It’s that time of year. If you have kids; you know what I am talking about. The days are shorter, the nights cooler and the first day of school is just around the corner.
With the kids at home all summer, staying organized probably feels utterly impossible. Now throw getting prepared for back to school into the mix and you’ve got your work cut out for you. But don’t give up just yet; every bit of organizing effort you put into your home will go a long way towards a smooth transition into the school year. So step back, take a deep breath and let’s start with some overall strategies for creating a kid-friendly, organized home and getting prepared for back to school. Here are 10 organizing tips for back to school success.
- Simplify. Remove as much excess stuff as possible. Kids are always getting new things– make sure to retire or rotate older items on a regular basis to avoid overcrowding, which leads to frustration and broken items. Go through your children’s clothes and extra-curricular gear and purge anything they’ve outgrown. Donate what you can and replace only what your child needs this season.
- Don’t fall behind – If you haven’t done so already, go through schoolwork, art projects and papers from the prior year and clear out anything that is no longer wanted or needed. Put items to save in a labeled bin. Better yet, go digital and scan or take photos of papers and projects.
- Take a child’s eye view. Especially when it comes to living with little ones, it helps to get down to their level and take a look at your space. Look for hidden dangers, such as tippy furniture, outlets, and breakable items. Disorganized and dangerous is much worse than just disorganized. Create zones, just a like a kindergarten classroom so toys and activities are easy to find, use and put away. And last but not least, choose furniture and storage solutions that fit in your home and aren’t fussy.
- Get everyone involved. Getting the whole family involved in the organizing process can help ensure that everyone will be on board with maintaining the new set up for back to school success. Kids can help make decisions, choose containers, make labels and more!
- Make cleanup easy. Start a cleanup routine at the end of each day. Make it fun – make a game out of tossing soft items back in a bin or have a cleanup race, seeing who can complete a task faster. Use clear or labeled open containers to store different categories of toys. If kids know where stuff goes and it’s easy to put it there, they’ll be more likely to help put it all away.
- Ensure smooth landings. Create a landing zone near the entrance door with hooks for backpacks and jackets, space for shoes and sports equipment and in/out bins or wall pockets for the flood of papers that need attention.
- Organize bottom to top. Prime real estate for kids is down low, at their eye level. Keep the most-used items low and store less-frequently used items up on higher shelves. Also, keep items that you want to be in charge of out of reach and maybe even out of sight.
- Color coordinate. Kids love color, so use it in their organizing systems. Color-coded storage areas, drawers, and other containers are a creative way of “labeling” your kid’s storage system. If you have more than one child, let them each pick a color, so identification is easy.
- Label, label, label. Labeling helps kids and everyone else in the house knows where to find things and where to put them away. If your kids are too young to read, include a picture on the label, so they know what it is.
- Make it official. A label on something makes it stick. Once a bin has a label that says “HOMEWORK” or a cubby is labeled “SPORTS GEAR,” those become the official homes for those items. If school and activity supplies have labeled homes, there’s a much better chance everyone can find what they need, when they need it!
Organizing a home with kids is not about perfection, but about implementing strategies that make organization a bit easier to maintain. The goal is to make your life simpler and the transition back to school easier.
By Sarah Buckwalter
Certified Professional Organizer®
Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience in home, move and office organization. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer.