Back-to-school means less fun and more work for the entire family. Above all, it means a cluttered home requiring constant tidying and organizing. Sad as it is, a clean home is a school year’s biggest victim. And while disorganization is inevitable, especially in households with children, it’s important every parent properly manage both clutter and grime in an effort to stay clean, healthy and sane. Clearly, managing home clutter is a crucial part of living a happy, balanced, healthy and germ-free life. It is especially important as you gear up for your chaotic back-to-school.
First of all, let’s talk about your health. Too much clutter fosters dirt and bacteria in a home. The more cluttered your home is, the harder it is to clean and the more likely you are to grow the existence of germs lurking in every nook and corner. Too many germs can make every member of a family sick, and since families are already more likely to get sick during every back-to-school year—the American Academy of Pediatrics states that “children in day care or in school can have as many as 8 to 12 colds a year.”—it’s important to take every measure possible to stay healthy.
Next, remember that clutter isn’t just about physical cleanliness, but also sanity. If you waste time and energy trying to find the everyday items you need (and can’t), you’ll get frustrated, fall behind schedule and miss prime opportunities to tackle some of life’s more important tasks. The clutter of things is most often closely tied to mental and emotional baggage. Organizational expert Peter Walsh explains, “clutter robs us of life. It robs us spiritually, because we can’t be at peace in a cluttered home. And it robs us psychologically, by stealing our ability to feel motivated in our space.”
And while back-to-school-related clutter is unavoidable, there are some things you can do to keep your home and life as organized as possible before school begins. Here are 7 tips to help you get started.
1). Clean and disinfect all backpacks, lunch boxes and bags
If you haven’t touched your kids’ backpacks since last year, they’ve most likely gathered much dust and are filled with germs. Wipe them all down, and scrub them with soap and water. Machine wash them if possible. Above all, take time to disinfect lunch boxes and lunch bags. Disinfectant wipes work best on hard non-porous surfaces such as plastic or even metal lunch boxes, so be sure to use them liberally on such containers. Every parent wants to feel good about sending their kids to school. Each parent also wants to feel good about letting that backpack and lunch box into your home each day. Check every pocket of a backpack, wipe off every hard surface and start your school year clean, fresh and ready.
2). Wipe down desks and workspaces
Similarly, make sure you clean and disinfect every surface where your kids will use for work, study and projects as soon as school starts. Desks and homework tables should be cleaned with a good disinfectant wipe so they are germ-free. Clear them of any unnecessary toys, paperwork, books and tchotchkes. The more stuff you have laying around, the harder it will be to focus, so try to purge what you don’t need and relocate items you want to save. If you start the school year with a clean and clear working space, your kids will be more likely to start the school year with a clear mind.
3). Make room for paperwork and school utensils
If you don’t want your kids’ homework, school projects, artwork and extra pencils/papers/stickers etc. scattered around our house, create a proper place for all of that stuff so you can organize it and keep it out of sight. Use hanging file folders to store homework assignments and completed work. Stack books on a bookshelf or cabinet. Use modular storage containers for items like pencils, markers, scissors and crayons.
4). Plan outfits in advance
It might seem a little premature, but in the days leading up to school, plan out your kids’ outfits so you have one less thing to worry about the day of school. Every parent can avoid trying on 5 different outfits every morning (most of which will end up on the floor or shoved into the back of a disorganized, messy drawer). Lay out clothes the night before school. For any school uniforms that haven’t been touched in months, unpack them, wash them, reorganize them and make sure everything fits and is properly cleaned before the first day of school.
5). Organize and clean closets to make room for new items
Speaking of closets and clothes, now is a great time to go through your kids’ wardrobe and pack away, store or donate any items that no longer fit. Get rid of unwanted items now so you have less clutter to work through once school begins. Even though a parent can shut the door to a closet, keeping a mess out of sight, simply knowing a clean closet exists behind those shut doors can bring an overwhelming sense of peace.
6). Create a morning routine (involving hygienic habits)
Disorganization isn’t just about more stuff; you can be disorganized with your time too. To avoid a chaotic morning once school starts, create a solid morning routine BEFORE school begins and practice it a few times before it’s go-time. Do a few test runs to make sure you have enough time and energy to make breakfast, get dressed, tidy up your house and get to school on time. Incorporate hygienic practices like brushing your teeth, washing your face, making your bed etc. into your kids’ daily routine; the more prepared you are the more likely you will be to stick to that routine, feeling much more energized throughout the day.
7). Stock up on supplies
Once your school-driven days get busy and hectic, it can be tough to find time to load up on home cleaning supplies and storage items. Prepare your home cleaning arsenal with of disinfecting and anti-bacterial products you need NOW, before you need them. Make a list of anything you need for back-to-school preparation. Once you feel your home is in order and you have the tools to keep it so, you and your family will be ready to begin the school year off correctly, clean and primed for success.