Back to School Organizing Tips to Start Your Year Off Right
The transition from summer to fall (and the beginning of another school year) can be jarring for more than just your kids. Between shopping for the upcoming school year and getting the entire household geared up to get back into a daily routine, keeping your home organized may be the last thing on your mind. Ahead of the first day of school, taking the time to complete afternoon projects in the entryway, kitchen, and kids' living spaces can help them adjust to the year ahead.
Any parent strives to create a home environment where kids can focus on schoolwork all year long—which is why creating a desk space well in advance of the first day of school should be on your checklist. In addition to basics like a desktop, chair, lamp, and bookcase, try incorporating additions like bulletin boards and storage containers, as these can store supplies and keep them organized all year long.
But it's not all about the kids—as you fall back onto a normal schedule yourself, it's important to get all of your living spaces in check, too. Keep mornings streamlined by revamping your closets in the bedroom, and having breakfasts and snacks ready to go at a moment's notice. Stay on top of your to-do lists with streamlined office spaces and by cleaning the right areas when you need to. The following organization tips will help you jumpstart a smooth daily routine with your children—and get you back into the swing of things as summer comes to an end.
Clean Up the Entryway
Even if you don't have space for a formal mudroom, utilizing plain wall space to hang bags, coats, umbrellas, and other everyday essentials in an accessible fashion can keep the rest of your living spaces free of clutter. When you're in a rush to get out the door in the morning, you'll be glad you spent some time giving everything a designated place.
Tackle Your To-Dos
For anyone who feels like they're constantly rushing out the house, this to-do list, hung by the door, will restore some sanity. String a strip of leather through a roll of drawing paper, duct tape the ends together, and hang it from a hook. To anchor the paper, drill an aluminum angle an inch wider than the paper into the wall. (Tip: the nice folks at the hardware store can cut the metal and make the holes on either end.)
Personalize Their Backpacks
Update Their Wardrobe
If you can't repair a worn-out item, donate it—if the kids no longer fit into older clothing, it can serve a second purpose for another student in the upcoming school year. Here, we upgraded a plain school shirt with an easy embroidered message, which you can do at home using the craft's printable fonts.
Stock Up on Supplies
Teach Them Arts and Crafts
Creativity is encouraged in the classroom, and any parent would want to foster the same environment at home. An arts and crafts space designed to enhance creativity can encourage expressions well after the last bell of the day—armed with the proper supplies and projects in mind, kids can make whatever they dream up all year long.
Mark Everyone's Electronics
Cleaning goes hand in hand with organizing and upkeep—and just as you would at home, you'll need to clean the items on your desk every once in a while. Here's an idea for wrangling everyone's devices: With one roll of patterned washi tape (make sure there's a light color in the design) and a Sharpie fine-point permanent marker, everyone can identify their own chargers. Wrap the tape around each USB wall charger, USB plug, and phone plug, cutting to fit. Then give each family member a different colored marker to fill in the light areas of the design. Seal with découpage glue and let them dry.
Prep Their Lunches
Prepare healthy lunches in batches over the weekend or from dinner leftovers in the evening before to save both time and money spent in the lunchroom. It's also important to note that a kid may be more likely to eat her healthy lunch if she helps choose the menu. Together, come up with a variety of sandwiches, fruits, snacks, and desserts; then print them out on this magnetic chart and let her fill in the blanks.
Even if you don't have a locker room in your home, this DIY project saves you from the clutter of after-school activities that can end up all over the place. Start with a barebones shelving unit, and then use bungee cords and a pallet to hold balls, bats, rackets, and sticks.
Supercharge the Car
Depending on the day, your car is a playground, dinner club, mobile office, and makeup studio all in one. Deep cleaning your car's interior is a great way to start fresh this year; make time in your schedule to do it at least once a month to keep your vehicle running smoothly.
Be Ready for Emergencies
Serve After-School Snacks
Sometimes a full meal is just too big of a commitment between school and afternoon activities, but the kids are craving something quick and satisfying. That's where snacks come in! Some can be made in advance, while other ideas can save you in a pinch.
Declutter the Homework Table
Shoved into drawers or heaped into piles, snail mail and documents can quickly crowd a workspace and stifle productivity. When it's time to toss out papers, you'll have to take extra care with anything that has on your name, address, phone, or social-security numbers—here's the best way to do it.
Keep books, toys, crafts, and school supplies out of sight, but not out of reach. This open storage cubby with cube organizers is customized with a set of colorful, collapsible fabric drawers.
Declutter the Bathroom
Streamline your kids' morning wash-up routine with a few simple additions. Try using suction hooks to stick a wire organizer directly onto the wall above; a fun solution for knick knacks that end up everywhere else instead. And keep a handy step stool nearby, which allows them to get a clear view while brushing their teeth.
Back to Bedtime
While giving yourself enough time to sleep is important, it goes beyond a curfew: What you bring into your bedroom can actually influence your sleep. Try implementing a few of these tips to make your family's bedtime routine that much easier.
Say "Thank You"
Lastly, this lesson: how a few magic phrases can turn a school-year token into a heartfelt memento. Download and print this template, which gives you and your little one plenty of space to list five reasons why his or her teacher deserves an A+ and to say thank you. Have the student fill it in and place it on a mini clipboard, along with a gift card and a grateful note from Mom and Dad.