Home Sweet Home Magazine - August 2021

A U G U S T 2 0 2 1


Breathe Easy! 6 Hacks to Eliminate Common Odors in Your Home Page 4

Learn how to do it yourself (and when to call a pro) Page 11 House Painting 101

Prep Your Garden for Spring Everything you need to know about fall bulb planting Page 7

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Summer is winding to a close, and before you know it, the kids will be back in school! It’s always a tough shift to go from the carefree fun of summer into a more regimented routine, but luckily, there are things you can do to ease the transition. In this issue of Home Sweet Home Magazine, you’ll find tips to get your family (and your home) ready for back to school. Learn how to prep your house for more seamless mornings and more productive evenings. Read tips on how to perfect your school day routine and reduce your stress. And before after-school sports drag unpleasant odors into your home, discover some natural solutions to keep your space smelling fresh! August is also the perfect time to start thinking about spring (if you’re a gardener that is). Planting bulbs in the fall will give you something to look forward to as the temperatures rise and the fruits (or in this case, flowers) of your labor start to poke through the ground. Inside, you’ll also find a guide to painting the outside of your home. You’ll discover tips for different applications and learn which parts of the project you may be able to tackle yourself and when to call in a pro. I also wanted to make sure you know I’m never too busy to work with any referrals you send my way. I can help them prepare their homes for sale and use marketing strategies to get the most money possible on their biggest investment.

I look forward to reconnecting with you soon and hope you have a great school year ahead!

Best wishes,

Agent Name ABC Brokerage

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04 07

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Prep Your Garden for Next Spring

6 Hacks to Eliminate Common Odors in Your Home Instead of using harsh chemicals, try these tips to combat odors in your home using safe, natural ingredients you likely already have on hand!

15 Your Guide to Back-To-School Success! This year, instead of being caught off guard and scrambling to get ready, do some prep work ahead of time to ease the transition.… Page 16 While not every morning and evening will be smooth, a general family plan goes a long way in keeping everyone on track and less frazzled.… Page 20 Fall is the ideal time to get a start on blooms that will rise out of the ground post-winter. Your efforts now will give you something to look forward to in a few months’ time.


Thinking About Doing Some Exterior Painting? There are multiple things to consider, from safety to paint type, but with a plan and a solid prep job, you’ll be sipping a cold one and enjoying the results before you know it.


Your home is your castle, and you work hard to keep it clean for your family. But daily life does happen — in the form of pet messes, cooking spills andmusty smells that tend to linger. Most people’s first inclination is to mask these unwelcome aromas with heavily scented candles or air fresheners that don’t actually solve the root problems. Plus, the chemicals used in these products can trigger a wide range of health problems, including allergic reactions, asthma attacks and migraine headaches. So, instead, try these simple hacks to eliminate common household odors using safe, natural ingredients you likely already have on hand! Eliminate Common Household Odors Using These 6 Hacks

1. Appliances Since we use our appliances on a daily basis, we often forget they can trapmoisture, trash and leftovers inside. This creates the perfect environment for offensive odors to form and permeate the atmosphere.

run a regular wash cycle using the hottest temperature setting. Once the dishwasher has cooled, remove the bowl. Next, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher tub and run the regular wash cycle using the hottest temperature setting once more. Do this every three months to keep your dishwasher odor-free and working at maximum efficiency.

soap residue get trapped in the filter. Newer models usually come equipped with a removable filter. Simply take the lower dish rack out, and you’ll easily locate the filter at the bottom of the tub. After soaking the filter in soapy water, rinse it well before replacing it. If the odor lingers, empty the dishwasher, then place a small dishwasher-safe bowl on the top rack. Fill the bowl with distilled white vinegar and

