It’s fall, and if you have kiddos, you know what that means: library books, gym shoes, and permission slips, oh my! When every day is a race against time to get out the door, families need to make sure that “mission control” is working as well as it should be. And by that, we mean your entryway. Here are 5 hacks to get your entryway organized once and for all.

1. Store it right

A trip to the organizing store can be dangerous … SO MANY COOL BASKETS. And the truth is that buying organizing supplies and actually organizing are 2 different activities. But having the right containers is the key to an organized entry. Think hooks hung at a height your kid can actually use. A clear plastic shoe bag for corralling hair ties, sunscreen, and other miscellaneous items. Baskets for socks. And folder-sized baskets that can hold outgoing school papers and mail. Shoes can go in cubbies or a boot tray. Or, if you just know your kid will never put their shoes where they belong, get a sturdy basket they can toss them in.

2. Keep everyone’s stuff separate

If your kids have similarly sized feet or hands — or taste  it can be challenging to know whose boots, mittens, or socks are whose. Assign everyone a basket that’s “theirs” and a corresponding hook for sweaters or beach towels. Everyone will know exactly whose spot (and stuff) belongs to which kid. No more car fights over who’s wearing the wrong hoodie.

3. Add a bench

If you’re putting on shoes in the entryway, a bench can be a handy place to sit and get the job done. It’s also the perfect waiting spot for kids who’re already dressed. What it should NOT become is a dumping ground. Avoid stashing anything on the bench. Instead, tell the fam it’s for sitting, not storing. For maximum clutter-busting, choose an entryway bench that has a lift-up lid so you can store stuff inside it. Or one that has a shelf below where you can stow storage baskets.

4. Create a message center

Try a bulletin board, whiteboard, or chalkboard (whatever works) and use it to post updates on after-school activities. Or the carpool schedule. Or a list of items they need to take to school and more. Have kids get in the habit of looking there before asking you what’s going on. You can also add a place to hang everyone’s car keys so you’re never again forced into a “Where are my keys?!” panic.

5. Be ruthless about what belongs in the entryway

Without some parameters, that entryway can quickly become the dumping ground for everything from sports equipment to mail to out-of-season clothing that’s accumulated and never left. Talk to your family about what belongs in the entryway (shoes, mittens, backpacks … it’s your call!) and train the kids to move everything else to its proper place. You can even add a trash can and recycle bin for the inevitable backpack clean out.

DIY hacks | Home and garden

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.