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Set Up These Spaces Before Back to School

It’s that time of year, again! Time to trade in beach gear for backpacks and packed lunches. Back to school is the start of a busy time, so this year, get a head start and prep your home before you and your kids become busy with soccer practice, piano lessons, and science fairs.

Here are four spaces you can set up in your home before school to relieve the day-to-day craze of a school year. And, if you’re looking for more tips, check out our Q&A post on how to prepare your family for back to school!

The Kids' Workspace

Back to school means your kids will soon bring home artwork, books, papers, projects and, of course, homework. It’s important to support your children in their school work, and to do so they’ll need a place to work. You might already have a workspace set up for the kids and, if so, that’s great. If not, no worries, choose a quiet and semi-private location, if you can, away from distractions like the TV or kitchen. You don’t need a huge space –  a small table in their room, a quiet corner of the living area, or a shelf at the end of a hall are all great places to start. Check out this ‘Ask Maeve’ for some helpful setting up tips.

As you’re setting up a desk space or checking in on one from last year, clear out any school supplies no longer needed. It’s helpful, before you go to a store, to see what you already own and what wasn’t used the previous year. Check if pens work, gather dividers to make matching sets, and recycle ripped or crumpled paper and old notebooks.

A Drop Zone

Create a cubby space or drop zone at home, similar to those you might see at school, to help deal with the flow of a school week. An ideal spot for this is near your most often used entrance, whether it’s your front, back or garage door. Another great spot is right inside your child’s room, either next to or behind the door, any spot that you child will connect to, and use. The furniture you use doesn’t need to be complicated, just a simple table will do, or cube shelving is great (my favorite!), as it encourages small hands to drop things in a targeted spot. 

A drop zone will help to curb that chaotic time when you’re getting your kids out of the home and will prevent things from being dropped into the middle of the floor when they return home. Putting this cubby space in place also helps to reduce distractions in the homework area, as loose ends from the day stay by the door.

A Nerve Center

A must-have space for parents is a nerve center, or a ‘command central’, a place where you can clear your brain for two seconds both at the start and the end of your day. Great spots for nerve centers are a corner of a countertop in a kitchen, your home office desk if you have one, or a basket that you keep in your bedroom, any spot that is mostly for you, and less for your kids.

A nerve center is a spot for your daybook, for keeping papers on upcoming appointments, or to charge or even store the digital devices that help to run your day. If you can, bring something calming to that spot to help you ground, like a favorite picture, or a friendly decorative item, something that can help you to take a deep breath and get yourself both mentally and physically prepared for the day.


Finally, backpacks need attention at this time of the year as well, and when it comes to prepping backpacks, keep it simple. Your child should start the school year with a clean slate, and a clear idea of what to keep in their backpack, so focus first on what they need for their day-to-day – like pens, pencils, folders, books and room for a lunch – then if your child has sports or musical equipment, add these last. If you can, have a separate backpack or bag for any after-school materials, or at least contain them in their own bag within the backpack, for easier removal. 

Once school starts, you can sit with your child and go through their backpack. Get into the habit once a week of clearing out whatever has fallen to the bottom, clean it if it is dirty and get it prepped for a new week. A good goal is to have your child begin to sort through their own backpack weekly, as part of their ‘getting ready for the school week’ routine.

What are your favorite spaces at home to prepare before back to school? Share in the comments below!

Photo Credits: Better Homes & Gardens

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at or @MaeveRichmond.

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