Before you hit the back-to-school sales with your kids, says Simply Organized, take inventory of what is and isn’t in their closets already. Invest about an hour per child to clean out and #declutter closets and dresser drawers together, having them try on any garments that might be too worn, the wrong size or not their style; ClothingDonations.org an pick up any items that can be resold. Track what you keep and make a list of things you need to buy, and “shop with your list,” the blog says. “This will prevent you from overbuying and keep you on a good budget. [Being] familiar with closet and drawer space will also keep you from impulse overpurchasing.”
Every year around the third week of August, “Where did the summer go?” is a common lament among parents of school-age children. Those big yellow buses will start to pick them up in next couple of weeks, if they haven’t already, and the three-day Labor Day weekend notwithstanding, the start of school is a transitional moment for familes.
As with many seasonal transitions, back-to-school time carries clutter with it. The kids will return home from school each day with new paperwork, books, instruments, sporting goods, electronics and other stuff — and will tend to toss it aside the second they enter the front door. Summer is nearing its end, and with it, your vacation from indoor clutter.
To get ready for the influx of new junk, sort through and get rid of anything your kids won’t need in the upcoming school year. Store summer items such as camping gear and swim goggles out of sight to make the transition less traumatic. This would also be a good time to file last year’s art projects that are still stuck to the fridge and send one to grandma.
This is also a fantastic time to take inventory of the clothing that does and doesn’t fit your kids; there is no reason to keep things that they have grown out of. Bag up the rejects and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free donation pickup of anything you won’t be using in the year ahead; somebody can use them! Plus, the proceeds from their resale will help fund veterans programs.
Once school starts, parents should model proper decluttering and organization skills, suggests Mindful Decluttering & Organizing. Work with kids to designate confined but comfortable workspaces; create storage systems for their school supplies and projects; and sort, file and/or trash old papers to keep the clutter from escalating.
Most of what kids learn in school is stored in their brains; it doesn’t need to be in overflowing bins and boxes that crowd the closets and attic. It’s perfectly fine to document your child’s growth and progress, but keep only the pictures, papers and other memorabilia that represent pivotal moments in their development.
Back-to-school time is bittersweet, since it represents the end of the relatively carefree summer months. To ease the transition and preserve the stress-free feeling of summer, stay organized as the weather gets colder and the leaves begin to fall.
Many parents will be sending their kids off to school over the next two weeks, making for a bittersweet moment whether they’re heading to kindergarten or college. But what most parents don’t realize is that when summer ends and the offspring leave the house for at least part of the day, the demands on their own time will ease.
Without the kids constantly underfoot, needing rides or foraging for food, parents will have additional hours during the day to pursue their own career, learning and life goals. If you are in this situation and want to make the most of this newfound freedom, you’ll need to plot out a few projects for those extra hours.
Time management is the first step, Project Me says; without a plan, those extra kid-free hours will evaporate fast. Start by listing the things you would like to do with your extra time, such as going to the gym, starting a new work project or going back to school yourself. Identify your most important tasks, put them on a daily schedule and get started.
Decluttering is an excellent option, the site says. Step back and take an objective look at your space, create a plan of attack (doing one room at a time, for example, or targeting a number of bags and boxes to donate to ClothingDonations.org), and dive in. When each step in the task is complete, reward yourself! You’ll be much more likely to complete it if you have your eyes on a prize.
Back-to-school clutter likely needs organizing, says All Parenting’s “20 Things to Do When your Kids Go Back to School;” many areas may be cluttered with new clothing, backpacks and homework. Household cleaning tasks probably took a backseat to summer fun, too, so now’s the time to catch up on deep-cleaning the refrigerator, ceiling fans, baseboards, bathrooms and floors.
A digital decluttering can also help you get organized for the season ahead. Go through all of the summer photos on your phone(s) and camera(s); download them to a safe place and print the best ones out for framing and display. And while you’re at it, clean up your desktop and delete the mobile apps you haven’t used in months.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or work full time, you’ll find that having the kids at school will free up a little bit of your time. Plan on making the most of it!
