Summer is ending.
As kids, this inevitably brought us to tears. Now, if you're a mom, like me, it's time to smile and breathe a sigh of relief ; )
But first, we have to get through the back-to-school season. And that usually means we're buying an onslaught of stuff for our kids so we feel that they are prepared for the new school year. Yes, they will need new clothes (they grow so fast!) and school supplies (don't forget the backups!), and those items are unavoidable. However, we get so mired in the shopping frenzy that we don't realize how much clutter and chaos we are truly bringing into our home. Do we even need it all? Are we actually getting rid of anything that's no longer useful in the process?
This year, I want to make sure that you are de-cluttered and ready to start the season off with a fresh start. The new school year is a time for new beginnings for parents and kids alike! So instead of buying, buying, buying, here are some tips to keep your back-to-school shopping efficient and clutter-free at the same time. Get ready for your most organized school year yet!
1. De-clutter the Old to Make Room for the New
Going back to school usually means an entire new wardrobe: new clothes, new shoes, new backpacks. But it also means a new routine. All of this newness can be super overwhelming. So before you go buy any more stuff, reevaluate what you already have and need.
For example, are you buying new clothes for your kids? Go through what they currently have and de-clutter. Pull out everything that no longer fits. Every school has different rules about what you can wear, so make sure that what you keep is within those limits. (Or, at least, sit down with your child, and explain what is school appropriate and what is not. Having this conversation before you do school shopping will save you a headache later.) If you're going to keep the clothing, it must FIT and be in decent condition. If the item doesn't meet those two requirements, but is still in a good enough condition that someone can get some use out of it, donate the item or consign it. For a list of places to donate/consign to in the Charleston, SC area, check out this list of resources I created for you here.
Of course, de-cluttering isn't just about clothing, but also what your kids actually need to learn: school supplies. So it's time to check out your office! Where does your child do his/her homework? What do they use? Go through your office and any desks or drawers in your house and see how many pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, papers, etc. that you have that your child can use.
Now, I realize that part of the fun of back-to-school shopping is picking out new stuff for the new year. And your child probably has certain requirements for school supplies. I totally get it. I mean, there's nothing like the smell of a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, am I right? (Did you get that You've Got Mail reference?) But I also believe that a great balance is picking out new school supplies for school and de-cluttering what you already have at home. This process will force you to throw away any pens that don't work, recycle unusable paper and make sure that you have a clean, workable space for your kids to do their homework. And if they have a desk in their room - definitely go through those drawers! Your child will be able to focus and be much more creative in a clean, clutter-free space, than sitting at a desk full of distractions.
2. Prepare for Exactly What You Will Need to Buy
Now that you have de-cluttered and see what you have, you know exactly what you still need to buy. I have yet to meet a child who hates back to school shopping. It's new, it's colorful, it's all about them - it's fun! Keep the shopping fun and stress free for them. Talk to your child BEFORE you go. Go over the list (don't forget the school's checklist!), and discuss exactly what you need. Let them know you are only getting what is on the list. It is much easier to remind them of your conversation, than try to explain to them why you aren't letting them get a new iPad when you are knee deep in the wrath of Target. Sticking to your list will also save you big bucks!
3. Plan Your Store Shopping Route
Before you head out for the big shopping day, plan on what stores you are going to. Search/download/print out any store coupons for extra savings. If you don't want to venture out, that's ok, too, just do everything online! You can easily include your kiddos in virtual shopping if that's your preferred method (less shiny objects to distract them, too!).
4. Think About Lunches
Are you making lunch everyday for your kids or giving them lunch money? Will they be home by lunch time or will they be eating at school? Whatever the answer, make sure you have the supplies you need for their lunches. Because this will be a daily task that can either make or break your day, their day, everyone's day.
Personally, I love having reusable containers that will last all year long so I don't have to remember at the last minute that I need more plastic baggies. Store these containers in an easily accessible place in your kitchen where both you and your child can reach. Think about your flow; have all lunch-packing materials in the same vicinity to make packing quick and easy every day.
de-cluttered Tip: Pre-package reusable food/sandwich bags for the week. On Sunday, have your child pre-pack any snacks (i.e. grapes, pretzels, popcorn, etc.) in the baggies and store them in the drawer or refrigerator. When they are ready to pack their lunch, they can grab the baggie they want and put it in their lunch box - easy!
5. Consider the Flow of the Day
Whether it's getting out of the house on time in the morning or settling at home in the afternoon, where do you keep the things your kids need for school? (HINT: The answer is not wherever they drop it.)
Have a designated spot for backpacks, lunch boxes, jackets and shoes. This could be in their bedroom, in a mudroom, in a hallway closet - whatever works for your family is what is best for you. This is where everything should be dropped off as soon as they come home. NOT in the car, NOT in the hallway, NOT in a tree. It is much easier to keep track of things - for both moms and kids - when we know where it is and where it's supposed to go.
That's it! By getting ill-fitting clothing and useless school supplies OUT, you are clearing space for what you WILL use. Once you de-clutter, you will know exactly what you have, which will make your shopping list super easy!
This is going to be the best school year yet. Good luck!