How To Keep Your Home Tidy And Organized During Back to School Season

10 Tips for Easing Into the New School Year

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Back to school season is a double-edged sword, promising to both make parents' lives easier (hooray for the return of regularly scheduled childcare!) while simultaneously cramming the calendar with curriculum nights, the beginning of fall sports practices and fulfillment of dreaded school supply lists. Here are 10 tips for getting your home ready for the school year:

1. Organize kids' clothing drawers. Every spring, parents dutifully put away their children's pants and long-sleeved outfits to save them for the fall. Then fall comes, and when mom pulls these items out of storage, they are laughably too short and too tight.

As the weather changes, autumn is a great time to sort items from last school year into three piles: a) store for a younger child, b) donate and c) still fits. Evaluate what you're missing and then fill in any gaps. Empower your child to dress themselves by starting the school year with drawers that have things they know will fit.

2. Declutter your coat closet. Before school starts again, consider donating any coats and boots your family has outgrown to make room for new items and help families in need. Make sure that all gloves and mittens are matched sets so you don’t start the season searching for a glove that is long gone. Separate your individual children’s cold-weather accessories into bins so each child can easily find his or her gear.

3. Empower your children to collect what they need for school. Anyone who has done school drop-off can tell you that the most stressful juncture is when a parent is herding everyone into the car and making sure that the kids are supplied with lunches, coats, backpacks and gym shoes—the list goes on.

Consider making your child responsible for ensuring she has the things she needs. A whiteboard conveniently positioned by the front door with a list of what she needs for each day of the week can be a big, helpful reminder.

Will your child occasionally still forget her backpack? Absolutely! But consider teaching an important lesson in responsibility while the stakes are low.

4. Plan for a homework space. Decide where and when your children should do their homework every day. Choose a place that is free from clutter (aka distraction), is well lit and reasonably quiet. This can be a desk in their room, the kitchen table while you get dinner ready, or a separate homework space. When you do your back-to-school shopping, make sure that your homework space is also well supplied with the basics—tape, scissors, crayons, pens, pencils, etc.

5. Make a plan for sports equipment. As a new sports season descends, find a place to put away equipment from summer activities and an accessible way to organize current equipment. A basic storage rack in the garage can work wonders while adding shelving to a coat closet can work in a smaller space.

6. Elevate your book collection. Start by donating books that your family is no longer enjoying—any libraries have a Friends of the Library Society that will take books, for example. Keep your child's favorites, but getting rid of books that he has outgrown can keep him reading at the appropriate level. Make a plan for adding new books to the mix by visiting your library regularly or considering a subscription book service, like OwlCrate, that can send you unknown gems.

7. Organize your kitchen for school lunches. Start by throwing away expired food (lest you are tricked into thinking you are stocked with Goldfish, only to find them inedibly stale). Organize your pantry and fridge in a way that makes sense for your lifestyle, then create a long-term plan for grocery planning that incorporates school lunch needs.

For example, Cozi, a family organizing app, allows everyone in the family to add to a shared grocery list. Plan lunches for the week so you can knock out your grocery shopping in one trip. Also, it’s wise to have pantry staples ion hand that can be used to whip up quick meals.

8. Figure out a plan for art storage. For those of you with prolific artists at home, decide what and where to display the masterpieces and how to, ahem, dispose of the remainder. There are a number of apps, like Artkive, that can help you photograph artwork and make periodic photobooks with your favorites—which can also help alleviate any guilt over not keeping the originals.

9. Find a permanent home for school gear. Finding your child's backpack, shoes, coats and assorted other gear right before school will be stressful if they don't have a permanent home within your space. Consider installing a hook where your child is expected to hang her backpack as soon as she gets home. Ask older kids to bring their lunch boxes to the kitchen for emptying so that they are ready to be refilled the next day. As long as there is routine about where things go, mornings will be smoother.

10. Take a deep breath—after the storm of new school meetings will be the calm of routine. You're ready, and now, so is your home!