Back-to-School Shopping? Organize First!

Is back-to-school time seeping into your consciousness yet? If you have school-age kids, August is the time to make lists for new clothes and school supplies. You may want to add back-to-school organizing to your lists, too. It’s time to get those closets and desk spaces ready.

Organizing Closets for Back to School

Before you begin, go through all items in the closet and categorize them by how often your child wears them. Get your kids involved, too—it’s a good way to show them how being organized is a helpful life skill. For items that your kids have outgrown, or that they tell you they never wear, make a donate pile. This will help you create enough space for new clothes. Now you are ready to organize clothing by type, style, and season. The clothes they wear most frequently should be the easiest to access. Next, organize what gets hung up in the closet.

What to Hang Up

  • Blouses and dress shirts
  • Dress pants and trousers
  • Jackets and sweatshirts
  • Dresses and dress skirts

If closet space is at a minimum, store off-season clothing until the weather is appropriate to wear them again.

Organizing Drawers for Back to School

sock drawer

Follow the same steps to organize your kid’s dresser drawers. This is a good time to check for holey socks to toss.

What to fold away

  • Jeans and other pants with heavy, durable fabric
  • Sweaters
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Under garments
  • Socks

Use shoeboxes as partitions for drawers that have different articles of clothing in them.

shirt drawer

Optimizing Drawer Space

When drawer space is minimal, try this quick, handy tip for t-shirts:

  • Take folded t-shirts and fold each one in half again.
  • Rotate 90 degrees and place them in the drawer. This allows you to see every t-shirt in the drawer.

If you have more t-shirts than drawer space, consider purging ones that are infrequently worn.

Organizing Desks for Back to School

With homework on the horizon, it’s also good to do some back-to-school organizing to desks or workspaces. If you have a ‘tween or teenager in the house, engage them on this organizing process – it can help them to be ready for high school, college, and adult life. Here’s what to do:

  • Take everything off the desk and out of the drawers and group items into two piles: what to keep and what to toss.
  • Take the keepers and group them by type of object (papers, pens, pencils, and so on). Place similar items in clear plastic containers to help keep things neat and easy to find.
  • Toss items like old glue sticks, pencil or crayon nubs, dried out markers, old paint sets, pens that don’t work, and so on.
  • Take note of what you throw away and if you need to resupply on items.
  • Before putting the keepers back inside the desk, clean top and inside the drawers.
  • Decorate the desk in a way that’s appealing, yet not distracting.


Getting the Desk Ready for Homework

Once the desk is clean and items are neatly back in drawers, create separate folders for papers and accurately label each one. Ask your older kids for advice. They know what to label them. Desk stacking trays are another great way to help your kids be organized once school starts.

  • Label the first folder or stacking tray for completed homework that your child will need to turn in.
  • If you use trays, label a few folders your child can use for carrying work to school. This can help keep completed work neat and tidy, even in backpacks with little extra room. Your child’s hard work will make an even better impression on teachers.
  • Label a second tray for homework or projects that still need to be completed.
  • You can also label a third tray for completed work that does not need to be handed in, but that you or your kids may want to keep. Creating a space on a bookshelf for these can also be helpful. Or, if desk drawer space is ample, create file folders and label them: artwork; essays, writing projects, and so on. It’s a good idea to put the school year on the folder name—for posterity.
  • For older kids, you may want to organize stacking trays, folders, or files by school subject.

Now It’s Time for Back-to-School Shopping…

  • Grab your notes on any items that need to be resupplied.
  • Consider other supplies needed for the school year: printer paper, extra printer cartridges, notebooks, binder paper, staples for stapler, scotch tape, colored pencils, and so on.
  • Add any supplies your child’s school suggests to the list. Items like binders, folders, book-cover wrapping, pencils, protractors, and so on.

Take your list, grab the kids, and head to your local store. Make it fun—picking out school supplies is still exciting when kids are young, so enjoy it!


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