Freshen Up for Fall and a New Semester

Say goodbye to summer’s lethargy. It's time to channel that back-to-school feeling for domestic good

By Joanna Simmons  / Courtesy of

Even if your school days are far behind you, there is something about September and October that feels new and purposeful. Summer is over, and the streets are full of young people bustling off to school each morning and adults settling back into a working routine. You may no longer need to organize your pencil case and cover your textbooks with paper, but you can still channel this new-semester energy by whipping your home and yourself into shape, ready for fall. A touch of targeted tidying, some clever organizing and a few small lifestyle changes should help you start afresh

1. Take care of yourself. Growing children need new shoes and clothes at the start of an academic year, and while your feet may not have gone up a size over the summer, this could be a good time to book key health appointments. Is it time for an eye check? Are you overdue at the dentist? Perhaps you just need a haircut. Channel the new-semester feel by booking health reviews, check-ups or personal grooming sessions now.

2. Overhaul your diet. Don’t wait until New Year’s to start a healthy-eating regime. After a summer of rosé and vacation meals, now is a great time to rethink what you eat. Injecting some healthy new dishes into your meal lineup will perk up the shorter evenings and help everyone be in good shape to cope with school, work and the coming sniffle season.

3. Prepare the garden for fall. Clean and store garden furniture safely for winter. Leaving wooden chairs out in the rain can damage them and shorten their life, while chairs with metal detailing can rust. Pack up your barbecue and take down any banners or other decor that might not survive the winter. As the weather grows colder and our feathered friends find their food supplies drying up, now is also a good time to hang bird feeders.

4. Look at your lighting. Before the clocks change and we plunge into winter, take some time to think about your lighting. Over summer we are often able to overlook any deficiencies in our lighting, but with the shorter days these become more obvious. Tackle lighting now, before fall fully arrives and you lose impetus. Dealing with home issues outside the season when they become most apparent is the smart thing to do, so get any roof repairs, draft-proofing or insulation work done now too so everything will be ready for when it is truly needed.

5. Blitz a junk drawer. Just about every home has one. Your junk drawer could be anywhere in your house, but the kitchen is the usual spot. This space supposedly holds kitchen utensils, stationery or the like, but it often becomes a catch-all, containing everything from elastic bands and takeaway menus to dead batteries and odd socks. Time to take action.e here...

6. Bring winter clothes out of storage. If you have stored winter clothes in boxes over the summer, think about getting them out of storage now. This will give give you time to check over your sweaters, scarves and coats to see if any need dry cleaning before the cold weather arrives. You can scan through your wardrobe and store away any seriously summery clothes too.

7. Service your bike. You might remember to service the car once a year, but how about your bike? Servicing it will ensure it’s safe to use and can prolong its life, so direct some new-term zeal toward your two wheels. If your children are cycling to school, it’s a good idea to get their bikes serviced, too.

8. Ditch the expired and unused. Have a new-term tidy-up, but give it a focus, too. Chuck out any expired medicines, lotions or bath products. There will be a use-by date on medicines, but apply common sense with other products. If you haven’t used that tube of foot exfoliator this summer, you probably never will. Toss it! Take the same approach with makeup. Old makeup can harbor bacteria and lead to eye infections, so check the labels for how long each item should be open and in use for, and ditch products accordingly.

9. Go back to school. Many adult education colleges are still enrolling for courses, so if you have always wanted to improve your Spanish or learn pottery, see if you can book a course now and go back to school this fall or winter. Failing that, set aside some time to enjoy learning at home. Create a list of books you have always intended to read, or go online for suggestions. Many print and online publications offer lists of the best new books — these could become your fall reading list.

10. Purge the iffy plastic. Bulky plastic containers are essential for food storage, but many of us are guilty of keeping too many. So have a plastic cull and keep just the ones that are working well for you. Recycle or ditch any containers that are stained, smelly, distorted or without a lid. Pare down your collection of old takeout containers, too. One or two might prove handy. A whole stack of them will not.

Tell us:  Do you have any tips for refreshing your home for fall? Share them in the Comments.