It’s been a long time since I went back to school—don’t ask how long!—but I still remember that back to school excitement. Buying new school supplies, new outfits, and finally, my sister and I rushing out the door on that first morning. Back to school is always crazy—it’s unavoidable! I’ve put together a few tips on how you can make it a little easier for yourself and your family. Ultimately, if you aren’t pulling your hair out and you can avoid any last-minute scrambling, I’ve done my job.
Organization & Inventory
Start out with a clean slate, it’ll be so much easier to keep it that way. Papers will pile up, along with coats, backpacks, shoes and sweaty sports gear—but, if you have a designated place for everything you’ve just upped your organizational odds. Also, before you buy anything new, be sure to check to see what your kids already have before buying any new school supplies and/or clothes. In the spirit of decluttering you should get rid of anything broken, extremely worn out, too small (unless they’re good for hand-me-downs), or stained beyond repair.
Next, make a list of exactly what it is your kids need and do your best to stick to it. Schools will also sometimes provide a list of needed supplies for the year to come making your job a little easier. Having a defined list when you hit the store means you’ll more likely buy only what’s on it which helps you save money—bonus! Or, you can wait a week after school starts and get everything when it’s been marked down (#savvy).
Get a Calendar
If you haven’t already, hang a magnetic dry-erase calendar in your kitchen to keep track of everyone’s activities. Have a different colored marker for each member of the family so you know who’s up to what at a glance. When you schedule piano lessons, skating practice, or get notices about field trips os bake sales, add them to the calendar immediately. I also suggest getting a 12-month calendar to keep track of things happening in later months and transferring them to the dry-erase calendar.
The Homework Zone
Especially as they get older and get more homework, it’s so important for kids to have their own study area—and I’m not talking about at the dining room table (I say that to protect the sanity of parents too)! If there’s a place in their bedroom for a desk, cool. Otherwise, the family room, living room, or office (ideally a room without a television) also works. If the desk doesn’t have drawers or shelves already, consider an organizer to sit on top of it. And, if you have space, a bookcase is an excellent addition because it creates more storage with room to grow!
My love for pegboards knows no bounds, and that goes for over desks too. They’re awesome for creating extra storage space for small items like pens, paintbrushes, and pencils. You can even hang desk lamps from them! Go that extra mile by painting it your child’s favorite color.
Encourage your kids to take charge of keeping their homework areas neat and tidy. Enabling them with the right tools to organize artwork, projects, and report cards will cut down on clutter around the house. This also makes schoolwork quicker to find and at the end of the school year, it can be sorted through to easily pick out what gets kept and what gets recycled.
It’s kind of crazy how easily the front hall closet becomes a dumping ground for… well, everything. Here’s how I clean and organize ours. Voila—room for jackets and backpacks! Or if you have a large hallway or mudroom you can even install cubbies, with hooks for jackets and backpacks, a place for shoes, musical instruments, and sports gear. If kids have a specific spot to put everything, odds are they’ll use it more often and you won’t be tripping over their stuff anymore.
A Few More Tips
I love hanging clothes organizers. Use them to lay out your child’s outfits for the week, one outfit per shelf.
Do lunch prep a week in advance. Prepare things that will keep for a while (veggies, fruits, cheese, crackers, etc.) in individual containers or baggies so all you have to do the night before, or the morning of, is make sandwiches.
What is your back to school cleaning routine? Let me know in the comments below!