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Back to School: Getting Organized

Back to School Organizing:
(Part 1)
Getting The House Ready
 
 
 
 
 
It's that time again!  Summer is drawing to an end and school is approaching faster than we would like to admit.  You are probably looking around at the evidence of summer in your home and wondering how in the world you will be ready for school to start.  This series of blogs should help motivate you to kick start the preparation for back to school! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Before we can buy school supplies and new clothes, we have to prepare a space to put everything.  As a professional organizer, these are the areas of the home that I often help clients prepare for back to school:
 
 
 
 
The Closet:  Kids closets often get pretty messy during the summer.  Clothing gets worn and outgrown which takes up valuable space. 
 
 
  • Try on your children's clothing and shoes to see what needs to stay and what needs to go. 
  • Make a list of items that you need to purchase.
  • Create a system that will keep your child organized (I love the hanging vertical "shelves" that have the days of the week.  You can pick out outfits for the week including socks and undies so that you child can grab an outfit and dress himself.)
  • Donate the clothing that you can no longer use.  (fyi:  Most donation drops will even take clothing that has rips or stains.)
 
 
 
 
Organizing a kid's closet will help to keep it cleaner.
 
 
 
 
The Bedroom:  As kids create, their bedrooms get messy too. This is a good time to give their bedroom a good overhaul!(Sometimes rearranging the furniture will create an exciting new space for your child and will encourage them to help keep it tidy!)   
 
  • Rearrange furniture to maximize space and create a "new" room
  • Create organizational systems for your child's items (toys, accessories, etc).  When systems are in place, the room will stay cleaner!  (If your child is old enough, let them help you create the system- this gives them a sense of ownership.)
  • Label storage systems
  • Organize toys and remove any broken toys or toys that the child has outgrown
  • Wash bed linens
  • Clean out from underneath the bed (Kids love to stash items there when they are supposed to clean!)
  • Provide a trash receptacle
  • Make sure the child has a dirty clothes basket
  • Give the room a good clean
 
 
 
Organize a Kid's Bedroom
 
 
 
The Bathroom:  The bathroom can be a busy place in the mad morning dash.  Organize for success to cut down on chaos!
 
 
  • Clean out storage areas in your bathroom (under the sink, linen closet, etc)
  • Re-organize storage areas and take inventory
  • Make a list of needed items
  • Create separate storage baskets for each person to contain their belongings
  • Stock up on extras that you will need (soap, toothbrushes, tissues)
  • Give the bathroom a good clean
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Study Area:  When school starts, your little scholars will need a suitable place to do their homework.  Set them up for success!
 
 
If you already have a designated area:
  • Clear all clutter from work area
  • Stock supplies
  • Make sure area has adequate lighting
  • Freshen up the space (add some color and make the space inviting!)
  • Give the work area a good clean
 
 
If you do not have a designated study area:
  • Find a quiet nook in your home that will house a desk
  • Add shelving if needed to house accessories
  • Choose an office chair
  • Incorporate adequate lighting (Lighting is very important because poor lighting can create a negative mood and cause headaches.)  Overhead lighting plus a desk light should be a good combination!
  • Add a touch of color to brighten the work area.     
  • Stock the work space with supplies (pencils, paper, printer, ink, crayons, ruler, calculator, etc.)
  • Use decorative containers to hold supplies
  • Decorate the space to offer a warm and inviting feeling so your child will want to do homework!
 
 
 
A closet office is a brilliant idea!  http://graceandivy.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/closet-office-anyone/
 
 
 
 
The Entryway/ Mudroom:  Leaving home and returning home can get messy.....especially when you are running late!  Create a system to help keep belongings where they need to be.  Make sure that bags are packed and ready to go the night before.  This will help to make sure that all necessities make it to their intended destination.
 
 
  • Create a command center to keep everyone on track
  • Add a chair or bench to sit on while putting on shoes
  • Hooks are a great way to collect everyone's backpacks and jackets
  • Baskets are convenient to house shoes
  • Winter wear such as gloves and scarves need a home (I have a basket labeled for each of my kids under our bench to collect any loose items.)
  • I keep a basket labeled "car" for any items that I want to make sure that I do not forget when I leave the house.  (Outgoing mail, library books to return, store items that need to be exchanged, etc.) 
  • Don't forget to give your keys a home!
 
 
 
Create a space for backpacks and shoes.  http://www.marthastewart.com/274341/fall-organizing-tips/@center/276989/organizing#189467
 
 
The "Office":  Maybe you have a full office, maybe you use a cabinet in the kitchen.....somewhere you have those important papers that keep your family running. Once school starts, your paperwork will likely double so make sure that you are ready so your important paperwork does not turn into clutter!
 
 
  • Sort through existing paperwork and discard anything that is no longer needed (Make sure to shred or destroy anything that contains personal information-speak with your accountant before destroying any financial papers if you are uncertain.)
  • Filing systems are the most practical storage for paperwork such as bills, banking statements, medical, etc. 
  • Determine where your child's artwork and school papers should be stored (I keep a basket for my children to collect their treasures from school that is emptied multiple times throughout the year.  In order to maintain a healthy balance between treasures and clutter, create a photo book for each year that contains writing samples and artwork for each child.  Have a plastic bin for each child to collect special artwork or treasures that cannot be contained in a photo book.)
  • Create a space for your children to display their art in the home. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Kitchen:  In the south, we often refer to the kitchen as the heart of the home.  (Maybe that's because we tend to think that the way to your heart is through your stomach!)   Preparing your kitchen to run smoothly during the school year will certainly help move your schedule along smoothly and encourage healthier eating as well!
 
 
  • Remove everything from the pantry/ cabinets/ fridge and wipe everything down to sanitize
  • Organize your pantry/ cabinets/ fridge (throw out any expired foods- this is a good time to see which spices need to be refreshed for the upcoming holidays)
  • Inventory your kitchen pantry and see what food items that you already have and make a list for what you need to purchase.
  • Gather lunch boxes (wash them out if necessary) and put them in an accessible spot
  • Make sure to have quick breakfast items ready for the mornings that the family is running behind schedule.  (Carnation breakfast drinks, dry cereal in a bag and a cup of milk, cereal bar, etc.)
  • If your children prefer to take their own lunch, create a "lunch making station" where your children can create their own lunch.  (Sandwiches made ahead placed in a labeled baggie, fresh fruit and vegetables proportioned into single servings, frozen tubes of yogurt, sticks of cheese, chips, juice or milk boxes, small water bottles, etc.)  Children are more likely to eat their lunch if they build it themselves!
  • When the kids return home from school, they will likely be hungry so put some healthy snacks within their reach.  (When my husband traveled, we would actually eat dinner when my kids got home from school- about 3pm-then have a snack before bed- my kids ate a healthier dinner and fewer snack foods!)
  • Give your kitchen a good cleaning
 
 
 
 
I hope that this blog has inspired you to transform your home into "Back to School" ready.  Keep an eye out for Back to School Organizing (part 2): Creating a Command Center.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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