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  • Kitti McKay

Organize Your Way Out of the Back-to-School Blues

Can you believe it? The summer is half over (groan!) and, if you have school-age kids, you have two choices:

  1. Barrel through this week to get them prepped and organized for school now, and relax for the next couple of weeks

  2. Leave it until Labour Day weekend to discover that, not only have they outgrown most of their clothes, but that their once-plentiful school supplies have all but vanished, and Walmart’s shelves have blank spaces where the stationery items used to be…

Though I admit that the enticing sunny days make it very tempting to procrastinate, I’m still a big fan of option 1, as it enables you to address any needs or deficiencies with a calm and collected eye, and the glass of wine that you enjoy will be one of celebration, not medicine to calm your shattered nerves!

Busy moms tell me that it’s best to start with the clothes, for a couple of reasons:

  • Since you will want the children to be involved, it may consume a little more time and patience.

  • If you need to replace items or purchase that all-important “first-day” outfit, there will be a much better selection available sooner than later.

Tackle the Closet

You and your child should start by decluttering and organizing the closet. Turn a critical eye to each item (Is it ripped? Do I even like it?), make the usual “keep”, “donate”, and “toss” piles, and take away the discards immediately. Your child may balk at this process, but if you remind them that some of the items will help a little one in need and that replacement items are coming their way, their enthusiasm is bound to pick up.

After that’s done, it’s a good idea to hang like items together (e.g. pants with pants, shirts with shirts) and then color-code them, so that your shopping list will have specific items which will actually go with the remainder; this can save you money by avoiding haphazardly purchasing clothes which will never get worn.

Remember that this can also be a fun life lesson for your child, not only by teaching them how to value their possessions but by equipping them with good organizational habits for the future.

Tame the School Supplies

When it comes to school supplies, the exact same principle applies: lay a drop sheet on the bed and empty all backpacks and desk drawers onto it. Now you can make sure that all pens and markers are in working order, and that you have sufficient writing implements, paper, notebooks, etc., for at least a month.

Most stores will be having back-to-school-specials this month, so why not save money at the same time? Even if your school provides a list of supplies required on the first day, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the basics on hand to avoid the aforementioned dreaded empty store shelves.

Here comes the fun part: you and your child can figure out creative ways to organize the supplies to keep them tidy and accessible! Writing paper and color-coded notebooks or binders should be stowed neatly on a shelf or in a desk drawer. Old jars and tins can find new purpose once they’re painted or wrapped with colorful paper, and stickers can adorn oblong baskets that separate pens, pencils, markers, etc.

The object of the game is to avoid future clutter while inspiring clarity at homework time because children thrive in an organized environment just as much as adults do. If homework is typically done at the kitchen table, simply decorate a kitchen caddy and put the refurbished jars and tins in it for homework on the go!

Keep in mind that there will still be last-minute details to be addressed, but at least the bulk of your back-to-school prep is done—so go ahead, inflate that beach ball and have fun with your kids!

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