Summer break is coming to a close, so let the back to school prep begin! This time of year, every parent’s schedule is jam packed with all the errands and extra chores needed to get their kids ready for a new school year. School supplies, new clothes and shoes, fresh haircuts — an endless list of to-dos to accomplish. The last thing on your mind right now may be an organized, school-ready home, but taking some time to reclaim your home after summer vacation can do wonders for your sanity and help your children back get into the school-groove more quickly.
No matter the age of your children, there’s no doubt summer has taken a toll on your home. Here are a few tips to help you take back your home after summer break, transition into routines and get ready for another busy school year.
Clean and sanitize
During a summer of fun, it’s easy for dirt, dust and pollen to accumulate in your home. Take a day to clean your house top to bottom, and everything in between. Give your older children a job and put them to work helping you get your home fresh and clean for a new school year. Gather all laundry in one location, pull out any clothes that are too worn or no longer fit. Bag up toys and other items that can be donated. Taking time to declutter and organize your home before going back to school will help prepare your mind for a whole new school year.
Create a calendar
A family calendar is a must to help keep you organized. With a new school year comes a host of new activities — sports practices, dance lessons, scout meetings, theater rehearsal, student council meetings, study dates, parties and more — keep track of any and all extra-curricular activities on a family calendar displayed prominently where everyone can see it. Color code entries by family member to help keep everyone’s activities straight. Mount a file basket near the calendar to keep school lunch menus, assignment sheets, school contact lists and other essential papers you’ll need to keep track of a new school year.
Plan your back to school shopping trip
Before heading out to buy new clothes, shoes and school supplies for everyone, take some time to get organized. Assess each child’s shoe and clothing need. Empty the closet of tattered or outgrown clothing. Create a list for each child. Do the same with school supplies. Go through your collection of last year’s supplies, toss what can’t be reused and keep what can. Rather than purchasing all new supplies, backpacks, pencil boxes and more, reusing and recycling what you can will really help protect your family budget.
Make a school-year budget
Between extra-curricular activities, tuition, uniforms and school supplies, back to school can also mean back to big expenses and higher weekly spending that can put extra strain on your budget. Plus, the holidays are just around the corner. Take time to anticipate and map out how much you expect to spend, and adjust accordingly. Rather than racking up more credit card debt, if you’ve built up equity in your home, this may be a good time to investigate a cash-out refinance. A Legacy Mutual Mortgage expert in your area can help you evaluate your options.
Gather your papers
Getting prepped for a new school year means physical exams and making sure vaccinations are up-to-date. If your child is starting at an all-new school, you may even need to supply a birth certificate for registration. Check your school’s website to find out what paperwork is required for the new year, and gather those documents in one place to save yourself a frantic search come registration day.
Set up a staging area
Choose a spot in your home to store everything that’s school-related. Having one centralized location will help avoid the morning scramble to locate a missing backpack just before the school bus pulls up to your stop. Train your kids to drop their bags, shoes, and any other school-related items in this spot as soon as they get home for the day, so you’ll know just where to find it in the morning. Keep the area clutter-free and functional. Utilize cube or basket storage — one for each child. Use the wall space in the area to hang a dry erase calendar to keep track of family schedules and keep a rotating display of your child’s artwork from school.
Designate a homework area
Having papers and school supplies strewn about your home only adds to the chaos. Create a designated homework area for your child, whether that’s on one end of the dining room table, or at a desk in your office or your child’s bedroom. Organize school supplies — paper, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. — in the area for your kids to use on homework and other school-related projects.
Prepare a lunch packing station
Set up lunchtime essentials including lunch boxes, plastic containers, water bottles, utensils and non-perishable food items in one place so making lunches is quick and easy. If you have space, take some time to separate out non-perishable food and snack items into individual baggies for grab-and-go access every morning.
Make a practice run
A few days before school starts, make a practice run to get you and your kids ready for another fast-paced year. Set alarm clocks for the whole family and get your stopwatch ready. Walk your kids through what a typical school morning looks like from waking up to getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and getting out the door. Need more time? Set alarms a bit early and try again the next morning. Practicing your back-to-school morning routine can save you stress on that first day and even help reduce any back-to-school jitters your little ones may be feeling.
The end of summer is sure to be full of mixed emotions – sadness that another summer has come and gone, anxiety and anticipation for the new year. Taking some time to organize your home before a new school year can help alleviate back to school stress for you and kids. Before you know it, you’ll be off and running into a new, jam-packed school year routine, so take time now to get your home ready.