My Must Have Tool for Back to School

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


“Back to School.” The words veritably ooze with meaning. For some the words conjure up fun pictures of shopping, bright colored tools, making new friends and hanging out with old friends.

For others it means studying, adjusting to new teachers, and studying (did I say that already?).

Mostly it means finding and settling into a routine. A routine that includes:

  • A place to study
  • A place to keep supplies
  • A stock pile of supplies appropriate to each child’s age and needs
  • Time periods for studying
  • Morning processes for getting out of the house on time
  • Processes for having the essentials when you leave the house
  • How to get homework done in a timely manner

WAIT! “Getting homework done in a timely manner!”

I’m a parent, and I’ve spent time teaching in a high school classroom. So trust me when I say the most important tool for school this year is your student’s academic planner IF they use one that actually helps them manage their time.

I was back in the classroom recently and was reminded just how most students limp through their year. Most are using assignment books.

Assignment books amount to a list of assignments listed on a due date. This list is usually referenced the night before the assignment is due, which is why teachers often hear reasons excuses about work not being done.

  • “I didn’t get my homework done last night (last night being the operative words) because I had play practice.”
  • “I couldn’t finish my homework because I had to go shopping for my basketball shoes.”

If only they had been able to see just how busy their week was going to be, the student could have planned another night (other than “last night”) to do homework.

Take a look at this Academic Planner.

Physical features that are great:

  • comes in two sizes: 8.5″ x 11″ and or 8.25″ x 8.5″
  • card stock dividers
  • two page  layout
  • choice of covers


Features that set this planner apart:

  • Space for recording after school and evening responsibilities. If the student can see how all of their time is being utilized, they will be able to see what time is available for doing homework during the week, rather than just the night before.

You can’t manage the time you cannot see!

  • Record classes just once. For high school or college when your classes may change mid-year, you can purchase custom-fit labels to cover the old class schedule.
  • Project planning sheets.
  • Can be used alone or place in a three-ring binder.
  • Complementary tools to use with the academic planner.

The planner is more expensive that your assignment book. But I think it pays for itself in teaching your student to manage his time. Less reminders from you is always a win.

But I can also offer you a one-time 20% discount on the planner. Use the code PLANNER20.

As a mom, former teacher, and especially as a department supervisor for a clothing company, I can tell you how important I think it is for people to know how to manage their time! It’s vital!

Check it out and enjoy the discount. And happy ‘Back to School” shopping!

Pretty Organizing on a Budget

We all hate it, but most of us live by a budget. Maybe, we don’t hate the budget; we just hate it when there doesn’t seem to be much allotted to organizing.

I mean, really, have you ever seen a line item on any budget that says “organizing.” It almost makes me laugh to think about it. (As a professional organizer, I know that everyone from time to time needs something or somewhere organized, and the help of a professional is often a great option. But no one ever told me I was a budgeted item. Come to think of it maybe we should encourage such a thing.)

When there isn’t a budget for organizing or buying products that aid in that pursuit, then organizing on a budget it is.

But just because you don’t spend a lot doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful!

A deep search on the topic will yield tips  for storage containers like:

  • “shop” for baskets and bins in your own home first
  • use hacks for storage, i.e. cover cereal box bottoms with pretty paper, egg cartons, muffins tins
  • shop at thrift stores and dollar stores

Ideas for shortcuts are everywhere for different areas of your home, but when you finish, somehow you think “this isn’t as pretty as the pictures I see online. I guess that’s what I get for trying to do this on a budget.”

Here are a few ideas on how to be pretty on a budget:

  • Use the same color containers or involve a color scheme that you love. Even if you have to cover boxes with paper, for heaven’s sake cover them with paper; don’t leave just the box. Make the papers coordinate or match, whatever you love. Even if you have to buy dollar store containers, buy the same color. The color coordination will add the value of being pleasing to the eye.
  • Use items that you have stashed away because you “love them and don’t want anything to happen to them.” My experience with my own “valuables” tells me that I’ll never enjoy them because there is always the possibility that “something will happen.” Truthfully, I’m not hard on my possessions, and I’m guessing that you’re not either. Get out those beloved pieces and re-purpose them for your organizing. It helps the budget, and you’ll love “what you’ve done with the place.”
  • If you need to buy products, spend the little bit more to get buy the products that enhance the appearance of your space, even if it is a closet. I know that other people don’t see inside your closet, but you do. And you matter. This is the space that you live in and work in. It matters what it looks like. It makes the work seem lighter if you love being there.

Organizing on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a pretty spot. Take your time finding the right pieces in the right color scheme that are the right size and shape for the job. You’ll enjoy space even more.

How to Help the People You Love – Part 2

In part one of this three part series on how to help the people you love, I talked about helping them in the way that they need help. Not the way we think to help them. Only the person who needs help can really tell us what they need.

In the last post, I mentioned “if you’re a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a grandmother, well, any one with estrogen surging through them, then you have experienced the urge to be helpful. You’ve wanted to be helpful to those you love, and sometimes even to a perfect stranger.” If you fall in one of those categories, then I know that my next suggestion is going to be hard for you.

Nurturers by nature are helpful. And being helpful means pitching in, getting our hands dirty, doing what’s necessary. Being helpful somehow implies that we need to be in the fray. But by its very definition, helpful means “giving or ready to give help.” And the last part of that definition is what I want to talk about.

“Ready to give help” is not the same as being involved. It’s just means we are ready to help if that person tells what they need from us.

When we see someone we love hurting, working hard, in a time crunch, frustrated, etc., it’s hard to not rush to their aid. But sometimes the best thing we can do is stay out of the way. 

Real life example:

You are awakened from a deep sleep when you hear a noise in the house. Of course, you wake your husband up to check things out. But you insists on going with him to disarm the burglar. In essence what will happen?

  • you distract him from what he really needs to do
  • you become a secondary priority that requires part of his attention
  • your opinions distract him from finding the solution (you know you’re going to be telling him how he ought to handle this issue)
  • he is safer

I know it’s a silly illustration, but you didn’t really want me to go there about us girls trying to help our husbands in those real life scenarios. Did you?

Real life example:

Your daughter comes home from school heart broken. Romeo has broken her heart. First reaction of a Southerner: “snatch him bald” (deep South), “wring his neck” (middle South), “give him a piece of my mind” (just South). But staying out of the way of this relationship issue, instead of helping, while going against the grain of a nurturer, will be the best help a mother can give.

What happens to our loved one when we stay out of the way?

  • they find a solution on their own
  • they learn that some problems resolve themselves, if given enough time
  • they grow in their trial
  • they learn about themselves
  • they develop life skills in the process


Being helpful means “being ready to help.” Being ready doesn’t entail action. Sometimes the best help we can give to the people we love is to stay out of their way, and let them know that we are available . . . if they need our action.