Summer is upon us! With a new season come new needs for organizing. Here are twenty things you can do to keep things running smoothly throughout the season.
- Designate a spot for wet bathing suits and towels. Ideally, the bathing suits hang near where they are removed, and the towels are somewhere near the door to the home or the washing machine. If you have a pool, consider hooks or a free-standing rack nearby.
- Set up a container or two outside for small play toys such as buckets, shovels, bubbles, balls, etc. A mesh bag, laundry basket, or large bucket with a few holes drilled for drainage all work well.
- Decide where bicycles should be parked. Hanging them up is probably too much work for the busy season. Instead, allocate a section of the garage or some other covered space. Additionally, tell children where to put their helmets, and label each helmet clearly. Helmets can be hung from the handlebars, hung from a hook, or placed on a shelf near the bikes.
- Keep a few extra towels in the car to cover the seats when riding home in a wet bathing suit. Another handy item is a zipper bag for carrying wet bathing suits home if you change while you are out at a pool or beach.
- Label everything with your name so each item is easier to locate in “lost and found”: reusable water bottles, towels, goggles, hats, toys, pool bags, etc. You can write on items with a Sharpie™ or even use return address labels for items that won’t get wet (e.g. golf clubs).
- Give older children a beach/camp/pool bag of their own for their water bottle, goggles, toys, and snack. Mom shouldn’t have to carry everything.
- Set up a spot for “outdoor dining” supplies: plastic dishes, cups, stemware, grill tools, paper products, etc. It’s nice if they can be near the door that leads to the dining area. Another option is a weather-proof bin that lives near your outdoor dining surface. If you use a charcoal grill, consider getting a bin with a lid that will keep the charcoal dry.
- Establish a shelf or bin near the door for sunscreen and bug spray. This way, family members can step outside to apply the products and tuck them back in place before heading off. It’s also a good idea to keep an extra one of each in the glove compartment or center console of your car for those “out and about” needs.
- Designate a rack, tray, or bin for sunglasses near the door. Move winter supplies out of the mudroom/entry if you need the space. This is a good time to remove singleton gloves & mittens, stained items, torn pieces, and garments that no longer fit. Snow boots can also be removed until the fall.
- Fill a bucket with sand for storing garden tools. This is handy when your tools are damp. Just stick them upside down into the sand and it will help to keep them from rusting. If you are short on shelf space, garden and work gloves can be hung with a clothespin that has a hook.
- Consider a new “summer chore” list. Summer – when children may be less programmed than during the school year – is a good time to teach children a new skill: how to run a load of laundry, how to water the garden, how to cook a dish or a meal, how to clean a space in the house, etc.
- Set up a box or bin in the garage or on the floor of a closet for “clothes to donate.” When a family dons a garment from last year and it no longer works (too small, missing a button, no longer appeals, etc.), tell them to drop it in the box. Non-clothing items can go into the bin as well. When the container is full, toss it in the car and drop it off at a local charity or schedule a pick-up (e.g. www.scheduleapickup.com). This is also a handy place to place items that didn’t get used or worn over the previous year. If the parent wishes to retrieve an item from the bin for use by a future child, he or she should do so quietly. We want to encourage children to let go of whatever they no longer want!
- Create a summer calendar where family members (who are old enough) can see what the plan for the day is. Add activities, vacations, camps, special events, playdates, meal out, etc. If summer reading or supplemental learning is a part of the day, record this on the schedule as well. Your calendar can be anything from a giant dry-erase board on the wall to a digital calendar to which family members have access.
- If you are going on a driving vacation, pack a pop-up hamper or two. These are helpful to corral dirty clothes, hold toys, tote linens, and more. Also handy to have along are a couple of nightlights for those times when you are moving around in the dark in an unfamiliar space.
- Clear your bulletin board and files of anything that is no longer relevant or no longer important. This creates space for new things on the horizon.
- Take advantage of warmer weather to do a deep dive into your storage unit. Pull everything out, get rid of whatever you no longer need/want, and reset the space. Add shelving if you don’t have any (simple plastic shelves or rolling wire racks work well).
- Cull your toy collection. With kids playing outside, now is a good time to sweep through accumulated toys, art supplies, craft kits, etc. Remove what is broken or not being played with. For more tips on organizing children’s spaces click here.
- Make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit. Another smart idea is to enter the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222) into your cell phone.
- If you are traveling, conduct the “two weeks and counting” plan:
- Confirm all travel reservations.
- Make dinner reservations for when you are away. If you wait until you arrive you may find that the restaurants are already booked. The same applies to extra excursions, event tickets, museum tickets, etc.
- Arrange for care of your home, pets, and plants.
- Renew prescriptions so you have enough to last for the duration of your trip.
- Start eating down your perishables.
- Establish a packing area where you can place whatever you think of that you might want to bring along. For more information on packing for a vacation click here.
- Tag photos with a keyword or two to make them searchable and easily organized, such as “beach trip 2021” or “Sarah’s 3rd birthday.” Remember to back up your photos to a hard drive and/or cloud storage. Remember, posting on social media is fun, but it isn’t a backup.
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Summer is meant to be enjoyed and always goes too fast. What summer organizing tips do you have to share?