The Benefits Of A “Staging Area”

Back to school time is upon us again and I’ve been thinking about how hectic life becomes every fall. Not like it isn’t always hectic, but this time of year seems to double-down on the crazy. If your household is as busy as is common these days I have a helpful approach to alleviate the morning madness that sets in as everyone is trying to get out the door on time and with all the accompanying gear and supplies needed for their day.

I call it the Staging Area.

At the end of the day you can usually find backpacks, coats, science projects, art supplies, whatever was being used that day spread out from one end of the house to the other. Perfectly normal as you and your family go about your business doing homework and other activities. This sprawl can be the touchpoint that ignites chaos the next morning. While it would be lovely to have all family members habitually collect their things for the next day, that is merely a pipe dream. In the hopes of cutting down on the stress and ultimate yelling, whining, and cajoling as the clock ticks down to blast off for your day, I suggest you create a staging area.

What is this staging area?

It is a designated spot in your house where everything that must go out the door each morning is put. As each family member gets up and goes about their morning routine they are responsible for dropping off their backpack, lunch, books, projects, coats, coffee, keys, cell phone, etc. in this one specific part of the house. A corner of the kitchen works. Depending on the floor plan of your house, the dining room table might work. A kitchen counter that’s free. If you have a mud room or laundry room you can use, fine.

On a typical morning as your family moves about the house they start to drop off everything that must go out the door with them. Right before you walk out the door everyone does a mental check off of what they’ve left in the staging area. It should all be there waiting for you. For the little ones who might forget, it’s great for mom and dad. For the older kids it makes them take responsibility for their possessions. Helps mom and dad get ready too!

We’ve utilized this staging area in my family. It made a huge difference. Stopped the running all over the house routine trying to find this or that – after you were in the car. It helped to make it immediately apparent that something was missing such as sneakers for PE, a book for school, file folders, lunch, snacks, sweaters, regular shoes when boots were worn, that precious morning coffee mug, keys, cell phones, signed forms, you name it. If it was supposed to go out the door it was waiting for you. And if it wasn’t there, at least you were still in the house before you noticed something was missing.¬†There’s no rule written in stone that prohibits getting the ball rolling the night before. Things would start to show up as soon as dinner was done or homework was completed. Once the idea of a staging area becomes a habit you’ll see items start to show up routinely – at any time the night before and into the next morning.

Let’s face it, for the most part we carry the same stuff each day. It’s when we are hurried and stressed that we forget things.

By Gret Boyd


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