Get Your House Back in Order for Back to School

By Cheryl Reed

August 17, 2013 4 min read

Back to school can be an exciting time for your children, as new teachers, friends and classes are introduced into their lives.

For their parents, though, it can be stressful. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. Whether it's buying school supplies and new clothes, getting back-to-school haircuts or organizing the house again after a long summer, the list is endless.

If you fall in that category, it may be time to call a professional organizer to help with the load.

"After running around the house all summer, now (August and September) is a good time to tidy up the house," said Mary De Martin, owner of Mary's Home Services in Sacramento, Calif. "It's a good idea to go through and see if things do not fit anymore and get rid of the clutter."

A professional organizer can offer suggestions on what areas of the home — whether it's the kitchen, bedroom or garage — can benefit most from being organized. They can also recommend where to put schoolwork and supplies.

"I think it's important to find an area for each child so they can drop off their books, papers and everything that needs to be signed," said Ruth Ellen Huebner, owner of Get Organized! in Houston. "When they're leaving in the morning, they know where everything is. Another thing I recommend is laying out clothes the night before so there's no hassle in the morning."

Here are a few additional tips experts recommend:

— Sift through the kids' clothing, giving smaller clothes to siblings, friends or charitable organizations. Eliminating clothes that are no longer needed will free up space in bedrooms.

— Keep the backpacks ready with supplies and homework, and clean them out at the end of each day.

— Make sure your child has a desk in their room that is well-lit so they can do any homework there.

— Keep a family planner to serve as a master schedule. A month-long calendar will let each family member know what everyone is doing.

— Get rid of any toys the kids do not play with anymore.

Your kids will inevitably come home with more paperwork and artwork than you know what to do with. De Martin said parents are naturally attached to such work and want to keep everything. She recommends, though, keeping only their favorite pieces and putting them on the refrigerator, or making a scrapbook to store such work.

Huebner, meanwhile, is a proponent of using tubs and bins.

"Large tubs come in all sizes, and they can hold all of your kids' paperwork and artwork," Huebner said. "At the end of the year, you and your kids can go through the tubs together."

The average price for a home organizer is usually $30 to $80 an hour.

Unlike many service providers who are called to make a fix in the home, do the work and leave, it's important that you work closely with an organizer each step of the way. They can make suggestions, while you offer your feedback about what you like and don't like.

Remember, an organizer will be in your home going through your personal items, so you want someone you can trust. Ask for references, take the time to get to know them, and look online for any reviews.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, the nation's most trusted resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. To find out more about Angie Hicks and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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