Dishwashers begin to emit a foul odor when food, grease and


Refrigerators most often give off a stench when leftovers have been pushed to the back and forgotten. First, look for any offending dish or rotting produce/ meat, then remove and dispose of it. If the smell persists, mix a 1:1 ratio of white, distilled vinegar and filtered or distilled water in a spray bottle; empty the refrigerator, and use the vinegar cleaning solution to clean and deodorize all refrigerator shelving, sides and doors. If the smell emanating from your fridge is caused by your selection of fish, salami, cheese or other highly fragrant foods, take a nylon stocking and fill it with fresh coffee grounds. Place it in the back of the refrigerator. This perky aroma will overwhelmmore abrasively scented foods. Freezers can soak up the pungent odors of meat, fish or freezer burn — none of which are particularly appetizing! Clean your freezer thoroughly, andmake sure all foods are properly sealed. Then, soak a few cotton balls in vanilla extract. Wipe the inside of the freezer with the cotton balls, and each time you open the freezer door, you’ll be greeted by the smell of vanilla ice cream! Front-Loading Washing Machines are more efficient than top-loadingmachines — as long as you use high-efficiency detergent each time you wash.

running and leaving the door open slightly between loads to allow the machine to air out. Dryers generally begin to give off a musty smell for one of two reasons: 1. You’re drying loads that are too large, causing longer drying times, which gives bacteria time to grow; or 2. There’s damp lint stuck in the vent. To get it out, remove the vent and use a vacuum to clean out the lint and any other debris caught inside.

If you don’t, soap residue can be left behind on the drum, which, combined with dampness, can create a breeding ground for mold andmildew. Avoid this problemwith your go-to solution — a combination of white vinegar and baking soda. Insert ¼ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of water into the detergent dispenser. Next, pour two cups of distilled white vinegar into the drum and run the machine for a full cycle. Other tips to help avoidmoisture build-up include removing clothes as soon as a load has finished


2. Drains If a pungent odor is creeping up through any of your drain pipes, reach for a bottle of apple cider vinegar. Just pour one-half cup down the drain, and the offensive stench will soon disappear!

5. Furniture & Closets Antique furniture and vintage cabinetry can add real character to a home. Unfortunately, older wood frequently has a musty smell, and the items you store inside these pieces can quickly become infused with that odor. Before storing anything in an older closet, cupboard or newly purchased antique chest, gather some newspaper and distilled white vinegar. Crinkle the newspaper up, and sprinkle it with the vinegar, then place the paper on the shelves or inside each area of the furniture. Leave it for two to three days until the smell has been absorbed. Keep

furniture drawers fresh by inserting scented dryer sheets. For closets, try wrapping a lavender or vanilla bar of soap in tissue paper and placing it on a shelf. Replace every 2-3 months. 6. Basements & Cellars Underground spaces like basements and cellars tend to smell musty following a hard rain. To fight mold andmildew odors, simply slice an onion in half and place it in your basement or cellar overnight. This quick fix will absorb all of those nasty smells by morning, leaving you with a space you and your family can use and enjoy once more!

3. Garbage Disposals

If your garbage disposal smells like, well, garbage, run a few orange or lemon rinds through for a quick refresher. To make sure you always have rinds on hand when you need them, save peelings in a bag in the refrigerator. To keep your disposal smelling fresh, do this twice a month. 4. Trash Cans Kitchen odors come fromnumerous sources, but a big culprit is trash cans filled with rotting food and waste. To keep your kitchen trash cans fresh, wash themwell with warm, soapy water and after rinsing, allow them to dry completely. There are a few options you can try: If you have a cat, sprinkle some scented cat litter on the bottom of the trash can before inserting the garbage bag. You can also use a layer of orange or lemon peels. Finally, you can place a couple of dryer sheets at the bottom of the can. Whichever option you choose, replace them every 30 days to keep your kitchen smelling clean and fresh.


Summer is the perfect time to enjoy long days, colorful annuals in your flower pots, and late evening pool time. But as the days get shorter and the leaves begin to change, those with a green thumb know it’s time to start looking ahead to spring. Fall is the ideal time to get a start on blooms that will rise out of the ground post-winter. Your efforts now will give you something to look forward to in a fewmonths’ time. Everything You Need to Know About Fall Bulb Planting

What are bulbs?

season. Most bulbs are perennials, meaning they return each year rather than dying off after a single season like annuals.

underground temperatures during winter months. This gives them the chance to break through dormancy and provide the best flowers.

