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Back to School Week 3: Creating a Drop Zone for After School

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

This week's back-to-school project is to establish a drop zone! If you missed our first two back-to-school reset tasks, check out our post from week 1 all about organizing your children's clothes HERE, and our post about establishing routines around food HERE. Plus, I put together a great back-to-school checklist where you can follow my exact plan for getting organized before the craziness of school starts. Get that HERE.

Why Have a Drop Zone?

So, what is a drop zone? A drop zone is a place where backpacks, shoes, coats (when it gets cooler), and bags for extracurricular activities should go. There are many benefits to creating a drop zone that is close to the main living areas of your home instead of the kids’ individual rooms. Having a place where all backpacks, shoes, and important school papers go will help the whole family feel more organized.

Backpacks are easier to retrieve for homework. Shoes are more likely to not be worn in the home or get lost if they are taken off and put immediately away. If something is forgotten, it is much easier to grab a coat, mask, or shoes from a drop zone than running to the bedroom to grab them. Less clutter in bedrooms helps them stay that much tidier.

Where to Create a Drop Zone

Some homes have lockers and a mud room, but not all. If your home does not have a built-in drop zone, here are some ideas for creating one of your own.

  • A coat closet can easily be converted into a drop zone. Adding storage at the bottom (I like these baskets) and adding hooks around the wall can create a place to easily hang bags and coats. You can see my coat closet transformation HERE.

  • Create a drop zone in your entryway. Adding hooks along the wall and then using a bench for functional storage can also look cute and inviting.

  • Use your garage. You can build lockers, or create a simple drop zone in your garage if you are limited on space and want to keep items out of the house. Hooks, cube storage, and even basic wire shelving can create a landing spot for shoes and give each family member a place to put their things.

What Goes In a Drop Zone

Once you have established your drop zone, prepare all the things that will go there and make sure they are ready for the first day of school!

  • Sort through kid shoes (donate shoes that are too small or on their last leg). Write a list of shoes that are needed for the upcoming school year and make sure you know which shoe size your kids currently fit in.

  • If anyone needs a backpack, lunch bag, or water bottle, add it to the shopping list or order online. Make sure backpacks, lunch bags, and water bottles are neatly labeled. My favorite way to label kids' items is with this label maker!

  • Make sure your kids' supplies for after-school activities are put together (anything missing gets ordered or put on the list)

  • Prep teacher gift. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

    • Apple-themed gift: apple-scented lotion or candle, a few fresh apples, apple hi-chews/laffy taffys/chewy candy O’s, sparkling apple juice, etc.

    • Trader Joes favorites

  • If your school requires bringing school supplies and you’ve already purchased them, get them in your kids’ backpacks. If you haven’t shopped for them yet, see what you can get online for easy shopping. Anything that can’t be ordered online… add it to the list! Getting as much either checked completely off your list for the first day of school helps so much.

At the end of this project, you should have a drop zone that is mostly ready to go. Walk your family through what has been accomplished. Explain to them the system. Establish with them where their backpack and shoes go when they get home from school. Teach them what to do with their lunch bag and water bottle. Review anything else you are hoping to implement with after-school systems.

Once you receive all the items that were ordered online and go shopping, you can wrap up any loose ends to make your drop zone 100% ready for the new school year!

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Jen is the founder of Reset Your Nest, a Professional Home Organizing business in Utah (Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Logan, Utah County, and St. George), California (Bay Area, Los Gatos, Hillsborough, Atherton, San Jose), Denver, CO, and Phoenix, AZ. She loves creating order and systems out of chaos. Her specialty is finding a way to continue the aesthetic of any home to every cupboard and drawer. She shares her tips and tricks on Instagram @reset_your_nest.

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