The summer is winding down, which means it’s that time of year once again. Across Chicago, families are getting ready for the little ones to head back to school – and for the older students to head back to college!
Whether this is your first time sending a student off for a semester of dorm life, or you’re an experienced pro at saying goodbye, the back-to-school rush never seems to get any easier.
For one thing, there’s the emotion of it all. That first goodbye can be tough – and the second, third, and fourth can be just as difficult! Just as rough? More often than not, getting your scholar ready to head back to their university of choice is going to come with a major to-do list. Whether your college student is heading off for the first time or getting ready for a new semester, the last few weeks before class starts are sure to be a whirlwind of packing, moving, shopping, and organizing, which can leave a true mess in its wake.
Once your child is back in school, you’ll have more time back to explore your hobbies and enjoy every second of the day. For now, though? Your focus is on keeping your home balanced, healthy, and, above all, clean.
Here are a few ways to keep your home clean, organized, and functional as your college student heads back to class, so you can focus on saying your goodbyes — and making that “empty nest” feel full of comfort and love:
1.) Keep the Mess Contained
For many teens and young adults, “packing” really seems to mean “throwing stuff everywhere.” In the weeks leading up to a new semester of college, your home may get overtaken by your student’s gear, as they empty out their drawers, load up on new dorm supplies, and take last semester’s stuff out of storage.
During this chaotic period, take some simple steps to keep the mess to a minimum. One effective step may be to set up designated staging areas around your home to help reduce the overwhelming wave of clutter that’s sure to come. For instance, keep the mini fridge and dorm room furniture in the garage; set up temporary storage for clothes in your child’s bedroom; make the guest bedroom a home for bedding and towels, and so on. Encourage your student to keep things organized, and build a checklist to help prevent any last minute scrambles on the day of the big move.
As your young adult starts packing and organizing, they may also stir up quite a mess. Dusty furniture, piles of dirty laundry, sand and grass clippings from the sports gear that’s been hanging out in the closet… Need we say more? If it’s possible, try to keep up a regular routine of dusting and vacuuming, to help keep the dirt and grime to a minimum and make your house feel more accessible as your college student prepares for class.
2.) Help Give Your Whole Home a Fresh Start
As your college student is getting ready to head back to school, they’re going to be doing a lot of packing and reorganizing. Why not join them, and take that same spirit to your whole home?
In the weeks leading up to move-in day, help your student take an inventory of what they have, and divide their things into a few different categories — for instance, what they’re taking to school, what they’re leaving behind but want to keep, and what they should get rid of.
This period can be a great time for decluttering your student’s old clothes and outdated things, donating and giving away what you can and disposing of the rest. Why not join in on the fun? Use your child’s packing and organizing as inspiration to do some decluttering of your own, focusing on your bedroom, the home office, the kitchen, or any other spaces you want to tackle. One effective way to declutter is to focus on one thing at a time, working through by category (such as “clothing”) and then breaking each goal down into subcategories (shirts, pants, etc.). Lay out what you have, and don’t forget to divide your piles into “toss,” “recycle,” “sell,” and “donate” to avoid excess waste.
Joining in on the back-to-school decluttering process yourself can make the whole thing seem less stressful, and help keep your young ones motivated.
3.) Focus on Reorganization
After getting rid of what you and your kids don’t need, take some time to create a strategy for all the stuff you are keeping, and get ready to take on home organization like a pro.
In addition to keeping your student’s items organized during the busy weeks of packing, spend a little bit of time looking over your space, looking for new opportunities for storage and reorganization. Once you’ve helped your star student move and arrange their dorm room, come back home and apply the same space-saving principles to your own place!
For instance, you could try to have a designated space for every last thing in the home. Get into a regular practice of putting things away in their designated spaces immediately after you use them, to help cut down on daily messes and make your home feel more calm and orderly.
Whether your student is leaving behind a little or a lot, your home is bound to have some new spaces and areas open up once they head to class. Get creative, and have fun figuring out ways to focus on organization! Jazz up your storage methods with beautiful storage boxes, canisters, jars, shelving units, and think about ways to create storage that fit into your home decor, for a unified look with a touch of personality.
4.) Create a Plan for Your Child’s Bedroom, and Other Key Spaces
Is it time to redo your student’s childhood bedroom, or keep it clean and tidy for their return on winter and summer breaks? Keeping your student’s bedroom as-is for a while can help ensure that they have a place if they need to come back, whether for a short stay or a long one. At the same time, it can help ease the transition for students nervous about moving away for school
“It’s important for the child to know they still and always will have a place to land back at home,” explains Better Homes & Gardens home editor Amy Panos. Leaving your student’s bedroom alone for a few years can help give them a warm and inviting place to return to, and to let them know that even though they’re away, they’re still a major part of the family. In the short-term, though, do take care to keep this space clean and functional by regularly dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning mirrors and other surfaces, so this room is comfortable and ready to go whenever your college student makes their return.
Now, with that said? If you’re finally an empty nester, you may have big dreams about creating a special new space for yourself — say, a guest room, new office, an art studio, or maybe even a meditation room. Now that your student is off at school, take some to reconsider your home’s spaces, and see if there are ways to restructure your home to make it even more functional, or create the bonus area you’ve been dreaming of. This could mean moving a younger kid into a new bedroom, perhaps.
Or is your student’s old desk in the office no longer necessary? Maybe you can repurpose this area, and make it more useful for your day-to-day. Have you finally gotten rid of all the toys and games taking up room in the basement? Maybe now you can finally create the yoga studio or meditation space that’s been on your mind for years! The options are limitless, so get creative!
Sweeping Dimensions is Here for Every Step of the Way
Whether your child is headed off to their first day of kindergarten or packing up for their new dorm, there’s always a mad dash of things to do and chores to take care of. You don’t have to go through it all alone! When you need help with your back-to-school to-do list, Sweeping Dimensions is ready to step in and make things easier.
Bringing on a professional cleaning service might just be one of the most important steps you can take to keep your household up and running, particularly during big family transitions. A student heading back to school can put a strain on your household; keeping up a regular routine with the help of a local professional cleaning service can help make things simpler and more streamlined, at every step of the way!
This fall, let Sweeping Dimensions help make sure that your cleaning and organizing to-do lists get done!
At SDCS, we always make a sweeping effort to make life less stressful. With a professionally trained and uniformed staff, all of our cleanings are fully customizable to meet your unique needs. We bring all of the cleaning supplies and equipment needed to clean your home, with a focus on green, environmentally sound cleaning products. We also offer flexible time windows, perfect for busy working parents.
Want to trade tips and tricks with other parents and cleaning aficionados? Join our community and keep the conversation going on Facebook or Instagram! Ready to call in the pros, and cross “cleaning” off of your home checklist? Get in touch today for your free service estimate!