Shopping for back-to-school essentials has changed astronomically since my childhood. Back then, it was a simple, straightforward process: rushing down the aisle to locate the most colorful assortment of crayons, then B-lining over to the binder aisle. In a matter of minutes, the process was over and done with until next year.
It wasn't until I was preparing for my freshman year of college that the process evolved; there were linens to dress my best mattress in, storage options, and shower caddies to consider.
Where to start? I had no idea — and that same confusion is plaguing all parents this year. The pandemic has shifted the way children learn and extended their back-to-school essentials shopping list.
Now, whether you're shopping for your college-bound freshman or raising a toddler, the lists are interchangeable: you need pieces that emphasize organization, storage, and of course, everything in-between. And that's where Bed Bath & Beyond's latest release comes into play.
Squared Away (opens in new tab), the retailer's sixth release is here to get every student (no matter their age or grade) squared away for the upcoming school year. There are storage solutions and cleaning supplies, and if you need a bit more assistance, they've ever tapped Eryn Donaldson, a home organization expert.
Donaldson graciously has provided all of her tips and tricks to decluttering space while simultaneously mastering every back-to-school essentials shopping list.
Continue reading below to see!
1. Start out by starting small
"Getting organized [for back-to-school] can be overwhelming. Take it one step at a time and start with something easy, like the junk drawer," explains Donaldson.
Tip: Try a small metal drawer
Squared Away Large Metal Mesh Cabinet Drawer (opens in new tab)for $25, at Bed Bath & Beyond
Storage bins make a big difference in keeping clutter and stress at bay, and a version like this one (opens in new tab) can sneakily stash tows, stow towels while also stacking papers and hiding underneath your desk.
2. Remember versatility is key
"Multifunctional items help maximize your space and provide practical solutions to clutter. Think beyond typical uses for products," explains Donaldson.
Tip: Try a hanging shelf
Squared Away Arrow Weave 6-Shelf Hanging Organizer (opens in new tab)for $18, at Bed Bath & Beyond
If you are dealing with a dorm room or converting a living room into a virtual learning center for young children, you need a solution that adds storage without creating clutter. Enter: this six-tier hanging shelf. (opens in new tab) You can seamlessly tuck away unwanted items and hang them on a coat rack (or curtain rod if need be) while producing enough space for your day-to-day essentials such as paper or textbooks.
3. Always (always) double up
"Sleek new products make it easier than ever to create space-saving storage options while eliminating the need for excess furniture. Stylish storage carts can be used as nightstands or side tables, bathroom cabinets, or nursery dressers. When you’re able to keep essentials within arm’s reach, you’ll make your life a lot easier," adds Donaldson.
Tip: Try a piece that discretely tucks away excessive items
Squared Away 4-Drawer Storage Cart in Grey (opens in new tab) for $40, at Bed Bath & Beyond
I can personally attest to the power of this storage cart (opens in new tab): it provides the same concept of a nightstand or bureau, without any of the added bulkiness. You can display perfume, picture frames, and dainty jewelry on top, and inside fill it with anything from socks to sweatpants.
4. Lastly, It's time to get rolling!
"A 3-tier storage cart on wheels is a great way to bring your things from one room to the next. Simply roll it anywhere and give yourself flexibility with open shelving options. Try this as an art caddy, a bookshelf, or a bath organizer. Carts like these help you not only get organized but stay organized," concludes Donaldson.
Tip: Try a multi-tiered cart that's equal parts solution-based and stylish
Squared Away Utility Cart (opens in new tab)starting at $50, at Bed Bath & Beyond
Sleek and sophisticated, this rolling cart (opens in new tab) comes in either three or four tiers and emphasizing a black and natural finish. Stack (and style) learning textbook; mix-and-match desk supplies with greenery for a finishing touch, and best of all: move it from one room to the other when need be!
Need more back-to-school essentials? Check out additional suggestions below:
Squared Away 3 Tier Narrow Bath Storage Cart in White (opens in new tab) for $24, at Bed Bath & Beyond
Opt-out of the traditional shower caddy that requires carrying, and ensure all your shower essentials have a home with this rolling caddy. (opens in new tab)The sleek structure takes up minimal space in dorm rooms, plus the three tiers provide enough space to stack miscellaneous pieces.
Squared Away 36-Piece Cedar Value Pack with Lavender Scent (opens in new tab)for $10.40, at Bed Bath & Beyond
As much as we love the best candle or best reed diffuser, but when dealing with young children or risking insubordination in the dorms, it's best to stick to a scented choice such as this one (opens in new tab). This 36-choice includes lavender-scented rings, sachets, and blocks to make any room smell good, all day, every day.
Squared Away 13-Inch Collapsible Storage Bin in Natural Sticks (opens in new tab)for $8, at Bed Bath & Beyond
Ensure a clutter-free home with the help of these collapsable bins. (opens in new tab)Excellent when used as a home base for any papers, markers, or pens, and even better when looking for a way to store hairbrushes or hair tools, too. They're the cost-effective must-have.