How to Tidy Up Every Room in Your House for Back-to-School

With a few smart organization strategies, you can kick off the school year right.

Modern Teen Bedroom in Space Style
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Back-to-school likely means back to a busier schedule for you and your family. But with a little decluttering and some smart organizing hacks, you can make this school year the best (and most zen) one yet. Here's everything you need for back-to-school organizing to get your house in shape for the new school year. (And keep your calm!)

Organize Your Entryway

There's a reason the entryway of your home is often referred to as a "drop zone"—and unfortunately, it's because your kids likely drop everything right on the spot when they walk in the door. But you can easily transform the space (and hide the clutter) with a few key organizational tools.

  • Edit mercilessly. There are probably plenty of items in the entryway that you don't use regularly right now. Before school starts, move out-of-season clothing and sports gear to bins in a separate closet or the garage—and give away anything that no longer fits. Reduce what's in the entryway to things you actually use on a regular basis to make it easier to store and organize them.
  • Put everything on your kids' level. When you're plotting out your storage system, go low. "Make sure your kids can easily reach things on their own by putting storage, hanging racks, or hooks down lower, where they can access them," says Jamie Hord, founder of New York organizing company Horderly.
  • Take away any barriers to using your system. You want to make sure every system in place is as simple as possible. If you have lids on your shoe bins or your kids need a step stool to store their jackets, those items are far more likely to end up on the floor rather than in the spot you want them, Hord says.
  • Tailor it to your children. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for every kid (especially if they all have different extracurriculars that require different storage options). So look for systems that can be customized (and can grow) to make it more likely that everyone uses them.

Streamline Your Kitchen Setup

Your kitchen is likely where a lot of the lunch packing, snack making, and even homework happens. So take time over the summer to declutter your kitchen and have it back-to-school ready before the big day.

  • Prep ahead for lunches. Truesdale recommends setting aside time before the week begins to prep packs of perishables and nonperishables to streamline your lunch and snack packing and make your morning simpler. "Get fridge bins to categorize foods for making lunches and another for fruits and snacks to quickly grab when putting together lunches or after-school snacks," she says. "You can also pre-package dry snacks for the week so that each morning you grab one dry pack and one pack from the fridge and easily get out the door."
  • Create a snack drawer. Admittedly, this is an every-season snack hack, but creating a dedicated spot filled with (healthy) snacks for your kids can reduce the "I'm hungry, what can I have?" questions after school. You may want to do the same thing in your fridge, too—dedicate a drawer or a clear acrylic bin to fresh fruit, string cheese, hummus, and other perishable snacks that kids can dig into at will.

Tackle the Paper Piles

Students bring home reams of paper every year—whether it's precious artwork or a slew of school notices and permission slips. Fortunately, there are a few options for helping tame the paper tiger.

  • Be selective with what you keep. Your budding Picasso may be a little too prolific with the artwork—and while you might feel bad about dropping a few of those masterpieces into the recycle bin, holding on to every scribble will likely become unmanageable pretty quickly. Before the new school year starts, clear through past years' collections. Keep the very best, send a few to family members who might want to display a masterpiece or two, and recycle the rest. If your "keep" pile still looks a little too hefty, there's a smart way to preserve the work without the clutter—take a picture. Hord recommends using Artkive to create photo books or wall art from your child's handiwork.
  • Keep a recycle bin right near your front door. Make it super easy to get rid of junk mail, flyers, or anything else you don't need before it has a chance to become part of a pile.

Prep Their Bedrooms

You might not think about organizing and revamping your child's room for back-to-school—but a few key decluttering and organizing projects can help them get the new school year off on the right foot.

  • Add a little more zen. A good night's sleep is essential, and a lot of toys or electronic gadgets may make it hard for them to get their rest. "When going to bed, the goal is to let the brain wind down and not be stimulated to a state of unrest," Truesdale says. Clearing the room of toys can help create space for them to unwind. "It's always good to have only low activity things in the bedrooms," Truesdale says. "If there are separate playrooms in the house, keep the higher activity toys and items there instead of the bedroom. "If their bedrooms are also where the toys are kept, zone the room so high activity items are out of sight from the bed, Truesdale says.
  • Make getting dressed easier. To avoid daily battles over what they're wearing, the classic organization hack is to use a hanging shelf organizer in the closet to lay out all their clothes for a week of school. But if you want to give them more freedom in the moment, store out-of-season or out-of-dress-code clothing in a separate place, so you know whatever they pick (even if it doesn't quite match) will pass muster. "If you want your kids to dress themselves, first make sure everything is easily accessible to them and that items aren't hanging too high or in drawers they can't see into," Hord says.
  • Create a homework haven. For older kids who can manage homework on their own, create a dedicated study space in their room, Truesdale suggests. "Have all the essentials the student might need, in a place with low traffic or noise and good lighting for maximum focus." Tailor the spot to your child's learning style. "Knowing your child's processing modalities will help create more success," Truesdale says. "If your child doesn't do well in complete silence, maybe set up a white noise machine or soft music in the background."
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