It’s hard to believe, but for many kids in Houston, the first day of school is just around the corner. Summer vacation is coming to a close, and that means it’s time to get organized for a great school year.
Though many kids and parents start out the year feeling prepared and organized, it can be tough to stick to a new organizational routine, and by fall break, homework gets left at home and no one knows what the cafeteria is serving for lunch.
But you can help keep your family organized before the start of the new school year with some simple supplies and easy adjustments to the way your family already functions. Here are the best tips for back-to-school organization — and how pressure washing services can help get your home in tip-top shape before the school bus arrives.
Stock your car with emergency baggies
Have you ever been enroute to dropping your child off at school when you hear from the backseat, “I forgot to finish the backpage of my homework!” Or how about, “My scab fell off and now it’s bleeding again.” It happens to every parent, but if you’re already in the car, there’s usually very little that you can do to help.
Unless you plan ahead! Using a clear pencil bag — or even makeup bags you’re not using — create emergency baggies that live only in your car. These baggies have all the essentials that you can hand back to your children, so you don’t have to stop the car or turn around.
Before the first day of school, pack three kits:
- Homework helper: Add pens, pencils, erasers, a pad of paper and a small calculator to this bag. If someone forgets an assignment — or even wants to work on the way home — this little kit will have the homework essentials.
- First-aid friend: Pack this one with plenty of extra bandaids, antibacterial wipes and tissues.
- Tech savvy: Never let a phone die again. Throw in an extra charger, a rechargeable battery and a few spare AA and AAA batteries. This should cover all your bases.
Keep these kits in your car and restock when needed. You’ll find forgotten assignments or sports-related injuries seem less anxiety-inducing when you’re prepared for them at any time.
Buy school project supplies in advance
It’s Sunday night. You’re just clearing away the dinner table. Suddenly: “Can you help me with this poster board? It’s due tomorrow.”
It’s the phrase every parent dreads hearing. Kids forget assignments and due dates all the time, but it can be especially troublesome when your kid announces that a project is due tomorrow — one that was assigned two weeks ago.
You can head off this problem at the beginning of the school year by stocking up on project supplies such as:
- Poster board: Buy a few plain white poster boards and a few colorful ones. A little variety might make a project look snappier.
- Crayons and markers: Grab the master 64-count crayon box and a pack of markers.
- Glue and tape: Mix it up by buying a few sticks of glue as well as several bottles. Then pick up scotch tape as well as masking and duct tape. It never hurts to have some variety.
- Scissors: Have a new pair ready to go.
- Construction paper: Great as a background for photos or text on white paper, construction paper can jazz up a plain white poster board.
- Glitters, stickers and fun supplies: Anything to help spruce up a project and let your kids get creative.
- Storage containers: A three-drawer plastic container should hold everything.
If you have the space in your home, set up an art center, somewhere out of the way, where kids can leave art supplies out and work on their projects. Set up a folding table in your basement and keep all the supplies nearby.
The advantage of having a good supply of school project supplies is two-fold. First, you won’t have to make time to go stock up on these supplies at any point during the year (though you may need to restock around the holidays, depending on your child), which will save you time during the week. It’s just one less thing you need to stop off and grab before coming home from work.
Second, you may actually encourage your child to start projects earlier. If the supplies are already available and ready for use, your kid may be more inclined to start sooner and finish up.
Make grab-and-go meals and snacks easy
There’s nothing worse than waking up late on a Monday morning and then realize you sent the kids off to school without their lunches or any after-school snacks while they’re at their extracurriculars. Late-start days are bound to happen once in a while, so make them less frantic by pre-packing snacks for lunches at the beginning of the week — or on whatever day you do your grocery shopping.
To do this, you’ll first need to pick up some plastic containers specifically for small snacks. Think five per kid, one for each day of the week. You can get them in different sizes and shapes, so buy them based on what your kids like to eat. If they like carrot sticks and hummus, for example, make sure you buy smaller containers for the hummus. To really stay organized, you can buy containers in different colors, one for each kid. You can, if you prefer, buy plastic baggies instead, but plastic containers will last longer and are better for the planet. This is a great, easy way to get your kids thinking about sustainability at a young age.
Once you do your grocery shopping for the week, get your containers and lay everything out on your counter after you’ve put away everything else. Now divide up your snacks into each container, one helping for each lunch. In your refrigerator, carve out a section that is strictly school lunches only and store all of the containers here.
