Homeschooling is Back, But the Mess Doesn’t Have to Be | Tamar Harow

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(Co-written with Nechama Weiser, Health and Life Coach)

If we’ve learned anything from the first two lockdowns, it is that our space needs to function in many ways simultaneously. Whether it’s your teen or fifth grader home with you distant learning, the right set up is an important element to not only their academic success but also maintaining your sanity.

Our homes have become the central command zone for so many activities – work, school, gym and so much more. With so many things happening simultaneously, it is no wonder that our homes seem to be producing more and more clutter these days. If the amount of “stuff” seems to be multiplying daily, know that you are not alone. The mess not only adds to the daily burden of maintaining tidy spaces, it also weighs on us emotionally. 

The third lockdown brings up feelings of stress and low morale in tackling school and work, for both parents and children alike. There are achievable tips to help cope and manage through this time. Visual stress and clutter has a profound effect on how we feel. Research shows that when people clean up their homes and workspaces, they are able to focus better and increase their productivity.  

As an Interior Designer and Health and Life Coach, we strongly encourage our clients to understand the importance of clearing excess clutter, as it clutters the mind. The solution is not another shelf or storage unit, rather it’s editing and keeping only what you REALLY need. Instituting systems to streamline the process of maintaining clear surfaces and an organized home is a crucial step in creating order. 

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In our experience, there are a number of tried and true tips that help structure distant learning mess to keep your space as organized and calm as possible:

  • Explain to your family members that while they are using this space for their studies, it is a public space and they need to treat it as such! Incorporate clean up as part of their daily ritual.
  • Consider lifting your child’s spirits with something new that they can enjoy throughout their day at home. It can be a new mug, cup to hold pencils and supplies or even something pretty to keep on the table like flowers or a plant. You’d be surprised what a new notebook or set of pens can do to boost motivation. This concept can be customized in many ways to suit your child’s interests and personality. These can easily be purchased through a number of online retailers for free or minimal shipping.
  • Designate a side of the table for each family member, where they have their school materials for the day – books, pencil cases, etc. Consider designating or purchasing a pretty placemat or tray to centralize school materials, water bottles, pencil cases, etc. for each family member. This not only creates a visual reminder to keep things organized, but also creates an aesthetically pleasing workspace. 

Additionally, having a system for storing school supplies will help reduce the need to search chaotically to prepare for the impending class. This will also save time and aggravation to allow for a smoother transition between lessons. 

  • Create an easy way to clean up at the end of the day by putting books in their backpacks, or allocate a bin or magazine rack for each child to store their stuff in so it is consolidated. 
  • Eliminate all non school/work related objects from the table. 
  • Be mindful of the work surface. Expensive tablecloths are not ideal if you have a child using markers or glue. 
  • If the abundance of “stuff” on the table is overwhelming you, consider storing it on the chairs and pushing them under the table. This way the equipment  is at hand, but out of sight when not in use. 

 As a general rule, we recommend these tips as good practice to incorporate, even if you don’t have any distance learners at home with you: 

  • Uncover your table during the week and place a runner and a vase with flowers on the table. 
  • Designate this space as a “no dumping zone”. If you have a beautiful or unique table top, like mahogany or glass, consider keeping it uncovered during the week to appreciate it’s beauty. ”Train” members of the household not to place ANYTHING on the table, keeping it clear all week long. 
  • It helps to ascertain WHAT is being dumped on the dining room table and then allocate a space for those items – if you notice that you are dumping the mail on the table, then consider designating a mail folder in another area of the house for that purpose. 

By implementing these tips and ideas for keeping your home and workspace tidier and more efficient we hope that not only you, but also your family members will benefit from a calmer and more organized space. Through the benefits of a neater environment we hope you are able to achieve a sharper focus, higher productivity, lower stress levels, and increased creativity.

We hope that you can implement a few of these tips in your own home. Be sure to comment below and  let us know what worked for you! 

Nechama Weiser is a Health and Life Coach, based in Efrat, Israel. She has over a decade of experience working with Olim in various capacities. She has a great deal of experience working specifically with students and young adults in preparing for their Aliyah and paving their own path in Israel. Nechama specializes in working with young women and helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle and a more fulfilling life, while prioritizing their own needs. Nechama has a BA in English Literature and an MA in Administration of Non-Profits. She lives in Efrat, with her husband and five children. Nechama can be reached at Facebook, Instagram, and [email protected]  

Tamar Harow is the lead Interior Designer at Elevate Designs by Tamar, an Interior Design firm specializing in commercial and home design, based in Modiin Maccabim Reut. Her background in Communications and Marketing give her a unique approach to Interior Design.

Tamar made Aliyah with her family as a teenager over 20 years ago, from Miami, Florida. She attributes her successful Aliyah to immersing herself into Israeli society from the day one. Tamar’s second year of National Service was a Bat Sherut in Boca Raton, Florida where she taught Israel studies and shared her love for Israel. She received her BA from Bar Ilan University, in Political Science and Communications. After working in the field for a number of years, she returned to her lifelong passion and got certified as an Interior Designer. Her experience navigating through the Israeli systems since she was a teen Olah Chadasha, inspires her to always to help other Olim. Today Tamar resides in Modiin Macccabim Reut, with her husband and 4 children.

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