I snuck out of work a couple hours early last Monday. It was just a beautiful day and let’s be honest; The writing is on the walls. The mornings are getting cooler and the apples on the trees in our yard are starting to leave their fall droppings for me to hit with the lawn mower. (At least it smells nice!). On my bike ride, I noticed that there were a higher percentage of busses running around through town. That could only mean one thing: The roads are going to be even quieter between 8am and 2pm. And the kids are back in school.

When we were in school, especially during the first half of the year, it was a bit of a crazy time. Soccer, concert band, marching band, jazz band (Yes, I was a band geek!), part-time jobs, friends, skateboarding and generally being a persnickety teenager all seemed to fill my schedule to the max. Mom always said that it was also when I got my best grades, seemingly because I was too busy to procrastinate. Considering the workloads that kids seem to have today, I honestly don’t know how we got it all done.

With all that hustle and bustle it was nice to know that I had a desk in my room and a little oasis to which I could retire and get some work done. It was challenging maintaining that solid B- average! Depending on your home size and layout, finding a suitable spot for your kid(s) to “work” can be a challenge. Of course we spent loads of time at the kitchen counter, but that is inevitably fraught with distractions. Let’s look at a few places you can “stow” your kids so they can have some peace away from the normal din of home life.

For the majority of us, having our own bedroom (or at least a shared bedroom) is pretty common. This is the first (and most obvious) place to look for a “study zone”. Having space for a desk is a great luxury and can certainly be shared by siblings if space is limited. Another cool idea I stumbled across is replacing a nightstand with a small desk. It can certainly serve both purposes. It can hold the lamp, phone, alarm clock (does anyone still use these?) as well as a backpack and some books. Looking back at our apartment when we were in middle school, a desk between my brother’s bed and mine would have fit perfectly.

My next favorite desk idea is the foldaway. Much like a Murphy bed, these desks fold up flat against the wall when not in use. The most common spot you see these is in the kitchen, but we’re trying to keep away from all the household traffic so that’s not ideal. Regardless, these desks can be put up just about anywhere. Imagine a small room with a foldaway desk and folding chair. Certainly not what I would want to work at as a full time worker or college student, but a suitable and chic solution for K-12. As you can imagine, IKEA has a boatload of small-space ideas for workspaces.

While we’re working on making the most of smaller spaces, don’t rule out an unused closet in the home. It has to be said that if every nook and cranny of your home is full of stuff, it’s way beyond time to get rid of lots and lots of it! That said, check out that hall closet or even the closet in the spare/guest bedroom. “Making use of a closet for work space is one of my favorite solutions for smaller homes,” notes Badger Realty agent, Norman Head. “It provides a quiet space for work to get done and the desk can sometimes even allow the doors to close so it is fully hidden when not in use,” he continued.

Last but not least is the kitchen or dining room table. As we’ve mentioned, this spot is not ideal for providing peace and quiet for your kids, but the reality is; you need to work with what you have. I recommend, especially for younger kids, having a bin or two that can be easily stored in the pantry or hall closet that holds all of the supplies for the desk area. This makes the transition from “table” to “desk” almost immediate and certainly helps with cleanup time. It also minimizes the time spent looking for a pencil, pen, notepad or any other number of things I was great at losing when it came time to do actual work!

 Back to school time is exciting. Even at however many years I am removed from school (shh!) I still get an underlying sense of excitement with the arrival of the school year. Part of that is living in small towns. We tend to be keenly aware of when the kids start going back to school (the neighborhood is more quiet except for the busses in the morning!). But it also bring with it the start of double-sessions of soccer practice, traveling to all the football games with the band and reuniting with your “school friends” that you didn’t see much of over the summer. If you need to provide a better study space for your kids, perhaps some of these ideas got your own creative juices flowing and you’ll come up with an even better solution. I’ll see you at IKEA!

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