When it’s time to head out the door, grab one snack container from your refrigerator shelf or have your kids pack their own lunches. This will streamline the lunch packing process in the morning and get everyone out the door quicker.
Of course, don’t forget to stock up on easy lunch essentials that don’t require additional packing. Apples, easy-peel oranges and string cheese need no preparation, and they make great additional snacks.
Try a digital calendar instead of a physical one
Creating an organized routine sounds great in practice, but it doesn’t always translate to real life. You may want your kids to come home every day and immediately write their team practices and project due dates on your kitchen calendar, but for some kids, that seems like a chore. When they get home, all they want to think about is snacks.
Having a calendar system in your home is great, but when you choose one, make sure that it fits your families habits and lifestyles. If you meet your family in the middle, they’ll be more likely to participate and get into a routine that keeps everyone happy and informed.
If the traditional calendar-on-the-fridge isn’t working, try a digital one. There are plenty of calendar apps that each person in your family can download and add to as needed. These calendars can be accessed anywhere and added to at any time. When your kids are younger, you can have them add to the calendar when you pick them up from school. They’ll be sitting in the backseat anyway, so get them into a habit of downloading any important dates or notes to the calendar before the thought of school goes out of their minds.
Digital calendars can be especially beneficial when you have teenagers who have after-school sports and activities. They can add and update their schedules on their own time, and you’ll always know when you need to pick them up or when to expect them for dinner.
Create an out-the-door space
Have you ever had to run around looking for spare socks or an extra umbrella? Did you child forget where he or she left the backpack last night? Mornings can get hectic, so budget for that by creating an out-the-door space prepacked for any emergency.
Carve out a space in your mudroom or near the most popular entrance to your home. This could be in your garage, the laundry room or just next to the door. This transformation won’t take up much space, and it can save you a major headache in the morning.
First, hang hooks on the wall for your kids’ seasonal jacket, the ones they wear most often on their way out the door. Even if you have a separate coat closet, these hooks will make it easy for the kids to grab coats and jackets on the way out, and when they come home, they will actually hang them back up again — not drape them over a chair or lay them on the washing machine. You can cycle through these jackets as the seasons change.
Next, use storage baskets or plastic bins to pack away other seasonal gear. Pick up a few extra umbrellas and keep them in one specific box. Throw pairs of socks into another bin in case your child decides at the last moment to wear sneakers instead of sandals. Throw hats, gloves and mittens in another bin so everyone can grab and go.
So where do you put the storage baskets or bins? Pick up an ottoman or bench that offers storage inside and put everything in there. This gives your kids and easy place to sit down and take off their shoes, and it gives you extra storage.
Finally, add a small shoe rack for your kids most popular sneakers and shoes — and pack everything else away either in shoe boxes in their closet or a shoe rack that hangs over the door. Your kids probably cycle through one or two pairs of shoes throughout the week, so don’t create clutter by leaving out the once-in-a-while sandals that you know will get kicked around and stepped on.
With your makeshift mudroom, your kids will be able to grab what they need and get out the door quickly each morning. No more lost umbrellas or socks!
Pressure washing services for the house before back-to-school
Back-to-school signifies the end of summer and the start of fall — one of the best times of the year for pressure washing services. All summer long, your home has endured rain, splashes of mud and intense heat that has likely left streaks on your siding and mud caked onto the sides. That’s not uncommon for most Houston homes, but if you’re not planning to have pressure washing services, that dirt and grime could build up and do some damage to your home.
Now some people like to try to do the work themselves, but hiring an expert in pressure washing services is the best way to go. An expert knows the right amount of water pressure that should be used on your home. Your home is used to being pelted with rain, but that pressure usually isn’t enough to get into a home, unless there’s a hole or pre-existing damage. Water pressure that is too strong could cause damage or get into your home, causing water damage and giving mold a good environment to start growing.
An expert in pressure washing services will know the right pressure for your home and be able to target the dirt and other debris building up on your home. When a stream is too strong, it can even knock loose siding or shingles around the roof of your home. In some cases, pressure washing can even knock away paint. Now your home may be clean, but you’ll need to repaint. These can be expensive to replace, so an expert in pressure washing services will make sure the job is done right the first time.
Hiring an expert in pressure washing services will also get you a professional who knows what to look out for on a home, such as mold and mildew. Pressure washing services can blast away mold and mildew, but an expert can warn you if it looks like you might have a bigger problem.
Home organization matters for back-to-school, but the outdoors matter just as much as the interior. Tell us: How are you preparing for back-to-school? How can pressure washing services make your back-to-school a little easier?