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easy ways to declutter for back to school

Just when we get into the swing of summer—wham! It's time to head back to school. The best way to ease the transition from flip-flops to desktops is to get organized and decluttered before the very first day. While getting organized may seem like a lot to tackle, there are small steps you can take now to ensure a smooth, stress-free transition to back to school.

Here are seven simple tips to clear the clutter and get ahead before the new school year starts:

1. Grab a dry erase board

To kick the school year off to an organized start, try putting a dry erase calendar where everyone can see it. Not only does it help young minds remember what and when schoolwork is due, but it also removes the stress of having to ask kid's 10 times: "Do you have your …?"

2. Purge last year's paperwork + artwork

Before the onslaught of this school year's homework and artwork, make sure you declutter from last year. Pull out all of the homework and artwork from the previous school year (empty old backpacks, desk drawers and those piles you've meant to tackle) and pick the best of the best.

Items like that great poem they wrote for you on Mother's Day or their first long report on what they want to be when they grow up are great keepsakes. Pare down to a small but significant representation of their best work and let the rest go. To declutter even more, consider creating art books out of the very best of the best.

3. Don't be afraid to donate

Before the deluge of birthdays, birthday parties and upcoming holidays, take time to donate (or toss if they are broken) toys that didn't get played with all summer. If letting go of toys is difficult for your kid, try the halfway there approach.

Sort the toys into four piles—keep, donate, trash, and not quite yet. Box up the "not quite yet toys" and put them in a closet or garage. Tell your kids if they really miss the toy and want to play with it, it's right there. However, chances are, out of sight, out of mind, especially with all the homework coming their way.

4. Especially backpacks

Most kids get brand new backpacks every school year, but, if last year's pack is still in good shape, think about donating it to a local nonprofit that works with foster kids. Use this opportunity to teach your children that if they aren't using something, maybe there is someone who could use it.

5. Purge books that won't get reread

Did summer reading lists create a glut of books in your home? Time to do a purge of the books that won't get reread or won't ever be read. Of course, some classics and favorites will be kept, but find a younger neighbor or friend and pass gently used books onto them.

6. Evaluate which clothing fits

Do a pass and make a pile of clothes you think are too small or worn out. Have your kids try them on to make absolutely sure if they've outgrown them or not. If there are younger siblings or cousins, put together a hand-me-down box.

7. Stock their desk only with the necessities

An organized desk is essential for a new school year. Make sure the desk is stocked with all of the necessary supplies like pencils, pens, erasers and paper. Make sure everything has a place so your kid can find it when they need it and better yet, put it away when their homework is done.

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