Summer has arrived. Parents and kids are equally exhausted after several weeks of end-of-the-school-year events, and now, it’s finally time to relax. Right? Well, sort of. Although I highly recommend relaxing as much as you can this summer, it’s also worth investing some time getting your kids’ rooms and belongings organized. To avoid cramming all the work into the last week of August, spend a little time each month working with them to get things in order. Here are a few ideas for how to get it done.
If you haven’t already, go through your kids’ dressers and closets and remove anything they won’t wear during the summer. Store offseason clothes in bins under the bed or on a shelf in the closet. Clearly label the bin so you don’t forget about it between now and October. And although this might require some scouting around the house, also take stock of their shoes, sweatshirts and jackets. Gather items they’ve outgrown so they can be given away, tossed or donated. Put the items for donation in a bag and take them to be donated within the week. If you’re giving things to a friend, neighbor or relative, arrange a time when they can be dropped off. Don’t let them sit in your dining room for three months. And while it’s fresh in your mind, make a list of clothing items or shoes you need to buy to get your kids through the summer.
As tempting as it might be to just put the bag of school papers and backpack in a closet and forget them, resist the urge. You’ll thank yourself later. Spend 30 minutes picking out a representative collection of items to keep. This might include big projects or papers, several pieces of artwork, report cards, notes from teachers and performance programs. Gather the items in a box, label it and put it away. I like to include my daughters’ report cards, school pictures and class pictures in this collection. If you find yourself swimming in art projects, send a few pieces to grandparents or check out one of the many apps that can help you organize and preserve kids’ artwork. Also, clear off school and sports schedules from bulletin boards and from the refrigerator and update calendars for summer.
I also like to go through my kids’ bookshelves to cull their collections. There are a lot of classic books and favorites that I keep, but the paperback series that they’ve read and won’t revisit, I box up to give to friends, the library or a local elementary school. Although I love the idea of my kids having huge libraries in their rooms, the truth is that they get overwhelmed if there are too many books and they can’t find what they want. This is also an opportunity to talk with them about their favorite books from the school year and about what they would like to read over the summer.
Summer is also an opportune time to take a look at the decorations and furnishings in your kids’ rooms and consider updates. Would you like to update the art, add more bookshelves and a desk, or retire old, worn-out carpet? I’m not suggesting a full overhaul, but now is the time to consider changes that you would like to make before the school year begins, especially if some of the changes will require a little lead time – such as painting the room or finding a new piece of furniture.
And last but certainly not least, it’s a good idea to go through those drawers or bins in their rooms that have been the depository of everything, whether containers of slime, rubber balls, pens, notebooks, marbles, plastic animals and who knows what else. Ask your kids which items they can part with and discuss the best way to organize the items they want to keep.