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10 Things to Clean Out Now That the Kids Are Back in School

Now that the kids are back in school, you might notice a bit more, er, clutter around that didn’t seem to be there before class let out for summer.

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And it’s bound to happen. I know we picked up some additional “toys” this summer. From new craft supplies to outdoor games to sidewalk chalk galore and endless bubble accessories — my home inside and out is pretty much this:

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And, you know what? I don’t like it. Clutter gives me anxiety. Which is why these tips from Tracy McCubbin, founder of dClutterfly, are awesome. Now is the perfect time of year to get organized — and here are 10 areas of your house she recommends you start with.

10 Areas of Your Home to Organize When the Kids Go Back to School

1. Last year’s stuff. Before the onslaught of this school year’s crush of homework and artwork, make sure you have decluttered last year’s!

After a summer of “I’m bored,” you’ll have a great idea of what toys your kids really play with. Time to donate (or toss if they are broken) toys that didn’t get touched. And don’t forget the holidays (more stuff!) are just around the corner. Did you know that 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally?

2. Your bookcase(s). Did summer reading lists create a glut of books in your home? Time to do a purge of the books that won’t get read again or won’t ever be read. Also, return the overdue library books!

3. Your craft supplies. No doubt you bought some new school supplies — and probably still had a few leftover from last year. Go through all those drawers and cabinets that you keep them in. And see if you can find a fun way to upcycle them!

4. Closets. Running around in bathing suits and sprouting up like weeds means your kids have outgrown a lot of last year’s clothes. Time to do a deep dive on their clothes and donate the clothes they don’t wear or can’t fit into any more. Plus, you’ll then have plenty of room for back-to-school clothes shopping.

5. Old backpacks. Most kids get new backpacks for each school year. If last year’s pack is still in good shape, think about donating to a local nonprofit that works with foster kids. Use this an opportunity to declutter backpacks, duffle bags and suitcases.

6. Sports gear. Everyone is back at or has moved on to a new sport, so back-to-school is a great time to get rid of old sports equipment. Oftentimes, teams collectively donate used equipment to teams and schools that don’t have big budgets, so maybe you could put together a cleat drive.

7. Towels. Pool, river, lake or ocean … they’ve all wreaked havoc on your towels. Once everyone is settled in their new schedules, pull all the towels out and see which ones can go. Donate to a local animal rescue.

8. Medicine cabinet. As your kids get older, there’s naturally some stuff they’ll use less of (like, kids’ bubble bath and hair brushes as they move on to the more grown-up versions) and more of (deodorant). Not to mention medicine and sunscreen that’s probably past its prime. Make room for the new stuff and out with the old.

9. Your garage. About 25 percent of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and after a summer of everyone home, the garage might have become the dumping ground. Tackle this before winter comes! And remember, this is probably one of the biggest jobs on the list, so make time for it.

10. The kitchen cabinets. Constant snacking has probably turned the kitchen upside down. It’s time to return order and systems back to the kitchen … and maybe a purge? Sort through food storage: top but not bottom … out! Broken or cracked plates … gone.

And next year, think about doing this decluttering while the kids are at sleep-away camp! —Tracy McCubbin

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