A simple and inexpensive way to organize arts and crafts or office supplies is with photo boxes. These little boxes are usually made of cardboard and come in a variety of colors and designs. This makes it very easy to match any room decor. The great thing about these little clutter busters, is that you can often find them on sale for about $2 a box. Many styles also have a handy area to place a label of the contents. In my craft room, I put all our Valentine making supplies in one box, labeled Valentine’s, another holds card making supplies with an appropriate label and still another houses paintbrushes, stencils, and craft paints. I have a slew of these hard-working containers filled with craft and office supplies and all are labeled accordingly. Don’t forget to label each photo box with what is inside. You don’t want to have to open up every box to find a certain item. I love how these bins, stack and fit so perfectly on a shelf or in a bookcase. Plus, they look a lot neater and nicer on a shelf than all the clutter and chaos that comes with arts and crafts.
My organization obsession doesn’t stop once I’m outside my home. I continue it in my car and in my life. To stay organized on the go, here are a few tips. As you know, you should always have a copy of your registration and insurance card with you when driving. In my glove compartment I keep a small accordion file that holds a copy of both of these documents, along with the appropriate phone numbers of the Insurance agency. I also keep my AAA card information in here and a notepad and pen or pencil, in case I need to take down someone’s information in case of an accident. I put a small list of emergency contact numbers and any important medical conditions my family might have, like the fact that my husband is an insulin dependent diabetic. God forbid, we’re in an accident, are unconscious and my husband is not wearing his medic alert dog tags. It is always best to be prepared. Another gadget that should be in your car is a seat belt cutter. Don’t forget to keep a first aid kit in the car, I have a pretty decent one in my trunk, that doubles as a go to kit for cub scout hikes, campouts, baseball games or basically any day with a rough and tumble boy. In the trunk, I also like to keep a couple of items on hand, like bug spray, sunscreen, a pair of socks for my son and one for an adult, and a long-sleeved t-shirt or a sweatshirt. This list of items switches up depending on the season. In summer I might keep an extra pair of shorts, in case of impromptu sprinkler runs, or an extra pair of gloves in the winter for random snowball fights. I find that when I am prepared for anything, anything can happen and usually it means fun!
My family loves to play games, whether it is trivial pursuit, board games or cards. There is nothing better than to cozy up with family and friends on a cool night with a warm cocoa or hot coffee to play some fun games. Many times, however, I am left searching endlessly for a deck of cards or a missing die. Not anymore, I have come up with a great solution for all you game lovers out there or anyone with kids. Recently at Ikea, I saw these cute blue organizers with multiple partitions, I knew I needed to have them, I just didn’t know for what. Well, it came to me the other day as I was running to grab a pencil and paper to jot down some scores for Rummy 500…those blue bins! So I grabbed one and started to populate it with whatever game paraphernalia I thought we would need during Game Night. In one partition I put a bunch of dice, another holds pens, pencils and a small notepad to keep scores and I put a few packs of cards in there as well. My husband likes to play poker games, so I took out one of the partitions to make a larger area for all of our poker chips. My son loves charades, so I included a stack of cards for charades. Now when friends, family or my little one wants to play a game of cards, charades, or dice, I just grab some snacks and pull out my handy Game Night Organizer and we are ready to have fun.
One of my favorite organizing tips for both the kids and myself is to set out our clothes for the week on Sunday night. To make sure I can do this, I of course have to do a couple loads of laundry over the weekend. Then for the kids, I grab an outfit for everyday of the week; socks, underwear, shirt, shorts, and sweatshirt, whatever might be needed. Of course, this is a perfect time to let your kids exert their independence by letting them choose their weekly clothes. There are many ways to lay these out, but I chose a hanging organizer that is labeled with the days of the week. So, come Sunday night, I put each outfit into that day’s cubby and mornings are so much less hectic. For myself, I lay out or hang up my outfits for a few days at a time, right down to my shoes. Chaos in the mornings can ruin an entire day and looking for an outfit in that state of mind is impossible. On days like that nothing looks good on me and I feel as though I have nothing to wear. By picking out an entire outfit a night or two before, I can realistically choose something that fits and looks nice. And in my house, we keep all our shoes and boots by the front door, so I don’t have to send anyone on a wild goose chase for their sneakers. My everyday shoes are kept by the door and all others are stored away in a shoe caddy in my closet. Not only does this organizing system keep me sane, it also enables the kids to get themselves dressed without too much hassle.
