Professional Organizing: Back to school prep

We all agree that summer goes by way too fast. But when you become a parent of school-aged children, it seems that time doubles in speed and flies by. No sooner has the school year ended than you get a new list of school supplies for the upcoming year.

Here are 5 valuable tips from a mom of four children and a professional organizer to help you get ready for back-to-school with confidence and ease.

School supplies: save money!

Summer is almost over, and we all know what is starting to haunt parents: school supplies!

The stores bring us back to the harsh reality that we need to start buying school supplies. The flyers tell us about discounts, and we know it would be wiser to check the prices to lower the bill, but do you really need to buy everything on the list?

Chances are that your home already has a lot of the items suggested.

Take a box and mark it with your child's name (ideally one box per child). At the end of each school year, empty the binders and duo tangs. Keep what can be reused and either recycle or throw away the rest. Once you have the list of school supplies, stick it to the inside of the lid. Once you are ready, look inside the box and check off what you find. Then shop your house and finally, buy the rest.

Save yourself a lot of time, money, and hassle!

Install hooks

Have you noticed that the hall closet seems to be shunned by family members? Do they prefer to leave their school bags on the floor because they are tired after a day of school?

Install easy-to-reach hooks so that family members can put their backpacks, purses, and keys neatly and easily as they enter the house.

This way, you'll gain a clear entrance, just by freeing up the floor and stair railings!

Remember to secure the hook with anchors

Visual cues

In the midst of routine, forgetting things is almost inevitable. Identify the most common oversights and get creative with visual reminders.

Print a picture of a reusable bag and stick it over the place where you hang your keys, so you'll remember to grab them before you go to the grocery store!

Do you feel like you're constantly repeating the same thing to your kids? Make your life easier by printing visual reminders that will speak to your kids (and teens) for you. A handwashing sign above their entrance hook will remind them to wash their hands when they get home from school.

Cold weather: Plan ahead!

Cold weather means a mad dash to get dressed in the morning and, of course, the traffic!

Finding a way to reduce these time-consuming hassles is critical to a parent's ability to be in control of their schedule and their daily life - and their sanity.

Be prepared! Get a head start and do the big sort even before school starts. Gather all fall items on a large surface. Separate it all in big categories: hats, neck warmers, etc.

Then tackle one pile at a time. It's easier to sort when you know exactly what you own. Throw away what's broken, stained or overused. Donate what may still be used. Keep only a reasonable and necessary amount of fall clothing. How many neck warmers does each child need? Two or three is reasonable, since some children tend to lose them, but more than that is valuable space being wasted.

Once you know what you want to keep, get one basket or box per category make sure you don't mix them together! Put all the items you want to keep in it. Set them up in the entryway, remove the lids to make storage quicker and easier. Print out images that you can stick on the boxes to identify their contents, it will be a breeze to put away!

Never again will you be rushing back and forth getting ready in the morning! And maybe you'll even have time to leave a little earlier and skip the traffic!

The family calendar: A must!

Between the little one's karate lessons, the second one's singing lessons and the dentist's appointments, it's impossible to remember all the details.

The family calendar is really a must to avoid oversights!

They are available in paper or electronic format, depending on your preferences. But I recommend to stick to one calendar to avoid mistakes and oversights that can occur when trying to update them all.

It will allow you to record everything and plan your schedule so that everyone in the family is well organized.

Most family calendars available in stores contain stickers to make planning easier. A little drawing of dad and mom to identify shared childcare, a little tooth for dentist visits and party icon for birthdays, and many more. Nothing will slip through your fingers anymore! Visit the school's website to find the school calendar and write down all the pedagogical days and holidays on your family calendar.

The secret to a stress-free back to school period is inevitably to get ahead of the game and plan well so that you can kick back and unwind during summer!

As a professional organizer and owner of TheSimpleWay, Pascale Chenard is passionate about finding solutions to simplify your daily life. She loves to share the tips and tricks she has implemented in her own life, with her clients and MList readers.