Summer is ending faster than we want it to – many schools in Maryland start at the end of August! As a parent, you know what back-to-school means. Not just a change in schedule, it’s a change in your whole world: making everyone get up in the morning after a summer of sleeping in, rushing out the door, speeding through homework, running back home for forgotten lunches, permission slips and gym clothes. A little organization and planning can go a long way toward making this time of year easier on everyone and minimizing back to school insanity.
Check out these suggestions from California Closets, the leader in custom home storage solutions and an authority in design, for arranging your household to be more school-friendly, and your first day back will earn an A!  
1. Plan Ahead for a Smoother Shopping Trip.
Everyone benefits from a well-organized list before they go shopping, especially for a task as mammoth as back-to-school shopping. Effective list making can have items grouped by retailer or category, ensuring that related and accessory items are purchased at one shot. Of course, there are always a few surprises in store once that first bell rings. Forgot a composition book or a pack of highlighters? Keep a running list somewhere that everyone in the family can add to it as items come up.  
2. Clean Out The Closets Early.
This is the time to go through your children’s closets and eliminate what they no longer need or want, and what doesn’t fit. Be ruthless! Last year’s sneakers, sweaters, pants and shorts likely don’t fit anymore; donate anything that’s too small but still in good condition and make someone else’s school preparation easier too! Bonus: You’re making space for fall and winter clothing that fits.
3. Set the Rules At Home Before School Starts 
Everyone made it through the school day, and the first thing that happened at home is...utter chaos: lunch boxes in the hall, backpacks on the floor, and shoes, well, pretty much everywhere (without the mate, right?). Give your young ones simple rules when they come home, and an accessible place to put their stuff. (plus maybe a healthy snack to hold them over until dinner?). If they know to place their shoes on the shoe rack, put their backpacks in the closet and store their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter and have the right places to put everything, you’ll at least have an organized starting point to launch them into homework and reading.
4. Maximize Your Organizational Setup
Organize that freshly cleaned closet while putting away all the new school items you purchased. Group clothing by type and color, and put their favorite (or most needed) clothes where they’re easiest to reach. This makes it easier for sleepyheads of all ages to find what they need when they stumble out of bed in the mornings. 
Speaking of sleepyheads, gradually getting the kids back on track can make it easier when school starts. Bring back consistent bedtimes to make things easier in a week or two. Get them going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and try to put electronic devices to bed an hour before the kids are. If they have a hard time getting to sleep earlier, wear them out with a family walk or bike ride if possible. While you’re planning ahead, get carpool and transportation schedules set up as far in advance as possible, especially for the mornings.
Back-to-school is the time to make sure your home is working harder for you. It’ll help your kids focus on the things that matter – and in the process, you’ll be able to, too. For more on making your home school-ready and organizing your home, contact FirstService Residential, Maryland’s property management leader. 
Wednesday August 24, 2016