Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah – school starts in New Jersey at the beginning of September! As a parent, you know what back to school means. Sure, it’s a change in schedule, but it’s also a change in your whole world: rushing out the door, speeding through homework, running back home for forgotten lunch boxes, permission slips and backpacks. Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to insanity. A little organization can go a long way toward minimizing back to school stress – and make this time of year more fun for everyone.
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. Get Rid of the Clutter – Be Ruthless!
No more Mr. Nice Guy or Gal here. This is the time to go through your children’s closets and eliminate what they no longer need or want. 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 prep better too! Bonus: You’re making space for fall and winter clothing that fits.

2. Create effective lists.
Everyone benefits from a good list before they go 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.  

3. Maximize organization.
Remember that closet you successfully de-cluttered? Organize it while stowing away all the new school items you purchased. It’s never too late to take this step! Group clothing by type, and put frequently-worn items where they’re easiest to reach. Make it simple for your little sleepyheads to find their wardrobe when they stumble out of bed in the mornings. Speaking of sleepyheads, it’s a good idea to start preparing them for the school year sleeping schedule, gradually, as summer wanes. Get them going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and try to limit mid-day naps. Cutting back on caffeine can help with this as well. While you’re planning, get carpool and transportation schedules set up as far in advance as possible, especially for the mornings.

4. Create after-school rules, before school starts.
Everyone made it through the school day, and the first thing that happened at home is...chaos: backpacks on the floor, lunch boxes in the hall, and shoes, well, pretty much everywhere (none of them with a mate, most likely). Give your kiddos simple rules when they come home, and an accessible place to put their items (plus maybe a healthy snack to hold them over until dinner?). If they know to put their backpacks in the closet, place their shoes on the shoe rack, and put their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter, you’ll at least have an organized starting point to launch them into homework and reading (or some well-earned free time if they’re all caught up). 
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, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s community association management leader. 
Wednesday August 24, 2016