Technically speaking, bulbs are any plants that store everything they need for a complete life cycle in underground storage. When discussing bulb planting, however, the definition often includes plants with tuberous roots, tubers, corms, and rhizomes. All of these varieties work in the same way, storing the needed nutrient reserves that allow them to burst out season after

Why are spring bulbs planted in the fall? Spring bulbs are planted in the fall so they can enjoy the cold

What are the advantages of bulbs? These perennials are versatile, so you can plant them in borders, wild areas, planters, or in beds.


they will not bloom, but rather be pushed further into the soil. Place the bulb into your prepared space with the roots facing down and the pointy end facing up. There is often a diagram on the packaging to show the correct placement. If you still can’t figure it out (some are tricky!), plant them on their side. Strong bulbs will find a way to the surface. Next, pay attention to the depth required for each bulb. Some will thrive in a few inches of dirt, while others should be buried eight inches or more. A reliable rule of thumb is to bury the bulb a depth that measures two or three times its height. Prepare the soil by loosening dirt across a large area for planting or by digging individual holes for each bulb. Supplement the soil to enhance its nutrients. You can use compost or a specially-formulated bulb fertilizer.

when the nighttime temperatures are consistently down to 40 or 50 degrees, about six weeks before the first freeze. You want the ground to be workable, but cool. This could land anytime between September and December. For warmer regions in planting zones 8-10, it will likely be December or January before conditions are ideal. If you have your bulbs but it’s not yet time to plant them, store them in an aerated bag in the refrigerator. Avoid storing them alongside fruits, like apples, that release a gas that is toxic to bulbs. Howdo you plant bulbs? The most important thing to remember when planting bulbs is that they have an ‘up’ and a ‘down’ side when they’re placed into the ground. If they’re placed incorrectly,

They are also easy to find and plant. Bulbs bring a lot of variety to your garden since they come in different shapes, heights, textures, and colors. They make great accents to other plants or canmake a stand-alone statement in your yard. Perhaps the best thing about bulbs is the surprise you get each spring when they break through the ground, bringing color and life after the dreary winter months. When should you plant bulbs? For the most part, bulbs are pretty forgiving when it comes to when you plant them. However, they can be a bit finicky about storage before they go into the ground. To know when to plant bulbs in your area, look up your planting zone. Zones 4-7 can be planted


Howdo I plant bulbs

Which bulbs require full sun? Most bulbs perform very well in full sun. That includes most traditional spring blooms. Tulips of every variety can create a painted landscape or eye-catching display. Look at Pretty Princess, Purple Flag Triumph, Peppermint Stick, and Parrot tulips for starters. Daffodils are another obvious choice, with fun options like Peach Bellini, Snow Drift White, Lemon Chiffon, Mount Hood Trumpet, andmany others to choose from. Crocus is one of the first bulbs to rise above the surface in the spring, blooming as early as late January in some regions. Look for Saffron, Pickwick Dutch, Snow, Zenith, or

Skyline for a mixed bag of colors and visual appeal.

in small spaces?

Hyacinth is another sun lover that comes in an assortment of colors. Check out the white Carnegie, richly colored Blue Jacket, cheery pink Jan Bos, and the striped Pink Pearl. Alliumnot only comes in a variety of colors but adds interest to any location. Its spiky spheres attract bees but keep other hungry animals away. Hunt down varietals such as blue Caesium, pinkish purple Unifolium, white Neapolitanum, and purple Sensation. Round out your sunny location with some Tecolote Salmon or striking Tecolote Gold Ranunculus, along with some Yellow Queen Dutch or Dark Blue Specie Iris.

You may have acres of land to plant your bulbs, or you may live in a small apartment with just enough space for small hanging planters. Bulbs don’t have a preference. One way to make the most of small spaces is to layer bulbs that bloom at slightly different times. As an example, you can start with a deeper, larger bulb such as daffodils or tulips. Add some dirt directly on top of them and plant something that blooms mid season, such as hyacinth. Top that withmore dirt, and plant crocus at a shallow level. Try to stagger the bulbs so they grow next to each other rather than into each other.


