While these summer days may seem endless, school is just around the corner, believe it or not. Before back-to-school prep really ramps up, make some time to declutter your home and get it ready for the school year’s chaos. Here are eight specific things that you can do to get your home back-to-school ready before the semester kicks off:
- Take inventory of last year’s supplies.
Before you rush out to the back-to-school sales, do an inventory at home to determine what you already have on hand so that you don’t accidentally buy a bunch of duplicates. Other things will also be on sale (or at least tax-free) in the weeks leading up to school, so this is also a great excuse to go through the rest of the house, including your kid’s clothes, electronics and bedding sets. Donate whatever the kids have outgrown and get rid of worn-out gear like backpacks and lunchboxes to make room for the new accessories.
- Create a transitional zone.
When your children return home from school, they will need a place to hang their jackets and bags and a space to put their shoes. A mudroom is an obvious place for this, but if your home doesn’t have one, then you can make an entryway work by adding a few key items. You’ll want a coat rack or wall hooks to hold their jackets and a bench with storage that can hold their shoes as well as their bags. Make sure that both of these are at a height that your kids can easily access; otherwise, everything will just end up on the floor anyways.
- Set up a study space.
Your kids need a dedicated study space to do homework where they won’t get distracted. If your kids are old enough to be self-directed, then a kid’s desk with a hutch in their bedrooms is probably the best move. However, if they’re still in elementary school, then you’ll probably want a more central place where you can supervise them, such as the kitchen table. Make sure that you have a nearby cabinet stocked with essential school supplies like pencils and paper so your kids can just grab what they need instead of having to stop in the middle of a problem.
- Make sure there’s enough storage space.
Kids accumulate a lot of stuff during the school year, so you’ll want to have a place to store all their school projects as the year goes on. Clear out space in the basement or a spare closet so you’ll have a central place to put everything. Plastic chests of drawers are an inexpensive way to keep everything organized by kid or subject, and clear drawers will let you see everything without having to open them. If your kids have space in their bedrooms, you can also put storage in there so they can keep their stuff in their rooms.
- Prep your kitchen for the school year.
Making school lunches before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee is a million times harder when your kitchen is a mess. Before the school year starts, declutter your kitchen accessories and pantry and reorganize everything so that you can find whatever you need at a moment’s notice. Consider creating a centralized cabinet that contains all the essentials for making school lunches (cutting boards, food containers, etc.) so that you can use that as your prep station every morning. You should also consider stocking your pantry with some easy-to-make, shelf-stable meals for those evenings when you get home from soccer practice, and your kids want to eat right away.
- Go through your kid’s clothes.
If you’re still in charge of choosing your kid’s outfits for each day of school, then it’s totally worth it to go through their closet and do a complete reorganization. Not only is this the perfect opportunity to get rid of any clothing they’ve outgrown, but you can also preselect outfits and/or group their garments by category to make it easier to get them dressed. Give their closet a refresher at least once a season so you can rotate in clothing that’s more appropriate for the changing weather.
- Make a family calendar.
Having a shared family calendar is absolutely essential to maintaining your sanity during the school year, especially if you have multiple kids. Most people find a digital shared calendar convenient; many families also like to supplement with a physical calendar so they can visualize their big events for the coming week and month. If you’re feeling especially tech-savvy, you can even set up a monitor in a central location to project your digital calendar so that you have the best of both worlds.
- Have a system for organizing school papers.
You’ve got your kids’ school supplies on lockdown — but what about your stuff? Over the school year, you’ll accumulate a lot of papers, such as permission slips and report cards, so you’ll want to have a system in place for organizing those. Your system can be as simple as an accordion file for each child, but you can also do hanging wall folders or another option that makes sense to you. Get in the habit of filing all your school-related papers in the same place, so you never have to hunt for another document at the last minute.