Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah – school starts in Virginia 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. Set House Rules Ahead of Time
Everyone made it through the school day, and the first thing that happened at home chaos: lunch boxes in the hall, backpacks on the floor, and shoes, well, pretty much everywhere. Setting simple rules when they come home about where stuff goes, and an accessible place to put it (plus maybe a healthy snack to hold them over until dinner?) will make things easier off the bat. If they know to stow their backpacks in the closet, place their shoes on the shoe rack, and put their lunch boxes on the kitchen counter, you’ll have an organized starting point to launch them into homework (or some well-earned free time if they’re all caught up). 
2. Ruthlessly Eliminate Clutter
This is the perfect time to go through your children’s closets and eliminate what they no longer need nor want. Not only is it the beginning of the school year, but soon a change of season too. 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 cool weather clothing that fits.
3. Shop From a Good List.  
Everyone benefits from making a thorough list before they go shopping; the more you have to do, the more a good list can help. Effective list making can have items grouped by child, retailer or category, ensuring that related and accessory items are purchased at the same time as primary items like uniforms. Of course, there are always a few surprises in store once the first week starts. Forgot a notebook or a pack of markers? Keep a running list somewhere where everyone in the family can add to it as items come up.  
4. Organize From the Ground Up
Remember that closet you successfully de-cluttered? Organize it while stowing away all the new school items you purchased. You’ve got a clean base, so get it organized and it’s more likely to stay that way. 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. Start 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 can “wearing them out” with a family bike ride, walk or game of tag after dinner. While you’re in a planning stage, get carpool and transportation schedules set up as far in advance as possible, especially for the mornings to make things easier the first week.
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, Virginia’s community association management leader. 
Wednesday August 24, 2016