Which bulbs prefer shade? In truth, there aren’t many bulbs that require shade. There are, however, some that tolerate it quite nicely. Tulips, crocus and daffodils, for example, will rise to the occasion even without a full daily dose of vitamin D. Snowdrops performbest in cold winter regions and like moderate temps, too. However, they won’t perform in areas with extremely mild or warmwinters. Snowdrops are great for open areas since deer and rabbits will leave them alone. Scilla is another option that deer and rodents avoid. Although they’ll tolerate partial shade, they won’t bloom in complete shade.

Looking to the Future Just because the summer season is rolling into fall doesn’t mean you have to give up on outdoor time or colorful blooms in your yard. Instead, set aside a final planting session in the yard and give yourself something to look forward to when the warmer days arrive again.

Chionodoxa also prefers sun, but if you have a spot that only gets sun early in the season, this is a good option for you. Fritillaria will do well in full sun or partial shade. The Fritillaria Meleagris prefers dappled shade. Plant these bulbs in zones 4-8. Different varietals range in height from eight to 36 inches, and they come in an assortment of color options.


Whether it’s time to offer your home’s exterior a bit more protection or you just want to freshen up the curb appeal for yourself or resale, painting a house DIY style is an attainable goal for many people. There are multiple things to consider, from safety to paint type, but with a plan and a solid prep job, you’ll be sipping a cold one and enjoying the results of your efforts before you know it. How to Properly Prep and Paint a House

fade quickly, while fading on lighter colors will be less noticeable. If the new color will be significantly darker than the existing color, it will likely cover fairly well. However, if you are moving to a substantially lighter color, you may have a hard time achieving the look you want without the existing color bleeding through. If you decide to paint in a lighter shade, be sure to use a quality primer on the entire surface. Overall, the easiest color to apply will be one that closely resembles the current paint.



Evaluate When deciding whether or not to tackle the project yourself, consider what it will entail. The biggest concern is how you will reach all sides of the home, especially those on second and third stories. Walk around your home, and figure out whether a ladder will suffice or if you’ll need scaffolding to paint higher areas. If you’re comfortable, you can buy, rent, or build scaffolding. Otherwise you’ll want to hire a professional.

Choose your Paint Any paint store will be able to answer questions regarding your particular housingmaterial and preferred look. You’ll want to consider the weather in your area, as well as the type of siding you have. Brick, wood, stucco, and vinyl siding all require different types of paint to achieve the best result.

Also give careful consideration to your color choice. Bright colors will


very careful not to get too close to the surface of the house. Too much pressure can cause splintering and other damage, such as water beneath siding planks, so always approach the task with caution.

If the entire house is at this level of disrepair, you may want to hire a professional to handle the task. Otherwise, just work in one area at a time, heating the paint first to help release it. Play around with sandpaper or a power sander in small sections to see if it removes the paint. Most of the time, it gunks up the sander, so manual scraping is typically the best option, but it’s worth a try. Once the peeling paint is removed, sand the area.

Next, calculate the amount of paint you will need. Figure out the paintable area by measuring the width and height of each side, minus windows and doors. You can take your measurements to the paint counter and let themhelp. Tip: If you buy several one-gallon cans instead of, or in addition to, 5-gallon buckets, mix them together into a larger bucket. This will minimize the chance of noticeable shade variations between the cans.


Make Repairs Paint will not stick to rotting wood, and siding that is decayed or soaking wet will not offer protection for your home. Since you’re getting ready to paint, it’s the perfect time to replace any overly worn boards anywhere on the house. Pay special attention to boards along the roofline, corners of the home, and around windows and doors. While you’re evaluating the condition of your home, also look at window glazing and caulking and add a fresh layer anywhere it’s peeling or gapped. This commonly occurs around openings, but also look for gaps at the ends of siding planks.


