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  • Writer's pictureKevin Connors

Back to School Tips for Families

Today’s blog post is brought to you by guest contributor, Irene Lo. Irene is a home organizer in the Chicagoland area and owner of SimplyOrganized based out of Glenview, IL.

Can you believe it’s already August?! Time really flies and just like that it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for the busy school year ahead. 😭 Well, I guess that all depends – maybe you’re ready to get your house back and send those little ones off to school… In that case 🥳🎉!

Get your house ready for the busy months ahead by focusing on the following:

  1. Get your system in place to beat school clutter before it starts.

Admit it, there is a pile of last year’s school work and art projects in their backpacks from May. 😆 Most families already have memory boxes for the kids in place, however, they do need to be maintained. Take the time to set up systems for artwork, creative writing pieces, and notes to go into the memory boxes on a regular basis so the new procedure is second nature when school is in session. I like keeping a basket to put my kids’ creative work in throughout the year. I limit the pile by only keeping artwork, writing, and notes that truly come from them (no workbook pages, research papers, tests, etc.). Then in the summer, I look through it again and file away the best work that represents their growth in storage bins categorized by their grades.

2. Back-to-school shopping is in full swing! Before blindly purchasing everything on the HUGE school supply list, take a moment to shop your home before heading out for the store. There’s a strong likelihood that last year’s backpack, calculator, and protractor are just fine for this year. And there’s more than a chance you’ll find a forgotten (but brand new) box of pencils, pens, markers, or even crayons somewhere in the house.

Now that you know what you have, create an abbreviated school supply shopping list. This will help you stay on track and make sure you have everything your kids need for the new school year (and skip the purchases you don’t need to make). It’s also a great opportunity to have your kids help by donating all their gently used markers, crayons and other school supplies to other students in need. A pair of scissors or a pack of pencils may seem like a small gift, but for a student without them, it can mean having the opportunity to actively participate in the classroom. Click here for more information and how to get your kiddos involved.

3. Work with your kids to organize their bedrooms.

This activity will help to remind you what they already own in terms of clothes, shoes, and school supplies from last year, with the goal of cutting back on unnecessary purchases for the new school year. It will also give you the chance to purge unwanted items or donate what no longer fits. Be sure to keep your cool and make organizing their room a fun (not stressful) experience! No tantrums equire😉

4. Structure in the mudroom or entryway is key.

The mudroom is a tight space that tends to create a traffic jam when everyone is heading out for the day. Having a well organized mudroom or entryway is key to getting everyone out the door in a timely fashion. Create a separate bag for each child and for each after-school activity so everything they need to bring to each activity is ready to go. Preparing the bags throughout the week will save stressful times when you are trying to get them to their activities on time. Discover our pro tips on keeping the mudroom tidy and efficient in our article "Four Areas of your Home to Keep Organized".

5. Make sure the kitchen is set up for success.

It’s no surprise that the kitchen is the hardest working room in the house for many busy families. Be sure to implement an easy-to-access snack area to create independence for even the littlest members of the family. This area can also double as a lunch station, helping you quickly organize and pre-pack as much of the lunch bag as you can in advance. At minimum, packing lunch boxes the night before will save you time and stress in the already hectic morning. Meal prepping is also an excellent way to cut down on weekday stress. While meal prepping is common for lunch and dinner, think about healthy breakfasts you can prepare in advance to help kids be independent during weekday mornings. The Blog Taste of Home outlines 65 breakfast options for you to choose from here, giving kids the energy they need to start their day off right.

6. Structure in the mudroom or entryway is key.

Having a well or ganized mudroom or entryway is key to getting everyone out the door in a timely fashion. The most used entrance and exit of your home should have a designated place to store a few of each family member’s everyday shoes. If the coat closet is small, seasonal coats should be cycled in and out. Discover our pro tips on keeping the mudroom tidy and efficient in our article "Four Areas of your Home to Keep Organized".

7. Get your routines in place now.

It’s easy for routines and rules to slip a bit in the summertime, and that’s all part of a fun and happy childhood. If this has happened with your kiddos, it’s time to start easing back in now to allow for enough time to adjust!

  • Create a schedule and start sticking to it. This will help everyone stay on track and avoid last-minute scrambling.

  • Set a bedtime routine. This will help your kids get enough sleep so they're well-rested for school.

  • Set up a designated after school routine. This might include snack and free time for the first 30 minutes, homework time next, followed by dinner time, and so on. If your schedule allows, try to carve out time to help your kids with their homework. This will help them stay on track and succeed in school.

  • Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks. This will help everyone feel like they're contributing while reducing stress and conflict.

  • Have a designated spot for everything. This will help keep your home tidy and organized and enable the whole family to be independent in finding what they need.

  • When there is a definitive change in the weather, that's a good tip off that the whole family should spend a few minutes storing away the last season’s items (in just a few short weeks it’ll be time to cycle out beach items, flip flops, and gardening supplies to name a few items). This small 20-30 minute activity will go a long way in curbing the clutter in high traffic areas like mudrooms, entryways, and the garage.

  • Take breaks. It's important to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge.

Back to school season can be a busy and stressful time, but it doesn't have to be. By following these tips, you can make the transition a little smoother for everyone involved. And if you need help getting your home organized and ready to take on the back-to-school season, SimplyOrganized is always here to help!

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