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A Better Back-to-School Plan

A Better Back-to-School Plan


Some simple moves now will spare you from 10 months of escalating aggravation.

By Laurie Palau


You’re forgiven for not noticing them here in the throes of camp season, or before you bolted out of town, but those blinking lights on the horizon, they belong to a school bus. Don’t tell the kids. Let them splash and run with abandon. Their day will come. But ours has arrived.

You’d think back-to-school prep would get easier in this digital age, but the backpacks only grow bigger and fuller as the school years pass. Before their contents explode all over your kitchen table, establish an order while you’re easing them—trying to, at least—back into their routines.

Reload ‘em. All those essentials—notebooks, pencils, folders—buy them now, and not just to cover their immediate needs; stock up for the entire school year. It’s never going to be cheaper. While you’re at it, try to anticipate their long-range needs—poster board, glue sticks, copy paper—and stockpile that stuff as well.

Hook ‘em. The sight of backpacks hanging across kitchen chairs or slung onto counters gradually gnaws at me until I finally detonate right around Thanksgiving break. Install hooks near whichever door they use most. It’s not foolproof, but shouting “Hang them on the hooks!” is a better solution than shouting “Get them out of here!” And, if it takes, it’ll spare you some headaches in the morning, too.

Corral ‘em. Kids are no different from us. Designate a corner the home classroom and they’ll be that much more productive. Make sure it’s out of the way (read: no TV in sight) and quiet. There should also be plenty of room to stow textbooks and ongoing projects.

Mobilize ‘em. Nothing says all that storage needs to assume the form of fixed shelving or desk drawers. Get creative and construct an art caddy that’ll stash all their supplies. The easy portability may even encourage them to dip into it just for fun. Either way, it’ll allow you to tuck it wherever it’s convenient.

Excuse ‘em. Kids are the world’s cutest kleptomaniacs. For no apparent reason, they’ll arrive home with someone else’s Minions lunchbox, jacket or pet turtle. Install a small basket right beneath the backpack hooks to keep them within easy reach for when their rightful owners come calling. The faster you can get them in and out, the less explaining you’ll have to do.

Laurie Palau is the owner of the New Hope-based simply B organized, a home and life organization service.

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