I don’t want to make anyone groan by mentioning the phrase “back to school” during the summer break, but the start of the school year is sneaking up fast. The long hot lazy days of summer are mostly behind us and before you can even finish shaking the playground sand out of your kid’s shoes they will be back on the bus to school.

As much as I appreciate being able to relax and loosen up the routine over the summer; I also hate starting the school year feeling unprepared and spending those last few days of vacation in a mad panic. So here are some things to slip into your summer to do list, then you can send your kids back to school without that frazzled feeling.

You know that pile of artwork and crafts from last year that is still in a corner; now is the time to tackle it. Often just a designated tote is the easiest way to store artwork. Try using pocket presentation books to keep your kids’ best pieces of work from each grade together. They are quick to use and create an instant scrapbook. You are not going to be able to keep everything, so limit yourself to your favorites by the size of tote and number of pages in the presentation book. If some of the creations are too big to store, consider taking a picture and filing a copy of the photograph instead.

Book your kids in for their dental appointments, annual medicals and eye exams. Getting some of these regular appointments out of the way over the summer break is a lot less hassle than taking kids out of school during the year or trying to bribe receptionists to get that desirable 4pm appointment time.

Summer is a great time to do a big closet sort out. Hold a fashion show to work out what fits and what doesn’t. Keep clothes for younger siblings in a tote in the top of a closet or under the bed; then sell, consign or donate unwanted items that are still in decent condition. Finding clothes in the summer sales that are a size or two larger to wear next year can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Buying school supplies using the school’s recommended supplier is often the most convenient way to stock up. If you would rather buy your own, try to get hold of the supply lists for the next grade early so you can take advantage of stationary sales throughout the year. Remember to order kids’ name labels and set aside an evening to apply them all.

Take a few minutes to sort through lunchboxes, containers, drink bottles and recycle or dispose of any that have seen better days. Make sure you add any items you need to your next shopping list, so you don’t need to make a special trip to buy new. Check the condition of backpacks and replace if necessary; higher quality bags can be better value as they often last several years before looking tatty.

Plan time to get the last few errands done in the final week before school starts. Get haircuts, take a trip to buy shoes (indoor and outdoor), and stock up on lunchbox friendly snacks. Then stand back and smile as the bus rolls up.

Andrea Marson is the owner of Live Life Organized, based in Sherwood Park and a member of Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). She can be contacted at 780-267-2969 or via e-mail at livelifeorganized@outlook.com