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Get organized for school year

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Hollie Sehrt, Scripps Howard News Service

The calendar may start on the first of January, but for families with school-aged children the real New Year is the day your kids head back to school.

With new (and sometimes clashing) schedules, long lists of things to buy, and lots of events, keeping it all straight can be quite a headache. If you are the only one getting the household ready for this big event, you will surely have a meltdown before the first class bell rings. To save countless mishaps and stress this fall, we encourage you to make getting back to school a true family affair.

Alicia on "spring cleaning"

Who says that spring is the best time to clean? By the time August rolls around summer activities like swim teams and camp sessions are winding down, and children are bursting with energy. I use this time to get my daughter's room and closet organized. She has outgrown many of her clothes, and some of her stuffed animals are outdated and dusty. It's amazing how much needless stuff can accumulate in your children's rooms. Back to school is a great time to teach kids how to muster up the courage to toss things that no longer work and donate the things they no longer need. Teach them the one year rule: If you have not used it in 12 months, chances are you never will. That is a life lesson never too early to instill.

Sarah on "get the gear"

Back to school shopping can turn into a frantic rush to swoop up the last pink binder if you wait too long. I shop at least two weeks before classes start to have a peace-of-mind shopping experience for school supplies. This can turn what could be a two-hour shopping trip into a 30 minute one! The essentials include a sturdy backpack, old-fashioned number two pencils, lined paper, binders, erasers, and rolls of quarters for lunch money. To avoid a second trip, contact your kid's teachers for a detailed list of what they need. Make sure to bring the kids with you so that they can choose their favorite colors and styles.

Get everyone on schedule. Here are three easy ways to help get the family ready for the new school year.

1: Bedtime

To avoid cranky kids when school starts, get them on a routine sleep schedule before classes begin. Two weeks before classes begin, have everyone go to bed at a regular school year time. Try getting everyone asleep by 8 p.m and awake by 7 a.m. An added bonus: You and your husband will get a few extra hours to relax and enjoy the summer nights.

2: Family calendar

One of the hardest things to keep track of is the family calendar. This year, to keep from missing important events, make sure everyone's schedule is on the master calendar. Don't get stuck tracking down every detail in your kids' lives! Make every family member put his or her "important dates" into the calendar (every week). You can be sure to catch your son's soccer playoffs this way. We recommend keeping this calendar in the control center of your home — the centrally located place in your home with a large flat surface where information flows into and out of your home. Our tip — have everyone use a different color pen. If your family is technologically savvy, try using an online calendar, Google's is great. Reminder alarms and electronic invitations are just some of the perks of going digital.

3. Create a family bulletin board

A family bulletin board on the playroom wall can help organize everything from school lunch menus to special projects, school picture day, and invitations so that they don't become hidden under old magazines in the living room. Having a "posting place" helps determine what to hang up and what to pitch to minimize clutter.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com. For more columns go to scrippsnews.com.