(BPT) – From school supplies and first day outfits, to lunch boxes and carpool schedules, back-to-school stress and to-do lists can seem endless. This time of year, moms and dads are feeling the pressure to get organized, no matter their natural tendency: neat freak, hopelessly messy or anything in between.
“As the summer sun begins to fade, that back to school anxiety creeps in for parents. There is so much to do and so little time,” says Debra Johnson, a Merry Maids home cleaning expert. “We want to make sure that all moms and dads – whether they work full-time, stay at home, are frantically busy or cool and laid back – feel equipped to get back in the school year groove.”
Back-to-school time is the perfect opportunity for parents to shift gears and reorganize. It all comes down to your cleaning personality type on how you handle it. Here are some expert tips for every type:
Neat freak: Messes go against your very nature, and this time of year can put your temperament to the test, not to mention your cleaning skills. Instead of stressing over where to stash the keepsakes your kids will surely come home with this year, plan ahead and create color coded files for each child. Send glue, glitter and other mess-making supplies to school in clear baggies. Stash a stain-removal stick in the backpack of older kids to pre-treat ink stains and make laundry less stressful. Do you ever run out the door without lunches? Fix that by setting a food prep day (Sunday afternoon) where you and the kids pack lunches and place them in a desired area in the refrigerator and pantry. Make it easy to grab and go each morning and keep those hungry moments at bay.
Closet stasher: A closet stasher may look like a neat freak, but don’t be fooled—their messes are hiding in the closets and under the bed. Take time to dig into storage areas and cabinets to create an organized space for the family. Use plastic bins or baskets with labels on the front to divide the games from the books, and create a special shelf where extra pens, paper and other school supplies can be kept handy throughout the year. Kids will appreciate the independence of knowing exactly where to go to get what they need for homework and school projects. And remember, your kiddos might be following in your footsteps so be sure to check under the beds and behind the headboards for any treasures they may be hiding.
Busy bee: When you’re juggling work, homework, after-school activities and home cleaning, some days it’s tough to even find matching socks. While the back-to-school season can heighten the chaos, it’s also a perfect opportunity to take control of the time you have. For example, have the kids put in the laundry while dinner is cooking, or encourage the kids to clean the dishes as you finish preparing dinner. Create a family calendar to keep track of everyone’s schedules, and place a whiteboard by the door to remind you and your kids of important things to take with you before heading out the door. Letting the kids lend a hand will help them feel empowered to do more as they get older.
Summer straggler: As vacation time comes to a screeching halt, a summer straggler usually waits till the last minute to kick back-to-school prep into gear. For you, it’s best to prioritize a to-do list, and check things off one by one. It’s OK not to get to everything right away, but keep making progress until your entire list is complete. Overwhelmed by getting your house in order and tackling that to-do list? Don’t be. Call a professional to help with the deep cleaning, so you can focus on getting the school year off to a great start.
Team player: From preschoolers to high school students, everyone is involved in getting the home ready for the new school year. Have the kids switch it up a little and take on each other’s chores, try something new or take on more responsibility. As kids get older, they are able to take on more challenging roles, from just folding towels to actually doing the laundry, or from setting the table to loading and unloading the dishwasher. Make it fun and keep things fresh by creating a handy helpers box; fill it with slips of paper highlighting various household chores and then let your kids pull out their assignments each week. Rewards are a great way to incentivize the kids to empty the box by the end of the school week.
With the right attitude and approach, you can make back-to-school time less stressful for the whole family. For more expert tips on home cleaning, visit merrymaids.com.