Most schools across the country will be starting the school year in just a few weeks — and you can tell, since the back-to-school promotions have begun in earnest at the chain stores. But if you really want to save money, you don’t have to buy everything brand-new at a Target, Walmart or Gap. Back-to-school time is one time of year when it pays to shop at the local thrift store.
If you have young children headed back to school, chances are good that they have grown out of the clothes they were wearing last fall. Good news! Thrift stores are full of lightly used clothing and school uniforms that either fit someone’s kid until recently or didn’t get worn much at all. A lot of it is desirable, big-label stuff, points out The Well-Kept Wallet, that’s getting sold at a fraction of its original price.
If you live in a northern climate, you can get the jump on winter shopping, too. When people donate used or disused clothing to charities such as ClothingDonations.org, they often eliminate items such as sweaters and winter coats from their closets in the season they need them least — and that means you can score great deals well ahead of the onset of winter weather — and long before the selection gets picked-over.
One parent writing in The Penny Hoarder reports that she was able to outfit her two daughters, both in elementary school, for less than $40 by visiting thrift stores and rummage sales strategically. The children helped her shop on most trips, she says, and likely learned to appreciate a great value at the same time.
If the kids are headed off to college, a thrift store can be an even greater resource. There, you can find items such as desks, bookshelves, coffee tables, lamps and small appliances at bargain prices, as well as the bed linens, dishes and other household goods every college student will need for the first time when moving into a dorm or residence. The thrift can also be a great source for office supplies and backpacks.
Buying at a thrift store supplied by donations to ClothingDonations.org has the added benefit of saving you money while helping fund programs for veterans. And remember, you can contact ClothingDonations.org at any time to schedule a pickup of the clothing and other items your own kids have grown out of or just don’t use anymore. Somebody will be able to use that stuff, but to you, it’s just clutter.
Including clothing, electronics, shoes and school supplies, families will spend an average of $688 on each child during the back-to-school season, according to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), and $970 on every college student. But you can keep those costs down — way down — with a trip to the thrift store!
Most young people will return to school in just a few weeks. In many regions, school starts as early as mid-August, and that means there’s no time like the present to not only shop for the new clothes, textbooks and gadgets they’ll need for the upcoming school year, but also make room for those items by cleaning out some of the old stuff they won’t.
If your kids are still young, that’s great — you can help them form a foundation of habits that they can use throughout life. “Four-year-olds aren’t super-great declutterers, but they can certainly look through a pile of their drawings and pick out their favorites, or try out a pile of markers to figure out which ones are dried up,” says the Frugal Girl blog.
Help young children sort things into categories, and make “keep” and “get rid of” piles within each. Resist the urge to conduct the decision-making yourself; like everyone else, kids get attached to their stuff, and may be hurt if you make a call without their input. Instead, gently urge them to save only their favorites in each category (clothing, books, toys, etc.).
When they complete each segment of the task, box up the lightly-used stuff and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. To keep things orderly, invest in some plastic bins to keep like items together, and reinforce the advantages of decluttering by pointing out how neat, clean and spacious their shelves and rooms become.
If your kids are already in their teenage years, the battle may be more difficult, says The Non-Consumer Advocate. Again, you should involve them in the decluttering process; it is not OK to arbitrarily clean and toss. Do, however, set concrete limits on how many of a particular item can be kept: X number of T-shirts or X number of games.
If you’re sending a child to college for the first time, you have a golden opportunity to declutter your home. You might have plans to repurpose his or her room, and even if you don’t, there’s likely a ton of stuff they won’t need during the transition into adulthood that you can store, sell, donate or throw away before they go.
As they pack for school, again: Create piles of items to keep, donate and trash. Almost any item of clothing your child doesn’t want to take to college is fair game for a donation, as are toys and games they’ve outgrown. Take this opportunity to have your child create his or her own bin of special memories, says the SpareFoot Blog, and store it in a safe place.
When your child moves out of the house for good, they can take that bin with them — and you can reclaim the space!