Clean the Surface You may not even notice the

amount of grease and grime on the surface of your house until you get right up to it. But once you run a soapy rag across it or hit it with a pressure washer, you’ll see exactly howmuch your paint is hiding. Paint won’t properly adhere to a dirty surface, so a thorough cleaning is crucial for a long-lasting final result. Although it’s time and labor consumptive, you can wash the house with soapy water or TSP mixture, applied with a rag. From there, be sure to thoroughly rinse until there is no cleaner left on the surface.


Remove Loose Paint Now that the surfaces are clean and exposed, look for areas of peeling paint. For a quality finish, you’ll need to scrape any areas where paint is coming away from the surface.

A faster way to accomplish the same goal is to use a pressure washer. Be


With this inmind, tape off any areas that will be a different color. This might include the windows, doors, trim, garage door, or front door. Also wrap light fixtures, faucets, and other exterior features. Decide howmuch of a concern the surrounding plants will be. Getting paint on them is unsightly, but it will wash off eventually, so if it’s early fall, you may choose not to cover them. At least trimbushes and trees that are close to the house so you can access the building and so the branches don’t ruin your fresh paint. Bed sheets offer a quick way to cover bushes. You can also cover them in plastic sheeting and tape it around the bottom. Another way to protect them is to spray themwith a hose before painting and then check them afterward to see if they need a rinse.

paint, you’ll only need to cover the area directly below and around you. If you’re opting for a spray application, cover anything of importance within about 20 feet. Even slightly windy conditions can carry small paint particles onto the neighbors’ windows or cars on the street.


Protect the Landscape Painting is a messy job. To keep paint only where you want it, you’ll need to cover everything nearby. If you plan to roll and brush on your


Apply Primer Unless you’re making a big change from a dark color to a lighter one — or your home has a very damaged surface — an all-over primer probably isn’t necessary. Most paints have a basic built-in primer that will do the job —which is to help the paint adhere and hold the correct color. Any boards you replace will require a primer. Also be sure to hit spots where you’ve sanded or filled holes, and any areas with rust.


STEP 10:

different philosophies on where to start when applying paint. Some say to start with the main portion of the house and follow up with the detailed trimwork. This makes sense if your trimwill be darker and will cover up the overspray from the lighter paint of the house. Others argue you should start at the top of the house and work your way down regardless, especially considering you’ll likely drip on the side of the house while painting the trim. Either way, try to avoid working in direct sunlight, and don’t bother painting when it’s raining or scheduled to rain within a few hours. Start at the top of each side, working from side to side, slightly overlapping each brush, spray, or roller stroke. Be sure to apply paint to the edges along the bottom of siding planks. Step back occasionally, and look at your application from every angle to ensure you didn’t miss any spots. You may need a second coat depending on the condition of the siding and the type of paint you’re using.


Paint Trim and Doors

Choose your Applicator Each type of applicator has its pros and cons. Sprayers are undoubtedly faster than hand painting. Plus, they do a great job of applying paint to detailed architectural elements that can be challenging with a brush. However, it’s difficult to apply paint evenly without leaving thin spots and areas that drip. Overspray is also a significant factor with a sprayer. Brushes and rollers produce much less mess, and the paint job is generally more even and thorough. However, this method is time consuming and requires more trips to the paint bucket.

Now, it’s time to come back for the door and window trim, as well as the garage, front, and other exterior doors. To protect the new paint, tape around doors and windows as you work. Note: Be sure to establish whether your doors are wood or metal when selecting paint.

STEP 11:

Clean up and Grab a Refreshing Drink


Apply Paint When you set out on this project, you were likely focused on this step in the process. Actually applying the paint is the easiest andmost rewarding part of the job. There are

When you stop for the day, you can wrap your rollers and brushes in plastic wrap or plastic bags. Make sure to clean out the paint sprayer at the end of each session so paint doesn’t dry in the lines. When you’ve completed your house painting project, simply toss used rollers. Clean paint brushes well, and store them for the next occasion. Make sure the lids are securely attached to any paint cans, and store them properly to use for touch-ups down the road. Then grab a cold beverage and enjoy the results of your hard work!


