beauty of a diary is that kids can write about whatever they like. It might be what they’ve done that day, how they’re feeling or their hopes and fears. This, say the NLT, gives children the chance to build emotional resilience because writing things down lets them process their thoughts and express their feelings.

    Writing thoughts down is pretty handy for adults too. I have a personal notebook that I write in every evening. It’s somewhere for me to unload or reflect on what I’m immensely grateful for.

    " Diary writing is a brilliant idea for children, because it helps them organise their thoughts and express themselves. 

    Sue Townsend, author of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

    When it comes to your kids, they may need a bit of encouraging – otherwise it might feel like another task they have to do rather than something they can enjoy.   A handy tip is to read your children a book where the main character writes a journal – like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Younger kids could be encouraged to start by using pictures instead of words, or writing with colourful pens and pencils.

    bunk bed buddy, diary, tidy books, bunk bed storage, book shelf, journal Perfect place for a diary: the Tidy Books Bunk Bed Buddy. Photo credit: Would Like to be a Yummy Mummy  www.wouldliketobeayummymummy.com

    Of course a diary is personal so it’s always handy to have a secret place to keep it away from prying eyes. I love the idea of a child scribbling away in their diary then hiding it behind their favourite things on their Bunk Bed Buddy . It's safe in their own little territory – and it’s close at hand whenever they want to write in it.

    And who knows – one day that diary might become a best-selling book!

     

  • Is September the real New Year?

    What’s that sound I hear? Ah yes – it’s a collective sigh of relief as the kids go back to school after the summer holidays. It’s time to return to normality, or the nearest we can get to it anyway.  

    While kids are bound to be sad that it’s the end of their holiday, there’s usually a bit of new-term excitement about going back to school as well. They’ve got their shiny new shoes and pencil case and they’re ready to go! I have to say I’m feeling rather the same way.

    I love September. It’s a great time of year when the sun is still shining (well, maybe!) and you have the beautiful colours of autumn to look forward to. And post-holiday, I feel refreshed and ready to refocus – on friends, family, work, life. There’s a real sense of new beginnings and opportunities.  September is the new New Year !

    toy storage, toy box, sorting box, tidy books The Tidy Books Sorting Box is toy storage to blend with your living room

    And my house has been the first to benefit from my renewed attention. Over the holidays, with my children and their friends around so much I wasn’t particularly strict about them tidying things away. Now that they’re back at school, this laissez-faire attitude has been replaced and – while I can’t say that my home is perfectly clutter-free – there’s definitely more of an ordered calm.

    My secret weapon has been my Sorting Box. I designed this toy storage box to store things away in an orderly fashion – it has three compartments so you’re not just chucking everything into one big toy box then rooting around trying to find what you want. I made them for kids so they could separate their Lego bricks and toys and stuff, but they’re equally handy for older children and adults – in our house we use the Tidy Books Sorting Boxes to store magazines, books, DVDs, scarves, belts... you name it. So now, I’m happy to say, everything is back where it should be.

    And the beauty of the Sorting Boxes is that they don’t clutter up the place. I didn’t want a product that screamed ‘kids’  toy storage’ so I made them chic enough to display in your living space. You can have the boxes dotted around the house and they blend in beautifully. I’ll be honest, if my teenage daughter is happy to have a toy storage box in her room I know I must have done something right.

    So that’s me, basking in that ‘back to school’ glow and loving my new, less-cluttered – for now anyway! – home.   Are you planning to declutter this September?'

  • Adventures in Bunk Bed Land

    Last week I was talking about bunk beds – as you do – with one of my friends. She grew up sharing a bunk bed with her sister and had such sweet memories of her experience. They used to pretend their bed was a ship and loved taking it in turns to climb up the wooden steps to be the lookout. And of course their ship needed lots of sailors – ably played by their teddies!

    It made me smile to hear her stories. Instead of being cross that they had to share a bunk bed, her and her sister loved being together and really embraced their bunk bed as an adventure. It was a comforting experience, too. At night, they often played ‘Tickly Two’ – my friend would stretch her arm down from the top bunk to meet her sister’s outstretched arm and they would gently tickle each other until they felt sleepy.

    I couldn’t imagine my daughter and son having quite such a lovely time together. When Adele and Emile were young they had separate rooms, each with their own bunk bed so they could have a friend staying with them for a sleepover. We were lucky that our house was big enough for the kids to have their own bedrooms, but I don’t know how they would have got along if they’d had to share.

    bunk bed, tidy books, kids room, shelf The Tidy Books Bunk Bed Buddy

    My friend reckons they might have got on better than I imagined. She heard about one woman and her brother who’d shared a bunk bed when they were young, and the brother had helped his sister to read. Apparently he got fed up with her pestering him to read her a bedtime story so he helped teach her to read by herself.

    I love that that little girl learnt how to read independently. It’s exactly why I make all the products I do, so that kids can create their own personal environment and become independent as they learn. I made the Bunk Bed Buddy so kids who sleep on the top bunk can still be close to their books. It also gives them a safe place to put their bedtime drink and allows them to have their own personal area for storing bits and bobs that they want close to them when they’re sleeping.

    My friend wishes she’d had a Bunk Bed Buddy when she was a kid. Much as she enjoyed sharing a bunk bed, she says she would have loved to have had her books and personal things next to her. And she really wishes she’d had somewhere to keep her teddies safe so she didn’t wake up to find her special sailors had fallen overboard in the night!

    * Do your kids have bunk beds? I’d love to hear how they get on – drop me a line.

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