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Create Your Own Supply Closet

Late August and early September are the best times to find bargains on school supplies, like name-brand marker sets for a dollar and boxes of crayons for 25 cents. Gabrielle Blair, a designer and mother of six whose blog, Design Mom, has chronicled her family's moves from New York to Colorado to France, knows how crucial it is to have a well-stocked art bin no matter where she is. Blair likes to buy a year's supply of colored pencils and glue at the very end of summer. "You'll be so glad to pull out a fresh set of markers when February rolls around and you're making Valentines," she says. Art supplies make handy last-minute stocking stuffers and birthday gifts, too. Pick out something new for yourself while you're at it, like a fresh notebook or pen. Blair loves Michael Roger Decomposition Books, an updated—and 100% recycled—take on the classic black and white marbled composition notebooks.

Toss Those Too-Short Overalls

Blair goes through her kids' wardrobes and gets rid of everything they've outgrown or never wear. Her thinking is if they have only good-looking, well-fitting options in their closets, getting dressed each morning will be a much happier experience for everyone. (Younger children will have an even easier time if you pair up matching outfits and store them on one hanger.) Donate items that aren't stained or torn to charity; even umbrellas, pillows and blankets in good condition can go to someone who needs them. Store out-of-season clothes or hand-me-downs from older siblings on the highest shelves of your child's closet. Here are more smart ideas for maximizing closet space, like placing shelves over doors and putting hooks on bare walls.

Rethink Backpack Shopping

Marie LeBaron, founder of the popular parenting site Make and Takes, a former kindergarten teacher and mother of three, brings each of her children backpack shopping alone and lets them pick out their favorite pack. If you'd like to ensure your kid doesn't pick what you deem the ugliest, least practical or most poorly made bag in the store, follow the advice of Carina Schott, whose blog and online shop, Nonchalant Mom, has an eye for kids' items that we'd be glad to use ourselves. Schott does her own backpack research online ahead of time, then lets her kids choose from the selection she gives them.