Back to School to-do list: Clean out the backpack

Remember when the backpacks were brand new? They don’t look like this anymore.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Yes, we know this is the last day of school for kids in Austin Independent School District, and for kids in neighboring districts, it seems like school just ended, right?

Well, you’ve got work to do.

That full backpack with all the stuff that the teacher sent home on the last day is waiting for you to tackle it.

DO IT NOW. Why? Because there will be surprises in there, and if you wait until August 20, the day before school starts, a huge, stinky mess could be waiting for you.

Step 1. Dump it out. Empty all the pockets. We like to do this in the middle of the kitchen floor. All those crumbs from half-eaten snacks are going to end up there eventually. Go ahead and make it easy to sweep it up.

Step 2. Sort the pile. 

Throw out: Anything your child will never use again. Any school supplies that are broken. All those worksheets you don’t care about.

Save: School supplies that are still good. Keep them in your home for next year when you need glue and crayons for some amazing project that your child remembered at 8 p.m. is due the next day.

Save: Anything sentimental. Have an acid-free box where you keep the artwork, journals and stories that will mean something to you or your child 10 or 20 years from now. Don’t have room for all of that or just aren’t sure? Take a picture.

Save: Anything that could help them academically the next year. Latin vocabulary lists, I’m talking about you. Math formula sheets, we might need you. If you don’t have a filing system for these items, create one. If you don’t have room in your over-filled house, take a picture or scan the sheets in and save them to a Google Drive or Dropbox for future use. Be sure to label them well.

Keep: That house key, that calculator, those earbuds, the chargers — all the stuff you know your kid needs and has been looking for repeatedly all year only to discover that they have been in the bottom of the backpack the whole time.

Toss: EVERYTHING ELSE. If you don’t need it, toss it out. No teacher is passing judgement that you didn’t keep all her homework sheets.

Step 3. Put away everything you’ve kept in an organize place that make sense. No, the middle of your room or the top of the desk is not an organized place, child. Toss everything you’re not keeping and sweep the floor.

Step 4. Evaluate the backpack. Can it be used again with a good washing in the washing machine? Or is it full of holes and tears? We think it’s probably the later, but if it’s the former, think about how you can use it. Can it be turned into a beach bag, a gym bag, a holder for odds and ends that need containing? Or can it actually be used as a backpack next year? Just because your child wants a new bag every year doesn’t mean he really needs one, right?

Step 5. Enjoy summer. You’ve done the work and now that stinky backpack won’t be in the way all summer long.

RELATED: SCHEDULE DOCTOR VISIT FOR VACCINES, SPORTS PHYSICALS