It's back-to-school time - is your house ready?
We're not quite sure where summer went, but if you haven't noticed, it's already time to think about the new school year.
And as you think about how to get your kids organized and ready, consider doing the same thing for something else - your home. It won't just be good for you; in many instances, removing clutter also means removing distractions, which can help your kids focus better.
Where to start
You can start wherever you like, but it might be best to make sure your activities are organized before you start in on the daunting task of tackling all of your stuff. With sports and other activities, the school year can be a blur for parents. So keeping a family calendar - whether it's a dry-erase board or just a weekly printout on the fridge - will ensure that everyone knows where they're going, and when.
Before the kids go back
Don't head out for back-to-school shopping just yet. First, do an inventory of school supplies, clothes and shoes so you aren't buying things you don't need. Toss or donate stuff that's old, that doesn't fit, or that your kids simply don't like and won't wear any more. One trick we've seen online: If you're going through a whole closet and you're not sure what fits your kids, have them try on pants until you find a good pair. Then use that pair to compare the length of all of the other pants.
When they've got homework
If possible, designate a study space where your kids have the tools they need for success. It should be well-lit, quiet and free of distractions. Different kids have different learning styles, so you'll soon find out what works well and what doesn't.
Now that you've gotten them organized ...
... It's time to focus some energy on your stuff. Eliminate as much clutter from the house as you can, perhaps by following the classic 80/20 theory: 80% of the time, most people use only 20% of their stuff. If the item you're looking at isn't in that 20%, ask yourself: Do I really need this?
Stay on top of things
You're off to a good start in the organizing battle - so keep things rolling! Each week, set aside time to go on a "search and destroy" mission for clutter. It's much easier to stay organized when you only have to do a little at a time. And make sure the kids are involved, too. Everything - homework, school forms, backpacks - should have a home. And when everything has a home, you'll be happier in yours!