Your Official



Even though we have all summer to get ready, back-to- school time always seems to sneak up on us. But this year, instead of being caught off guard and scrambling to get ready, do some prep work ahead of time to ease the transition. Prep Your House for a Smooth School Transition Set up your home for school year success! Create a plan for reigning in the paperwork, crafts, project deadlines, and lunch supplies. Controlling the chaos now will allow you to focus your energy on supporting your kids throughout the year.

Clean Up from Last Year

Set a goal to have no more than one large envelope of papers for each child. Label themwith the year, and keep them together in one area.

Have no fear. Tackling last year’s paperwork is easier once you’ve had some distance from it. This is especially true when it comes to artwork from the littlest hands in the house. Sort with discretion, only keeping report cards, meaningful projects, and a sample or two of handmade crafts. If you’re finding it difficult to part with items, take a picture of your child holding them and put that in a frame or album instead of holding on to each item itself.

Look, we’ve all been there. The kids come home on the last day of school, and everyone is grateful to be free of busy schedules and due dates. Backpacks are tossed into the closet, perhaps filled with end-of-year papers and artwork (and maybe even the remnants of an old school lunch).

Set Up the Drop Station You know what we’re talking about here. This is the spot where backpacks are tossed at the end of a long day.


Closer to the “drop station,” place baskets for outgoing paperwork. This includes permission slips, completed assignments not yet in their backpacks, doctors’ notes, and anything else on its way out the door. Also place an in-basket in a high-traffic spot —maybe next to the car keys —where kids can leave papers they needmom or dad to look at and sign. Get the Lunch Order in Order Let’s get real. Unlike the parents on TV or those who write organizational blogs for a living, real parents get through eachmorning with a disciplined combination of caffeine and sleep deprivation. There’s rarely anything organized about lunch. But there can be! Yes, really.

The key here is to create lunch zones in the kitchen. Designate one drawer or cupboard to everything non-refrigerated that can go into a lunch box. Snack packs and granola bars fit the bill. Once a week, break down larger boxes and bags of nuts, raisins, crackers, cereal, chips, etc., and put them into the drawer. In the same area, place a fruit bowl with grab and go options like mandarins, small apples, pears, and bananas. Make sure storage containers and baggies are in stock and easily accessible. Moving on to the refrigerator, establish a similar space (like a drawer or door shelf) exclusively for lunch items. Bag up individual servings of grapes, pre-sliced cheese, yogurt cups, applesauce, hummus, cut or mini carrots, julienned peppers, and pudding. When cleaning up dinner, put leftovers in individual containers if they’ll be heading out with the family the next day.

A good “drop station” includes room for hats, scarves, umbrellas, shoes, coats, andmaybe even a message board. Find a location that makes sense in your home — in an entryway, near the interior garage door, in a hall closet, or in a corner of the kitchen. Try to place the drop station close to the door so you can introduce good organizational habits on day one. Make sure each child has their own coat hook. Place a large basket or crock in the area for wet umbrellas. It’s great to have some sort of shelving for shoes, but a doormat works well, too. Check Pinterest for some creative storage ideas like lockers, floating shelves or hanging baskets. You can get the kids involved by allowing them to add their own personal touches with artwork, pictures or labels. Paperwork Don’t be a victim of paperwork overload. Instead, take a proactive approach. Label baskets or containers for each child. These can be placed in their rooms, in the kitchen, in an office or out of the way in a closet or on a shelf. The idea is to have an easily accessible place where your kids can drop completed school work, instead of leaving it around the house. Prepare for the


Create a Morning Checklist

The key is to have the system in place andmake sure everyone understands how it works before the school year begins. Set the bar at an attainable level so your student can realistically achieve success. Keep this a positive experience so your child looks forward to receiving points and learns to take initiative. Organize Notebooks and Folders Make sure your organizational plan carries over into school. Purchase labels, stickers, or markers to help your children label materials for each class. If they also need to have a notebook for each subject, match colors so both the notebook and folder are green for science, purple for history, blue for english, etc. Inside the folders, label the left side “To turn in” and the right side “Completed.”

a reward system. Set up a system that works for your family that gives “credits” for timely homework completion, a good attitude, or remembering to complete chores. At the end of the week, the child can choose from stickers or small prizes, if they’ve earned enough “credits.” You can also have bigger prizes for reachingmajor milestones, like a trip to the zoo or a new toy. Any type of board will work (dry erase, poster board or chalkboard). Another idea instead of writing out a list (or in addition to a list) is to pick fun objects you canmove from one cup or container into another to represent points. Every time they complete a chore, they canmove one of the objects over. Crank up the fun factor for young kids with hoops or rings they can slide over a straw, or balls they can shoot through a net into a basket. The options are endless.

