The start of the back-to-school season is always a bit chaotic for families. Aside from shopping for new shoes and new clothes, finding all the right notebooks, backpacks, lunch boxes, and other supplies, you – and your kids – have to rapidly adjust to a whole new schedule.
Well, before the summer is finally gone and school begins in earnest, you may want to take steps to streamline your home. A little organization and a bit of decluttering can get the new school year off to a good start. (This is particularly true if your housekeeping has suffered a little bit due to all of the hustle and bustle of summer vacation.)
Decluttering Makes Back-to-School Organization a Lot Easier
Too much clutter can make getting ready in the morning harder and keeping track of critical items like band equipment and gym shoes next to impossible – but that’s not the worst thing that clutter can do.
Clutter has been shown to have massive negative psychological effects on people. Not only can excess clutter raise the level of cortisol (the human stress hormone) in your system, it can lead to heightened anxiety, increased emotional reactions, a pronounced sense of stress and an inability to focus.
None of that is good for either parents or kids, especially during the school year. Where should you start your clean-up project? Here are some suggestions:
1. Purge All the Old Clothes
The odds are high that your kids have gone through a growth spurt over the summer, so why let all those ill-fitting old clothes stick around in their closets? Go through each child’s closet and yank out anything that no longer fits or is out of style and toss them on the donation pile.
When you’re done, it’s time to tackle hall closets, as well. Pull out the worn-out shoes, old boots, fall jackets and winter coats and toss anything that doesn’t fit, anything that’s worn out or just no longer is wanted.
Once you’re on a roll, why stop there? Chances are good that your own closet could use an overhaul. By ridding yourself of all the clothing that hasn’t seen the light of day in a year or longer, you’ll have a much neater, orderly space and clothes that don’t get wrinkled or crushed when they’re hanging.
2. Streamline the Kitchen and Dining Room
Kitchens are the heart of many homes, and you may even use your kitchen nook or dining room as homework stations for the kids. The more orderly the space, the easier it will be to navigate those rushed mornings when you have to feed everybody breakfast and get lunches packed into bags. A serene, organized space will also make it easier for your kids to stay focused on their work.
Dig through that pantry and discard any unwanted or expired items. Get downright ruthless when you attack your cupboards and eliminate extra coffee mugs, dinnerware that’s too old-fashioned and pots and pans that have seen better days. Eliminate anything that’s not supposed to be in those spaces, and anything that you really never use.
3. Clear Away Clutter From the Kids’ Rooms
Clear the kids’ rooms of last year’s school papers and art. Gather up the books that your kids have outgrown and add those to the donation pile, too. Old bookbags, last year’s science projects and other stuff leftover from the previous school year can all go.
While you’re at it, take a good look at the toy situation in each room. With the holiday season coming closer and closer, it’s a great time to discard broken toys, board games that have lost pieces, coloring books that are almost used up and anything that no longer captures your child’s interest.
When you’re done with all the shifting and sorting, you can just call a junk removal service to haul away what you don’t want to donate – which makes the whole process so much easier.
Organization Is Key to Smooth Transitions Between School and Home
During the school year, your kids have to transition twice a day: Once from home to school and then back again. None of that is easy when you’re not prepared – and the best way to prepare is to anticipate your organizational needs. Here are a few practical tips:
1. Bins, Baskets and Boxes Are Your Friends
You need plenty of bins, baskets and boxes to make organization work when you have a houseful of kids. With the right storage container, you can keep all kinds of things neat and tidy, including:
- Craft supplies and school supplies, both of which should be kept where your kids can access them easily when they’re doing their homework.
- Bathroom supplies, which can get increasingly complicated as your children get older. Each child needs their own basket for shampoo, conditioner, lotion, brushes, combs and other personal items.
- Pantry items, especially if your kids pack their lunch or get snacks when they come home before dinner. You want to make it easy for you (or them) to grab what they need in a hurry – and that will also make it easy to spot what’s needed at the store.
- Laundry items, since it’s easy to lose track of who needs what article of clothing clean on any given morning. If each child has their own basket, it’ll be easier to find socks, uniform shirts and other necessities.
2. A Professional Organizer Could Provide New Solutions
What if your bins, boxes, baskets and very best attempt at organization isn’t working out? If you still feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that seems to always be around and disorder reigns, it may be time to call out the big guns: a professional organizer.
A professional organizer can help you objectively decide what to keep, what to donate and what to throw out – and they can help you set up a working system in whatever part of your home seems the most prone to chaos.
Professional organizers can also help you clean out problem areas that just seem too hard to tackle on your own. For example, if you want to convert part of your garage into storage space for winter hats and boots so muck doesn’t get tracked through your home, you can hire a pro to sort, reduce and organize everything that’s in your way.
School buses have already started rolling in some areas, and we’re just weeks away from fall – so whatever your back-to-school dreams and goals, it’s time to get started!