The end is in sight. Here in Maryland, we are less than a month away from the end of the school year and the beginning of SUMMER! With all the craziness of the year, it may have taken longer to fall into that school days routine, and just when you’ve got it down – BAM! Summer comes along to shake things up. When our routines change, it’s easy to start letting little things slip through the cracks. And, eventually, those little things add up to big headaches. So take these last few weeks of school to check a few things off the to-do list, get a head start on summer organization, and set up systems that will ensure things don’t fall apart in the off season.
Remember that this list is just inspiration; there’s no need to tackle all of this. Set your priorities and go from there. Pro-Tip: Get the kids involved. When they have ownership in the systems you are creating, they will be more likely to maintain them.
Summer Organization To-Do List:
- Create (or Refresh) a System for Artwork/School Papers
When your child returns home from the last day of school, their backpack is likely to be filled with a lot of paperwork and artwork from the year. Sit down as soon as you can to go through it all. Pull out the really special pieces to put in a memory box, and the rest can be recycled. (If your kids have a hard time letting go, you can display it temporarily until the novelty wears off, and then say goodbye.) Taking pictures for a photo book is another great choice to keep the memories without keeping the physical objects, especially for oversized items.
If you child is attending camp, you’ll likely continue to get artwork and projects sent home over the summer. Set up two bins, a “keeper” and a “recycle,” and immediately distribute papers when they come home. When either bin gets full, move the items to the recycling bin or a memory box. Practice with this system of the next few months, so you’ll have it down by the time school starts. Read my Solving Organizational Headaches blog for more on this system.
- Refresh Your Arts & Craft Station
With more time at home over the summer, kids need easy access to quiet activities (especially on rainy days). Storing your kids’ art supplies in clear containers helps them (and you) see where everything is. It also makes clean up easier, especially for younger kiddos who aren’t reading yet. Anything that needs supervision can be stored up higher.
- Organize Your Games
Board Games are another perfect rainy-day option. If the boxes are falling apart and you have a hard time keeping all of the pieces contained, consider removing your games from the original packaging altogether. You can use zippered pouches or project cases (both are linked in the images below) to organize your games. Don’t forget to label!
- Refresh Your Kids Closets & Bedding
Now is the time to go through your kiddos’ closets and pull out any fall/winter clothes. (While you’re in there, check sizes on any summer gear you’ve already purchased. See what holes are in their warm-weather wardrobe and make yourself a list.) If you are planning on passing down too small clothes, make sure everything is clean and put it in long-term storage. Otherwise, set them aside for a sale or for donation. Check out my Seasonal Closet Changeover blog for more tips.
It’s also a great time to refresh bedding, especially if you are switching to a lighter blanket or comforter for summer. Get duvet inserts or comforters washed and stored away for the season.
- Clean Your Outdoor Toys
If these have been stored in a shed or garage over the winter, they may need a little TLC. Put together our favorite recipe of Water, Bleach, and (powedered) Tide from Go Clean Co, grab a scrub brush and give them a once over. Alternatively, set up a “car wash” station with some dish soap and the water hose, and let your kids do the work for you!
- Take Notes on What Worked this School Year
Did having a homework station help you kids stay on task while completing their assignments? Was a snack or lunch-making station the key to stress-free mornings? Write down what worked this school year, especially if it’s something that will likely fall by the wayside over the summer. Then, when September rolls around, you can refresh your memory and get set up for success from the very start of the school year.
- Rotate Toys
Out of sight, out of mind. Keeping toys on rotation is a great idea for keeping things fresh and exciting, and it also means you can have fewer toys out at any given time. If this is a system you currently use, it’s a great time of year to swap things out. If not, set this up. Keep a bin in the basement or an infrequently-used closet for the “off-season” toys. Remember to make it easy for kids to get to (and put away) their own toys – they’re more likely to play with them. These cubbies from The Container Store are my favorite for play areas.
- Sign up for Subscription Boxes (or Make Your Own!)
A little surprise mail never fails to get kids excited. If you’re short on time to coordinate activities, sign up for a subscription box like Kiwi Crates. Most of these activities are STEM-related, making them both fun and educational. If you have more time available, you can make your own boxes each weekend, one for each day of the week if you’re really ambitious. A good Instagram follow for ideas is @themamanotes.
- Wash You Kids’ Backpacks
Obviously, this one has to wait until school is officially over, but it’s one you don’t want to forget to do. If the backpack still has life left in it, turn it inside out and pop it in your machine on the gentle cycle. Be sure to air dry. Get more tips in this article from Real Simple.
- Create a Family Summer Bucket List
It’s inevitable that at some point over the summer, you will hear the words, “I’m bored.” Be prepared! Sit down as a family and create a list of fun things you’d like to do before the kids head back to school. You can put smaller (last-minute friendly) activities on popsicle sticks to draw at random when boredom hits. Trips that require more coordination can be scheduled now. Keep in mind that many places are still requiring tickets and timed entry, so more activities may need to be planned ahead of time. This is a great task for Saturday mornings – get set for the week ahead!
Once you’ve gotten a head start on summer organization projects, the the fun can begin! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you are the first to know when the next blog hits the website; it’s all about my tips for Surviving Summer with Kids! You won’t want to miss it.