Save yourself the torture of constant nagging in your morning routine by setting up a chalkboard or dry erase board with a checklist your kids can complete. The items on the list will vary depending on the age and capabilities of your children, but you can include tasks like feeding the dog, packing lunch, getting papers signed, double checking homework or taking out the trash. Implement a Reward System The goal is to help your kids become more independent. That means being responsible for themselves and their actions. One way to encourage good choices is through


Prepare for Emergencies Finally, make sure you’re ready to tackle situations when the kids are away fromhome. Refill any prescriptions, andmake sure there is a supply at home and in the school office or nursing station. This goes for things like epipens for food or bee sting allergies, but also applies to daily meds in case they forget to take thembefore school. Update your emergency contact list. You likely filled out school paperwork several months ago, so make sure doctor and dentist information is current, along with insurance information and all contact numbers and email addresses. Like anything worth doing, getting prepared for the school year means putting in some time and effort upfront. But with systems in place and everybody on the same page, school days can be more productive and less stressful for everyone.

Organize Email/ Communication /Texts It’s not only paperwork and school supplies that increase when school is back in session. It’s also the amount of communication from teachers and administrators. Figure out a plan to stay on top of the latest news and updates so you’re not chasing information a few weeks or months after school starts. Find the district’s Facebook page and follow it. Add the school’s office phone number to your phone. Add important emails to your planner and email address book, and add a folder for “School Stuff” where you can store emails as needed. If your student or students are remote learning, you won’t have to worry so much about lunch and clothing, but technology will be of utmost importance. In addition to making sure you have access to all essential contacts, it’s the perfect time to evaluate your internet service. If you’ve been considering a change to higher speeds or a different provider, make the change before the school year begins.

summer. Evaluate items you’ll need for the year, andmake a list of new clothing you’ll need to purchase. Teach older kids to be responsible for their own clothes — show them how to wash and put them away. Younger kids can feel a lot of anxiety about the process of picking out clothes each day. The smallest extra decision can sometimes be enough to derail an entire morning. Do yourself a favor andminimize the hassle by picking out clothes the night before. Be sure to include socks, shoe selection (considering if it’s P.E. day), and layers for cold weather. Even better, choose clothes for the week during the weekend. Look up the weather forecast together, and check the calendar for field trips or special occasions. Use the opportunity to talk about temperatures, teach planning skills andmemorize days of the week. With an idea of what the week looks like, put together outfits by grouping them on hangers or shelves.

Organize Clothes

Start by seeing what fits and what doesn’t. You’ll be surprised how much your child has grown over the


The last year has been anything but ordinary, and if your children haven’t had a normal school schedule for more than a year, the thought of returning to a regimented routine might be daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you re-introduce punctuality and planning into your life. While not every morning and evening will be smooth, a general family plan goes a long way in keeping everyone on track and less frazzled. Here are some tips for making it happen. Simple Tips for Easing into a Back-To-School Routine

Things to Do the Weekend Before The weekend is often less hectic for most families, so use this time wisely to prepare for the coming week. For smoother weekday transitions, we suggest tackling the following tasks on either Saturday or Sunday.

▶ ▶ Laundry - There will always be time-sensitive wardrobe disasters (we’re looking at you, grape juice). But for the most part, laundry can be done in bigger loads over the weekend to save you time during the week. While you’re putting away clothes, it’s a good time to pick out outfits for the week, taking note of any special events like picture day, gym class, a field trip or anything else coming up that week.

only eat bread with the crusts cut off or fruits and vegetables neatly cut into fourths? Take the time over the weekend to prepare these items for quicker meals during the week. It works for breakfast too — you can boil eggs ahead of time or prepare breakfast sandwiches to freeze andmicrowave throughout the week. Plus, dinner menu planning can take the guesswork out of evenings, as well.

