October 17, 2023

Tips for Restoring Your Home to Normalcy After the Kids Go Back to School

Tips for Restoring Your Home to Normalcy After the Kids Go Back to School

Every Fall, you can count on changing leaves, cooling temperatures, and busy schedules. After summer, sometimes all you want to do is reset. Cleaning and organizing your house is not about getting a magazine-perfect look; it’s about improving your mental health and well-being by creating a space that brings your entire family a sense of calm, reduces stress, improves focus, and allows you to waste less time searching for things.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the task at hand. Here’s how you can get started and keep the house clean throughout the year.

Create Routines

If your days still feel chaotic, it’s time to examine and fine-tune your family’s routines.

“Create a daily schedule that includes set times for waking up, meals, homework, playtime, and bedtime,” says Deborah Lansdowne, the Principal at A Pinch of Time. “Be consistent to help children adapt to the school routine more easily.”

You can start with your morning routine. Deborah suggests that you lay out clothes, pack lunches, and have backpacks ready the night before.

Make a Plan

The first step to organizing your entire home is to create a master list of everything that needs to get done. Whether it is on a piece of paper or in a Notes app, get everything down.

Then plan family sprints. When possible, schedule a few hours as a family to get the home organized. Have a list of tasks posted for everyone, and encourage them to cross them off when they complete them.

If you cannot plan full-day home organization sprints (which, who has the time to do that often?), try adding one task to your to-do list every day to slowly make your way around the house.

Prioritize the Entryway and Mudroom

Your entryway and mudroom see the most traffic in your home. It’s where dirty feet walk and bags are dropped. There are three tips that can make it easier to keep this space organized.

Use two doormats. Put one outside the exterior door and one inside the door to prevent dirt, mud, pollen, rain, and snow from making its way onto your floor.

Have a system for shoes. The doormats are a good start, but now you need a system to store and organize all of the shoes. Dedicate plenty of space for all of the types of shoes that may be needed here (i.e. tennis shoes, rain boots, snow boots), and create a rule for storing shoes not in use (i.e. every night before dinner, take these types of shoes back to your closet). Also, if the shoes don’t fit, aren’t worn, or are in bad condition — get rid of them!

Rotate seasonal gear. Have a plan for rotating all of your seasonal clothes and tools. Buy nice storage containers to house off-season gear while outfitting your entryway with hooks, shelves, and cubbies to organize the on-season gear. Once the weather shifts, swap your seasonal stuff. Or even better, set calendar reminders for swapping gear such as Labor Day to put away summer stuff versus April Fools’ Day for storing winter stuff.

Small Areas that Make a Big Difference

The snowball effect can be helpful as you organize your house. Start the day with one easy task, like organizing a junk drawer or going through your child’s closet to get rid of small or worn-out clothes. Once you get started, you may naturally move onto an adjacent task. By the end of your day, you’ve knocked out several items on your list. The trick is to get started with something simple.

And don’t underestimate all of the smaller areas of your home! Organizing these places can have a huge impact on your overall sense of calm.

Closets. Take everything out to get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the last 12 months, doesn’t fit, or isn’t wearable. Not sure? Schedule an hour when everyone is home to try on or go through items together. Do you need more supplies to organize the contents of the closets? Take a trip to a store or resell shop to get containers, shelving, buckets, hangers — anything that will keep your closets clean and organized. Then put everything back in.

Shelves. Remove everything, clean the surfaces, and organize the items as you put them back on the shelf. During this process, find books or items you can donate or sell to prevent clutter.

Medicine cabinet. Take everything out, clean the shelf, find and safely dispose of expired meds, make a list of out-of-stock items (don’t be without band-aids and Ibuprofen!), and organize them when you put them back on the shelf. Items you use most often should be easiest to reach while grouping like-items together to search faster for less frequently used things.

Get rid of old magazines and mail. Stop letting old periodicals stack up. Go through each one, tear out articles you want to keep, shred anything confidential, and recycle the rest.

Get the Family Involved

Don’t tackle this project alone! Schedule days where the whole family helps. Assign them rooms or tasks (with a visible list, as we mentioned earlier), and have something fun at the end of the day to celebrate the progress that everyone made.

Then, keep the family organized throughout the week. “Use calendars, planners, or digital apps to keep track of school events, extracurricular activities, and important dates,” says Deborah. “Share this information with your children to help them stay organized also.”

Maintain Your Calm Home

This is all well and good, but after a crazy weekend, you don’t want your home to end up in disarray again. In addition to the previously mentioned tips, the following advice can also help you keep your home calm and organized.

Make your beds. Hold each personally accountable for making their beds each morning before they leave the house. This one simple daily habit can kickstart your day.

Reference your schedule. Each morning, review the day’s schedule as a family. This is great to remind people of their activities and responsibilities, but it also brings forward any issues or conflicts that were undetected up to this point.

Tidy up before you go to sleep. Before each family member goes to bed, make sure they tidy up their things and spaces. Avoid delaying bedtime by setting standard times with everyone. For example, say, “At 8:15 p.m., we all tidy up!”

Practice self-care. According to Deborah, this is the MOST important thing to remember. “Make time for your hobbies, exercise, and relaxation to recharge your energy and reduce stress,” Deborah says. While you spend time and energy to organize your home, do not forget to take care of yourself.

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