Get back to an organized home for back-to-school season

An organized drawer with scissors, pens, rubber bands, markers and other office supplies

A new school year is right around the corner, along with all the chaos that comes with it. Books, backpacks, homework, a hand-out for this, a permission slip for that—it’s a lot to deal with.

But before you let yourself get buried under a pile of worksheets and school lunches, remember that school season doesn’t have to send your home teetering into disarray. Use these home organization tips to keep your house and your sanity intact, at least until winter break rolls around.

1. Create a homework station. Homework has a way of taking over the whole house (which is odd, considering that it never seems to get done). Creating a homework station will boost productivity and keep all that school-related clutter in one place. Be sure to keep it stocked with all the study supplies your kids need, like pencils, erasers, loose-leaf paper, highlighters and calculators.

A blue backpack stuff full of colorful school supplies2. Set aside an area for backpacks. It must be very satisfying for kids to dump their backpacks in the first available spot when they get home from school, but it doesn’t exactly make your life any easier. Create a designated backpack area where each of your kids can hang their backpacks for easy access.

3. Organize school clothes in advance. Getting dressed in the morning is a chore. It’s only a matter of time before somebody misses the bus, and you know what comes next. Skip the morning stress by having a full week’s worth of clothes ready and organized for your kids at the beginning of each week. It’s also a good idea to let your youngsters help out with this—it will make the job easier for you, and lessen the likelihood of an “I-don’t-want-to-wear-this” crisis later on in the week.

4. Stay organized. You need a central place where you can keep track of all your appointments, parent-teacher meetings, soccer practices, after-school study groups and anything else that might come up. Use a system of organization that works for you—could be a bulletin board, a big erasable calendar, or a system of color-coded folders—and stick to it so that you can stay on top of you and your kids’ schedules.

5. Make the family room neutral territory. With books and backpacks everywhere, your house needs at school-free zone. So make your family room (or living room, or another room of your choosing) a neutral area that’s just for having fun and spending time together, not for schoolwork.

A family of four sits at their kitchen table eating breakfast together6. Ease the breakfast burden. Making breakfast for a house full of kids is a big job, especially if you also have school lunches to put together. Let them to handle breakfast on their own by creating a DIY breakfast station complete with fresh fruit, Tupperware containers of their favorite cereal, milk in a jug with a spigot, and easily accessible bowls and silverware. Make it a firm rule that dishes go in the dishwasher when they’re done, and breakfast will have practically taken care of itself.

7.Don’t forget the car. Your car might be clean now, but just you wait. If you don’t want it to be a mess of jackets, soccer balls and crumpled notebook paper by the end of the first week, it’s going to take vigilance. When you bring your kids home each day, make sure each one has picked up everything they brought into the car with them.

We all know back-to-school season can be stressful. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay organized as a flood of pencils, papers and folders approaches your door. These home organization tips will make the months ahead easier than you ever thought possible.

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