This weekend we were visiting friends and got a tour of their brand new home.  I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw their mud room… Angels were singing, stars were sparkling, the earth was shaking (o.k. maybe not)… What I did see was a well used space that has room to grow and can accommodate pets as well as children.

When I got home, I realized it was time to get the Launch Pad ready for the start of school.  I sent a bunch of hoodies to their permanent home in my son’s room; a few pairs of shoes that needed to find their way back into my daughter’s closet; and few baseball caps made their way into the Goodwill bag.

The key to a good ‘launch pad’ (because that is where you launch your day) is having a place for everything and getting everything back in its place.  I know that seems basic, Organizing 101 – if you will but it is amazing to me how many of my clients don’t work with that fundamental principle.

Top Ten things to have in a Launch pad:

1. Hooks to hang coats, backpacks and dog leashes.  Don’t just get one hook because you’ll need more then that.  I usually say if you can have three per person, you are doing well.

Make sure that the hooks are sturdy and can hold up to weight.  The older the kids get, the heavier the backpacks become.  Plan for the future and make sure that those hooks are sturdy.

You can have hooks high above to get items off the floor.  Don’t be afraid to have too many hooks.  During the fall and spring, you will have a variety of coats depending on how cold or hot the days are.

2. Have a bench or sitting area.  Having a bench that can double as a storage bench is ideal.  Your kids (and you too) will have an easier time putting boots on when sitting on a bench.  Sitting on a dirty (and wet floor) in the winter helps NO ONE.

3. Use easy to handle storage bins.  That means baskets they can pull out or drawers that they can easily open.  Don’t make it hard for kids to do the right thing.  Don’t place the baskets too high for them to reach or the drawers to heavy for them to open.

4. Use vertical space savers.  I am a big fan of these IKEA bins that attach to the wall and pull out.  They are vertical drawers and they hold a lot of items.

In the winter it is all the mitts, gloves, scarves, hats and toques.  In the summer it is baseball caps, sun hats, flip flops (because there are usually of a lot of those if you have teenage girls).  You can set small items on top: sunglasses, keys, sunscreen, lip balms, compact shopping bags.

5. Have an area where you can hang wet clothes: mitts or gloves and hats.  It is easier to hang them in the same place where the kids and spouse will need to find them the next day.  We have these hanging rods that fold down when not in use. They are solid brass and they are so sturdy.

6. Use cupboard space in your laundry room to hold last minute items you might need.  Kleenex packets in the winter, sun screen in the summer, hand sanitizer all year around.

This is also a good place to store bathing suits for swim lessons, towels and goggles.  Since the swim bags are hung up on the hooks above the clothes hooks, it is easy for my son to put together his swim kit on Saturday mornings.

7. Always have a hook for your keys.  If you have ‘key-latch’ kids to worry about, make sure that there is a place to put the house keys every single time.

I promise you this one small tip will save you hours of painfully looking for lost keys.  Our car keys also hang on these hooks.  So as soon as you walk through the door from the garage, you hang them up.

8. Only keep one row of shoes.  That may mean at the most two pairs per person.  In my house that would be ten pairs of shoes or boots.  That seems like a lot to me.. so my husband and I put our shoes away in the front hallway closet when we get home.  That gives the kids more room.  We do, however, send shoes back to their ‘home’ upstairs in the kids bedrooms.  At least once a week, we make sure to clear them away.  We don’t have a large entryway so we need to make sure that there is room to safely enter the house.

9. We have a small container that hangs on the door as we leave.  It’s a great place to put something that needs to be taken to the office (mail, folders) or permission sheets for school, it also holds a lint roller for last minute swiping and I also write notes to my hubby or the kids.  You see it as you open the door so it is easy to remember.

10. Make sure to keep your launch pad organized and relatively neat.  It can be your best friend in the morning when all heck is breaking loose. It will be where the mittens are, where the boots are, where the knapsacks are waiting for your kids to start their day.

It will be where you find your car keys and if you are lucky enough, where you plug in your phone to be charged.  Make sure that you set up your launch pad for success.

Margarita Ibbott is a Blogger, Professional Organizer, Speaker, Social Media trainer, wife and greatest advocate to her three children.  She brings order to people, places and things & then blogs about it.  She has a son that was diagnosis with PDDNOS when he was 9 and understands the challenges of have a child on the ASD spectrum.

You can find her musing on her blog DownshiftingPRO – Your Family, Your Home, Your Life. You can also find her most Wed. nights at 8 pm ET on Twitter co-hosting #LinkedMoms Chat (a resource for bloggers and brands).  Connect with her on:TwitterFacebookInstagram, Pinterest,  LinkedIn & Blogging