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Get organized

Keep calm with these back-to-school tips


By Angel Llamanzares Martinez

It’s back-to-school for most of us now. With the current traffic situation, demands from schoolwork and, of course, our own work, things can get pretty chaotic. Getting organized is really a must to ensure each member of the family is able to fulfill their obligations and stay sane. How do you get organized? We asked these moms for tips on how they manage meeting all their children’s daily school requirements.

Stick to a daily schedule, no matter what

School days mean waking up early. It takes time for children to eat breakfast, and get ready and travel to school. We also have our own activities planned for the day. But the most important thing to guide us all by is to remember to stick to schedules.

“I wake up at 4:40 a.m. if we have help in the house. If none, it’s 4:00 a.m. I wake the kids up at 5:00 a.m. I drive my daughters to their respective schools while the driver brings my son to his. They go to three different schools and the schedules of the kids make it difficult to share rides with others, that’s why we don’t carpool or let them ride the school bus.” This is how Tina Silva-Navarro 43, wife to Jeffrey Navarro, and mother to Sofia, 15; Rocco, 12; and Poey, 9; starts and ends her day everyday. Tina is also the woman behind the clothing company Ilaya Couture. Twice a week, she goes straight to one of her workshops to check on the production line. She adds, “Once or twice a week, I visit textile suppliers or their warehouses to check if our orders arrived on time. I’m particular about the quality of fabrics and other trimmings connected to our line of business, so I personally check our supplies.” In the afternoons, picking up her children from school is also part of her daily schedule. “I like spending time with them, especially when I pick them up in the afternoons. They tell me how their day (both good and bad) and how hungry they are (always very hungry).”

Tina Silva Navarro with children Sofia beside Tina’s husband Jeff, Rocco and, Poey. With her children going to different schools, she has a driver to help her out on weekdays

Dr. Alma Felicia Atilano-Bautista, 41, is a board-certified dermatologist. Being a wife to Dr. Jesus Jacinto M. Bautista, and mom to Jada, 14; Mandy, 9; Bella, 7; and Ali, 5; she has a slightly more complicated schedule to stick to.

“I wake up at 5:00 a.m. to wake them up several times before they eventually do at 5:30 a.m. We leave at 6:00 a.m. and I go back home to take a short nap before I prepare at 10:00 a.m. for my youngest, who has to leave for school an hour after. At the same time, I wait for the second child and feed her before I bring her to football practice. I pick up the youngest, then tag her along to work. I end my clinic between 6 and 7:00 p.m., then pick up the three other girls who have gymnastics, dance practice and football training. Then, we get home and have dinner together with their dad. Then, everyone takes a shower and starts doing homework. Between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., I check their stuff for the next day, and pack away all the kalat and do some cleaning (I already have helpers who can clean but cleaning is my therapy so I just do it because it makes me feel good when I do it my way).”

Use planners, calendars, alarm

Calendars, planners, and alarm clocks have been in existence long before and are proven effective tools in keeping schedules. Whether you use the more modern planner applications on your gadgets or old-school paper and pen versions, the key is to make sure you religiously update all schedules in it and keep it visible for everyone to see.

“I use planners. I love calendars,” exclaims Dr. Tinabelle Serrano-Flavier, 41, who is an obstetrician-gynecologists-sonologist, and mom to Luis, 10 and Jacob, 6. “The kids’ school schedule is also posted on the ref, so the helpers are aware, too.”

Dr. Tinabelle with husband Lito, and sons Luis, 10 and Jacob, 6

Dr. Tinabelle has the kids’ schedule posted on the refrigerator for everyone to see

Alma uses her phone alarm system to keep track of time. “I have my phone alarm system which reminds me to pick the kids up, because in between seeing patients, when engrossed with their diseases, I tend to forget the time.”

Use whiteboards, cork boards, bond papers

Tinabelle finds good use for bond paper. Bond paper is tacked on her refrigerator, with her kids’ daily breakfast choices.

Alma Bautista with daughters Jada, 14; Bella, 7; Ali, 5; Mandy. 9; and husband Jet.

Having a whiteboard helps Alma keep track of everyone’s schedules.

Alma uses the traditional whiteboard, and corkboard too. “I have a cork board that holds all the ‘notes’ that says what needs to be bought and needs to be prepared. Example, child one needs to bring recycled materials for school, or child two needs to bring props for a school activity.” She uses a whiteboard to note down dismissal times of each child. “Everyday, I write on the whiteboard to guide me, and the one yaya who assists me in case one child has to be fetched a lot earlier than the other or when I have to be in a meeting or work earlier.

Label and mark

All parents are aware that children’s school materials need to be labelled with their children’s names and sometimes, even class sections. But if your child has a lot of books and notebooks, or if you have more than one child, this simple task of labelling seems really daunting. Thankfully, there are a lot of other tools to help make this easier and faster.

There are sticker papers you can print everything on home printers. There are label makers you can purchase from stores, and you can even design your own labels. There are also self-inking stamps. “Trodats are a big help. I use it the entire year so I don’t need to write down the kids’ names and their sections all the time on school materials.”

It is also very important to make sure you know where things are. Schools send letters home for parents to reply to and it would be wise to make use of envelopes and folders for that. Accordion envelopes are one useful thing that Tinabelle uses. “My son’s school requires that all students to have one. One compartment is assigned to one subject, they place all paper works in the specific subject labelled accordingly and this helps a lot.”

Alma uses an accordion for her personal use too. “I have an accordion folder that has each child’s name on it, so that I put all the memos sent home from school, which also needs replying (reply slips) and those that need payments. Because when they are not labeled, they can be sent to the wrong child, which happens sometimes.”

Yes, the start of school triggers some stress buttons because moms know how much work it is to keep everything together. But like these moms, it is all about finding the right balance, and using the right tools to help make things more manageable. Whether you choose the old-fashioned tools or the more modern ones, it doesn’t really matter much, as long as it gives you the calm you need amidst the storm.

Angel studied Political Economy but found more satisfaction working in the fashion and advertising industries. A professional fashion stylist since year 2000, under her own brand Style Angel (IG: @style_angelph), she took time off from work for a few years to be a stay-at-home-mom to her son Rocco. She is now the Business Development Manager for .Coach and the Style Coach of La Magie, The Makeover Specialists (IG: @lamagieph).

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