Back-to-School Shopping Sans Clutter

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 per child on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, or $59 more than last year.

Given the downturn in spending while kids were distance-learning during the #pandemic, the uptick isn’t surprising. In fact, that lull in spending may mean that many students (and their parents) will be buying more #stuff this year than ever before.

If you’re going to be shopping for school in the weeks ahead, consider what you really need — and what you and your kids can shed in order to make room for it. Otherwise, all of that too-small clothing and all of those broken iPads will just add to the #clutter.

To keep levels of #junk in check, do a thorough #decluttering before you send the kids back to school. Help your children sort toys and books into four piles, Motherly suggests: Keep, donate, trash and “not quite yet.” Put the not-quite-yets in a closet or other out-of-the-way place until your child is comfortable letting them go.

Clothing is simpler: If a garment doesn’t fit, it should be handed down, sold at your next #yardsale or #donated immediately. If something it too worn to be of any further use, you can cut it into rags or trash it.

Books that won’t get read again can go, too. While you may want to hold on to classics that get read again and again, some books are age- or classroom-specific. If your child isn’t going to read a book again, you can donate it to a local library or ClothingDonations.org.

Finally, you can take any starred assignments and drawings from last year off the bulletin board or fridge. New ones will be on the way in just a few weeks, and Family Handyman suggests several #space-saving ways to save and show off a few family favorites.

Once you’ve cleared out the extra stuff you won’t be using, you’ll have space for nearly $900 in new goods. Make a list and start shopping early, however, since there may be shortages of essential items such as backpacks, stationery and tablet computers due to supply-chain disruptions.

“What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back-to-school period,” Neil Saunders, retail analyst at GlobalRetail Data, told CNN. “Some consumers will inevitably miss out on the things they want to purchase.”

Start Planning Fall Home Improvement Projects Now

One of the curious aspects of the #pandemic is that it forced people to stay home more — and all that staying at home helped many launch renovations and other projects to make their space more useful and livable.

With things are nearly back to #normal in many parts of the country some 16 months later, people are in a more celebratory mood, using their summers to travel, visit friends, go out to restaurants and generally do all of the things that the coronavirus curtailed.

There are likely a few household projects that still need doing, however, and you might want to plan ahead to get them done when the weather turns cooler and the kids return to (in-person) school.

Likely projects for areas with cold winters include upgrading your furnace, replacing single-pane windows and adding insulation, says Family Handyman. You should also clean the gutters and replace any missing shingles to protect your roof against leaks.

If any exterior painting needs doing, early fall is one of the best times to do it, the Spruce says; pick a dry week with temperatures above 50°F. You can paint interiors at any time, but it’s always nice to give your space a fresh new look ahead of the holidays.

Wait for the fall to do any projects that involve lumber — new building, flooring, decking, etc. — to give prices a chance to stabilize. Wood products continue to be in short supply, and costs are high as a result.

Upgrading your home office is a good project to tackle this fall if you’re one of those lucky people who will continue to work from home (#WFH) once the pandemic subsides. Consider a new desk, shelving, artwork or an attractive background for your Zoom call.

One household project you can tackle at any time of the year but is especially important to do ahead of DIY projects is #decluttering. Go through that room, closet or garage, weed the #stuff you don’t need, and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free #donation #pickup.

Your fall projects will be easier to accomplish once you get that #clutter out of the way. And once you complete your fall home #renovations, you’ll have an attractive, functional and clean new space to call home.

Lend Mom A Hand — Help Her Declutter

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and given the fact that the pandemic isn’t over, you may be planning to send a card or schedule a Zoom call. If you’re able to meet in person, you may have made brunch reservations or purchased a special bouquet to give her.

Whether or not you’ve made those arrangements, there’s one more thing you should consider giving your mother, and it’s a gift she’ll never forget: a day of your time. Volunteer to help her #declutter and #clean her home.

This blog’s author can tell you from experience how much a mother appreciates such a gift. Not only will she enjoy having a newly organized and spotless kitchen, garage or living room, but she will also appreciate the fact that you took the time to do it.

Many moms have a room in their home that they wish was a little more organized. It could just be a shelf or drawer that needs rearranging and dusting, but the chore is on her mental list and she hasn’t had the time to do it herself.

If you already know where her home’s #clutter trouble spots are, suggest that you take care of one during a visit. If you don’t, ask! Chances are that there is an overflowing junk drawer or overstuffed kitchen cabinet you can clean out.

Decluttering is just one of the chores you can take off Mom’s hands; she may need a wall repainted or a shelf fixed. There’s probably a light bulb to replace or a picture to hang. If you really want to show you care, give her a framed family picture and hang it on the wall immediately.

Many moms may be looking to downsize in retirement, but may not know where to begin. You can help her prepare for that next phase by sorting through some of the extra stuff that has accumulated over the years.

If you happen to find anything that she doesn’t want or need as you help Mom declutter and clean — and you will — schedule a #donation #pickup with ClothingDonations.org. That way, she’ll know that her extra #junk is going toward a good cause.

In addition to giving Mom a newly #organized, neat and #clean space, you’ll also get a few hours to catch up after a long year in lockdown. Make a day of it! It’s quality time, well-spent. And she will remember that day long after the flowers have wilted.

Decluttering the Home for Remote Learning

“#Organization and #clutter control are critical” to distance learning, says Boulder Valley Waldorf School. If you haven’t already #decluttered a space for your child’s remote and hybrid lessons, now is the time — COVID-19 may soon be less of a problem, but some of the changes it wrought will likely become permanent. Remove the visual chaos so that the kids can focus on schoolwork, and make #organizing a part of everyone’s daily routine. And as always, set aside anything you no longer need as you #delutter and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free #donation #pickup.

Create an Effective Remote Learning Area

COVID-19 has forced a lot of families to suddenly embrace remote learning. But even though it is largely performed on screens, remote learning can attract #clutter and will require a dedicated space to be effective. Organized by Heart says to start with the basics: Pick a desk or work surface that’s the right size and height for your children to stay focused; add a corkboard, clips or magnets so they can display their work; and add some easy-access storage space. Most importantly, “Keep things portable and easy to put away.”