Six More Weeks of Summer

With the Labor Day weekend behind us, most people (and especially people with kids) are mourning “the end” of summer. Whether or not you or your kids have to be in school, however, there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy.

At the time of this writing, there are still nearly three weeks until the fall equinox — the official end, astronomically speaking, of the season. But many places in the U.S. won’t see real fall weather for several weeks beyond Sept. 23.

If there was a Groundhog Day in the summer, in other words, Punxsutawney Phil would likely give us six more weeks to enjoy. So there’s no reason to stop having cookouts, taking road trips and otherwise savor the season.

Take in a baseball game, BroBible suggests. Go for swim. Attend a music festival or see a summer blockbuster. Throw a Frisbee. The weather is fantastic (in many places, better than in August), so don’t let the calendar tell you when the summer fun needs to end.

Most of the activities you’ve enjoyed since June are still going strong, HuffPost says, so maintain your summer mindset into October. “Continue to have fun, to eat fresh produce from the farmer’s market, to read trashy novels, to spend time outdoors, to go for walks after dinner and long bike rides on weekends.”

There’s still time for decluttering, of course. As you squeeze in those last few summer outings and events, be conscious of what you will and won’t need as it starts to feel more like sweater weather.

For example, you’ve probably worn those white jeans/shorts/linens for the last time, so you can now safely donate them to ClothingDonations.org. The same goes for outdoor equipment you won’t be using much longer, such as camping gear and pool toys.

By the same token, you can also stock up on sweaters, blankets and household items best suited to fall festivities at the thrift stores supplied by ClothingDonations.org. The resale of #donated goods helps fund veterans programs throughout the country year-round.

Now’s the time to squeeze the last bits of outdoor merriment out of summer. As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And summer ain’t over just because the kids are back in school!

Declutter the Kids’ School Paperwork

Even as classrooms transition to digital technologies, kids can gather lots of papers — assignments, reports, art projects, completed quizzes — during the school year. These can pile up and create #clutter in the home if you don’t stay on top of them. To keep the papers you save to a minimum, Simple Purposeful Living says, ask three questions as you start to go through them and #declutter: (1) “Is there more than one?” Keep only the best of the flower/house/truck drawings. (2) “Can you get it again?” Forms, immunization records and report cards often fall into this category. And (3) “What’s worst thing that could happen?” Would you really miss whatever it is if it were gone?

Designate Spaces for School Stuff

Back-to-school season will bring lots of new stuff into the home, and if you designate places where these things will “live,” Hadley Court says, it will be easier to keep them from getting dispersed to create #clutter or get misplaced. Better still, defining study and storage spaces can actually support academic performance. “Individual spaces are where creativity strikes and focus flourishes,” the blog says. “With some intense #decluttering of things you don’t need anymore, these spaces become individually inspiring. By making sure each space has its own purpose, certain tasks like homework are done separately and successfully.”

Conquering Back-to-School Clutter

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.

Take Advantage of Kids’ Back-to-School Time

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!