▶ ▶ Lengthy Food Prep - Have a finicky child who will


What if School is Still Virtual? If the last year has taught us

▶ ▶ School Work Check- in - We’ve all been there. You’re ready for a quiet, easy night at home, when out of the blue, your child recalls a major project due...tomorrow! Rather than scrambling at the last minute, do a weekly check in with your kids about big upcoming projects. Ask them to go through their folders and planners to find anything they may have forgotten, including forms or permission slips that need to be signed. Make a habit of shopping for major projects and school supplies early so your kids have no excuse to wait until the last minute. Things to Do the Night Before Even if you prepare most things over the weekend, there are still some tasks you’ll have to do the night before school to make your mornings less chaotic. ▶ ▶ Pack Lunch - You probably guessed this would be here. Packing lunch the night before saves a lot of stress the next morning, and, if you prepared foods over the weekend, it will be even easier. ▶ ▶ Bathe or Shower - Have your kids bathe or shower

the night before school, and check one more item off your morning to-do list. As a bonus, studies show that bathing and showering at night can cool down the body and promote a relaxing night of sleep. ▶ ▶ Pick Out an Outfit - If you didn’t pick out a full week of clothes over the weekend, select outfits the night before. Check the weather for the day ahead, and lay out all the necessary accessories, including rain or snow gear if needed. ▶ ▶ Discuss Your Schedule for the Next Day, if Needed - Is the next day going to be different than other mornings? Is a different parent dropping off the kids, or does someone need to leave early for a meeting? Discuss your game plan ahead of time to avoid snags. ▶ ▶ Set Up Alarms, Breakfast and Coffee - Don’t let one malfunctioning alarmmean no one in your family wakes up until lunch. Set multiple alarms — and program your own alarm to go off earlier than the kids’ alarm— and set the coffee machine as well, so you’re awake and caffeinated by the time the kids roll out of bed. As for breakfast, have a two-fold plan, depending on how the morning goes. If you have time

anything, it’s that things can change rapidly, and there is always a chance school will be virtual again (or you might choose this option for your family). Is there a way to have a seamless routine even if no one is leaving the house? Absolutely. In fact, most of the tips in this article will work whether school is in person or online. If you and your children are still staying home by the time September rolls around, here are ways to stay on track:


Remind Everyone Timelines Still Matter - All of the tips about planning ahead for big assignments still matter. Even if school takes place at the kitchen counter, rushing will not produce great work. Respect Priorities if Space is Shared - When kids and adults are forced to share a workspace, it might become necessary to discuss who is able to use the space and when.


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▶ ▶ Let Older Kids Take Care of Things - If you have older children, let them take care of morning tasks, such as feeding a pet, putting their lunch together andmaking sure their backpacks are packed. ▶ ▶ Do a Mood Check-In - Talk to your kids and see how they are feeling about the day ahead. This simple dialogue can mean the difference between a rushedmorning where no one communicates and being aware of your child’s concerns. Furthermore, if there is something big coming up that your child is anxious about, this helps you stay “in the know” as a parent.

to make scrambled eggs and toast, great! But have granola bars and fruit ready, just in case.


Make Use of Weekends - The weekendmight not take as

Things to Do intheMorning Mornings have a reputation for being chaotic, but if you take time in the evenings and weekends to prepare, mornings can actually be pleasant and set the tone for your day. ▶ ▶ Avoid Devices - This is probably the most important tip for the morning. Phones, tablets and any other electronic devices are distracting and can keep anyone in the family from staying on task. Devices ideally should be put away the evening before and handed to the children (if necessary) upon departure.

much food and outfit prepping if school is at home, but Saturdays and Sundays can still be great for getting work done ahead of time, especially if the assignments are already online and space is tight.


What is Your Home

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