Transform clutter and chaos into calm, cool, and controlled.
Lately, our homes have become our everything—office, gym, classroom, movie theater... it's no wonder they can start to feel cluttered and out of control. With school just around the corner, now's the perfect time to whip your home into shape and get ready for smooth sailing into the school year. Here's how.
Create a space for hanging things up.
Coats, hats, backpacks, umbrellas are all easier to find (and way less messy!) when they're hanging in one spot. Buy an inexpensive set of wall-mount hooks and designate a few for each family member. Label them with masking tape—such as "Claire's Backpack" or "Alec's Jacket" to help kids get into a habit of putting their things where they belong.
Post a checklist for each child.
Even for bigger kids, a visual list of what they need before walking out the door each day is helpful and saves parents from having to nag and remind. Try to keep the list limited to the most important items, such as eating breakfast, brushing teeth, feeding a pet, making their bed, checking that they have homework/books, and grabbing a jacket, hat or backpack on their way out. For young children, make a list with cut-out photos of the things or activities they need to check off for a great visual reminder.
Reboot your breakfast plan and shop to stock up.
If you're stuck in the grab-a-bar habit for breakfast, now's the perfect chance to commit to having better, brain-boosting choices on hand. Stock up on items such as frozen multigrain waffles, turkey sausage, high-protein pancake mix, old-fashioned oatmeal, frozen blueberries, or ready-made breakfast burritos or bowls. Choose three or four that your kids love, and include those items every week when you shop so they're always on hand.
Create a snack box. To help kids be more independent, let them pack their own snacks—keep a kitchen cupboard or crate stocked with things like individually packaged beef jerky, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts, crackers, applesauce, or fruit pouches, and have kids choose and pack their snacks each night.
Do a closet check.
Go through your kid's clothes and donate anything that no longer fits. Do a shoe check to see what still fits after the summer. Don't forget to check fall/winter clothing, too; do last year's winter boots still fit? Is there a warm hoodie ready for the first cool day of fall?
Ready a workspace.
Whether your children are learning remotely or going back to in-person learning, it's important they have a dedicated spot to do homework. It doesn't need to be fancy—just a clear space without a lot of distractions. Corner desks are a great and inexpensive space-saving option you can tuck in a bedroom, or consider transforming part of an old closet into a work cubby.
Do a tech check.
Make sure your Wi-Fi is working optimally; you can check your internet speed online with simple website tests. Consider taking laptops or Chromebooks into a local computer repair shop to scan for viruses, update software and systems and make sure things are working at optimal speed.
Have a nightly "reset to zero."
It may be the last thing you feel like doing right before bedtime, but muster your troops together and have kids do a pass-through of high-traffic family areas and do a quick clean-up. That means putting away books, toys, remote controls; hanging up clothes and lining up shoes for the next day; clearing any cups or dishes, recycling or throwing away old papers or schoolwork, and "resetting" the house for the next day. As you get more efficient, have kids help get things ready for the next morning, such as setting out bowls and spoons for breakfast or packing snacks.
Getting your house organized for back-to-school time isn't just about creating Instagram-worthy spaces—it helps you create a sense of sanctuary in your home, and allows your kids to participate in making it a place that's peaceful and easy to live in.