Summer is winding down quickly – school starts in Pennsylvania 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 permission slips, gym clothes and lunch money. A little organization and planning can go a long way toward minimizing back to school insanity – 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. Organize shopping lists ahead of time.
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. Cut the clutter
This is the time to go through your children’s closets and eliminate what they no longer need or want. 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. Organize to the max.
Organize that freshly cleaned closet while stowing away all the new school items you purchased. It’s never too late to take this step! Group clothing by type and color, and put their favorite (or most needed) clothes where they’re easiest to reach. Make it simple for sleepyheads of all ages 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. 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. While you’re planning ahead, 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. 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 place their shoes on the shoe rack, stow their backpacks in the closet 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.
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, Pennsylvania’s community association management leader. 
Wednesday August 24, 2016