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.

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