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Between summer and fall is a secret season that’s often forgotten until it’s in full swing. While you don’t typically decorate for this particular season, it does require quite a bit of preparation both in your home and daily routine. If you’re not careful, it can come and go in the blink of an eye.
Yep, we’re talking about back to school season, and whether your child is enrolled in homeschool, private school or public school, it’s time to get your home ready for the new school year. Here are a few places to start.
Clean Out the Bedroom Closet
If it’s been a while since you’ve braved to look into your child’s closet, it might be time for you to go through their closet and assess their clothing situation for the new school year.
Kirsten Fisher, professional organizer and founder of Imagine Home Organization, recommends that your child try on all their clothes to check fit, condition and overall usage. As they try on clothes, create piles for purging, donating or hand-me-downs.
After your child has gone through their closet and sorted all their clothes, make a list of any additional clothes, shoes and accessories they’ll need for the new year. Depending on the dress code at your child’s school (uniform, casual or otherwise) you might need to shop at specific retailers in order to get the right clothes for school. Marty Basher, Home Organization Expert for Modular Closets, says to check out store websites ahead of time for deals and discounts.
If you’re looking to save money on back to school shopping, Basher also suggested organizing a neighborhood or school clothing swap before the school year starts. That way, you’re able to donate any gently-used clothing your child has outgrown and stock up on new clothes.
Lastly, Fisher recommended organizing your child’s closet by clothing type to make getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Consider purchasing a day-of-the-week clothing organizer that your child can use to set aside outfits for the school week.
Optimize Your Entryway
Your home’s entryway, also referred to as a mudroom, is typically a small room in your home used for storing footwear and outerwear of general last-minute needs before you leave your home, so make sure it’s optimized to set your day up for success.
“First impressions matter, and for your home, that means a clean entryway,” asserted Leanne Stapf, Vice President of Operations at The Cleaning Authority. “Make sure all shoes are either stored away or lined up neatly, and any clutter has been gathered in a utility bag and stored away to be sorted later.”
By adding hooks, cubbies or additional storage, you can create a designated place for each child’s personal belongings and school items. For function, as well as style, Stapf suggested adding a dresser to your entryway, with each drawer labeled by the person or use. That way, you or your child can have easy access to their items in the morning.
Don’t forget about you! When you’re running out the door, it’s easy to forget the little things, like car keys, house keys, handbags and other grab-and-go items. Create a small space for yourself that can hold any items you’ll need before walking out the door. A simple floating shelf or side table should do the trick!
Organize Your Kitchen Space
Since your kids will be away from home for upwards of eight hours a day, you’ll have to make a plan for lunches and school snacks. Whether that looks like buying lunches during the school week or packing a lunch every night, meal planning is essential for the new school year.
The benefits of paying for school lunches are time and convenience, but make sure budget-wise, that this is something your family can afford to pay for all school year long (typically September – June). On average, school lunches cost $2.50 per day ($450 per school year).
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly alternative, but you’re still worried about the time and convenience factor, first get your kitchen organized by making a designated fridge and pantry space for school lunch supplies.
“Make lunch preparation easier by preparing designated spaces in the fridge and pantry for lunch items,” suggested Fisher. “Save time in the mornings by preparing school lunches the night before school. Depending on the age of your child, you can have a do-it-together moment.”
Refrigerator and freezer organizer bins are great items that keep your groceries and school snacks organized and easy to grab, making lunchtime preparation fast and easy.
“The same goes for after-school snacks,” said Basher. “Portion them and place them in the pantry for kids to grab as an after-school treat. If your kids are doing it all themselves – making lunch and so on – get them started on the good habit of doing it in the evening. It makes mornings so much more pleasant for everyone!”
Designate a Homework Zone
Homework is one after-school routine that might take some adjustments during the first week back to school. Think about it: Your child has perhaps gone the whole summer with homework (unless their school assigned a summer book report or reading program).
That means getting back in the habit of doing homework every night, or even every other night, might take a week or so to get into a routine. However, one way you can make the transition easier for your student is by creating a designated place in your home for homework.
“Having a routine for doing homework helps with getting it done efficiently and with a minimum of distractions,” said Basher. “If you can create a space that is designated for homework, you can keep it stocked with whatever they’re going to need, and even keep an eye on things getting done.”
There are a few ways you can achieve this. If you have a home office or under-utilized room in your home, simply add a desk and chair (if there isn’t already one) and set up a homework station stocked with at-home school supplies like scrap paper, pens, pencils and any technology they might need, depending on their age and homework level.
Most importantly, whether you’re using your kitchen table or private home office, make sure there aren’t any opportunities for distraction.
“Now that it’s back to school time, any rules that you may have loosened during the summer (like morning screen time) should be addressed and reinforced,” said Fisher.
For example, make sure to turn off the TV and hide the remote until homework is complete. Fisher suggested discussing expectations for homework before the school year starts.
Create a Family Command Center
Your family’s command center is a hub of information, important documentation and schedules. It should be located in a frequently used area in your home, like your kitchen or entryway, and should include schedules for everyone in the home.
“Your command center should include a space for each child’s school papers, your bills, your reference materials and any other important documents that require your attention for action,” explained Fisher.
According to Fisher, it should also feature a family calendar, to keep your home life, work life and student’s life organized in one go-to area of the home. A calendar is a physical reminder of important dates, like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and can also include dates like school sports game, school recitals, parent-teacher conferences and so much more.
“The family calendar and any key planning tools for the week, like meal planners and sports schedules, should be located and organized in your command center,” she added.
Stapf suggested to take it a step further by having a digital calendar for the parents, or older child with smartphones, tablets or laptops. You can even set alarm clock reminders for important dates and commitments, so you and your student will never miss an event.
Lastly, the command center should be a designated area for all school-related items, saving time and stress for both parents and children looking for lost or misplaced items.
“Create a habit whereby all school-related items go to the zone directly after school,” suggested Fisher. “When homework is complete and lunches are made, review next day extracurricular activities and place items in the zone. This way, the kids always know where their stuff is, and it is ready to grab and go when needed.”
Getting your home organized before the school year begins to set you and your family up for success on the first day of school. If you or your child are still feeling anxious about the first day, don’t be afraid to do a dry-run of the first day of school to feel even more prepared.
“Practice getting moving quickly in the mornings with your kids by also returning to your school morning schedule about a week prior to school starting,” recommended Fisher. “By resetting routines and times a week in advance, the adjustment from school vacation to school week won’t feel as disruptive.”
Do you have any times for parents getting their homes back to school ready? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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