For many parents spring cleaning doesn’t just happen in Spring, it hits during the month of August just before the start of the new school year. The lazy days of summer all of a sudden turn into panic as the upcoming school year looms around the corner. In an attempt to calm oneself and get organized, you can make lists of the ‘to do’s’, ‘to buy’ and the ‘to go through’. These lists may work or have quite the opposite effect and merely served as reminder that you are anything, but calm and organized. What’s needed is a step back and a look at the big picture. Back to school can be a fresh start and you want to start it with your best foot forward. In order to do this turn those lists into three concepts. Discard, organize and mindfully purchase.

Discard: This is a great time to organize closets, dressers, toys, old school work and art! Go through all your child’s clothes and shoes and throw out any that they have worn out. Did your kids outgrow any clothes or shoes before they were worn out? If they are only gently used, don’t forget to donate! This is a great time to go through toys as well. Kids get busy when school starts with homework and after school activities. They will naturally have less time to play with all their toys so donate any toys they are no longer interested in. They probably won’t even notice!

Many parents keep everything their child brings home from school. It just seems to precious to immediately toss in the recycling! But after a year of gathering and watching your child’s school work grow into a mini volcano; it’s time to sit down and figure out what is their best and toss the rest.

Organize: Make way for any new school clothes. Create space for all the goodies your child brings home from school. Create a space for important school documents that need parents attention and response. Have a designated spot for your child to keep their homework, close to pencils and supplies needed to complete it. And last but not least, a spot to put all of the school work and fun art they bring home. Having a place for all of these important school items not only keeps your house clutter free, it helps prevent lost work and helps show your child just how important school is.

Archive and store your child’s best work, art and accomplishments. You can keep it simple with a 3 ring binder. It’s easy to pull off the shelf and not only you will enjoy looking through it but your child will as well.

Organize your child’s clothing. Make it easy for them on busy school mornings to find exactly what they are looking for. Separate t-shirts, tank tops and long sleeves. Have them help you so they remember where everything is.

Will your child have any after school sports or extracurricular activities? If so, figure out before they start where their equipment will be placed before they get into a habit of throwing it on the couch when they walk in the house.

Mindfully purchase: One way to create less clutter and less items to throw out is to be thoughtful about what you buy in the first place.

After discarding and organizing your child’s clothing it is easy to take a glance and figure out what they really need for back to school. They might not need everything.

Think about buying items that will last longer than just one school year, even if that means they are a bit more expensive. Replace plastic disposable baggies with reusable items such as stainless steel or durable plastic. This won’t just save you money, but will be a good lesson for your child about helping the environment. Perhaps your child, like many, would love to get a backpack featuring their favorite character. Often those backpacks last only one year, if that. Compromise with a character lunch box or binder. Your child will be happy and may not complain when you urge them to get a better quality backpack in a favorite color that will last a couple of years.

Remember to think of back to school as a fresh start for you and your child. After discarding and organizing it should be easier to see exactly what you need and more importantly, what isn’t needed. So take a breath of fresh air, discard, organize and mindfully purchase.

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