Denial is setting in, it can’t be close to the start of school. I am not ready to give up my lazy summer days for schedules and homework. Laying by the pool, chatting with other Moms while we watch our children giggle and laugh is the best thing on earth and I don’t want it to end. However, there are a number of things that need to get done during the summer in time for the school year. I, for one, don’t want to start the school year hectic and feeling as though I am already playing catch up. If you have been reading my blog, then you already know a few tricks to make this transition a little bit smoother. Check out “Checklists to Help Get Your Kids Organized” for ways to help your kids get their morning and bedtime routines. And there are also blogs about how to organize all those papers that come home from school. Just scroll through the previous posts for some helpful ideas.
Now is the time to schedule any checkups for the kids, bring your school’s health form to the doctor’s office and make sure that all immunizations are up to date. Nobody wants to be shocked come September 9th because they didn’t get the proper forms filled out. Plus, many doctors are usually booked most of September for this very reason. Another thing to do is to have a fashion show with your child. You can make this a fun event, plus you will find out what clothing fits and what can be donated or handed down. By doing this, you can cut down on the amount of back to school clothes you need to buy and cut down on the cost. While you are shopping for new clothes you do need, pick up all your child’s classroom supplies, there are some great sale prices out there right now.
The kids seem to be ready, now it’s your turn. Set up a calendar for the family or a household binder to get all your important info in one spot and place it in a highly visible area. Make sure to contact any babysitters or after-school programs to ensure availability. Plan out a week or two of menu ideas, do the grocery shopping and have breakfasts, lunches and snacks predetermined. To keep the sanity, talk with your children now and agree upon some homework and computer/video game schedules. To help kids stay focused and get their work done, set up a Homework Station, complete with pens, pencils, erasers, paper, a good light, comfy chair and a clutter-free desk. Good luck, but don’t worry, summer is still here. Enjoy!!
Tonight I am going to keep the blog simple, just a quick little clutter control tip. As I’ve said in previous blogs I love magazines, and I like to keep them on hand for reference for a few months. (After which I tear out the articles I want to keep and discard the remainder.) But, during those few months, I don’t like to stack them on the coffee table or pile them near my chair. So, to keep the place looking fairly neat I file them in magazine holders. Any school workbooks that don’t need to be brought to school everyday, can find a resting spot in these holders. They are also a good hideaway place for any paperwork projects that I am working on currently. Another great use for these magazine holders is to house my son’s library books during the school year, this way they don’t get shuffled into his own library. Luckily, magazine holders come in all types of designs, colors and styles. You can purchase expensive leather ones, fabric covered varieties or simple white. I have even taken simple white cardboard holders (you know those 4 for $5 packs) and covered them in pretty paper to match my living room decor. Paperwork, magazines and the like are clutter creators and these simple and stylish holders will help you keep things neat and organized. You can even label them with either a label maker, nice handwriting and a pen, or a fancy gift tag and some double stick tape. Have fun!
Happy Clutter Free Saturday!!
So, as I suggested yesterday, pick up a pretty file box and some hanging folders, get out your inside folders and your label maker and let’s get to organizing. We are going to corral all those school papers and preserve some memories in the process. Now, I am going to be hopeful here and plan that all of my son’s papers from all his years in school are going to fit in this one box. Wouldn’t that be awesome? The key to this goal is to remember to weed out what you can, not everything that is brought home is a keeper. Sometimes it is just scribble. So here goes, as I borrowed from the blog “a bowl full of lemons”, I am labeling my sections as follows: Birthday Cards, Report Cards, Toddler, Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade,…all the way through 12th Grade. I have a feeling the paperwork gets a little lighter as our children get older. At least I can hope. Next I am going to add my own sections such as, in each grade I will put an artwork folder and a school photo folder, to make my life easier. I will also add Sports, Cub Scouts, and Sunday School/Church as categories. Since my son loves building things and creating electronics, I will also include a section called Inventions. Who knows, one of these ideas of his just might make me a rich Mama someday. My fingers are crossed.
There you have it, a place for all the school paperwork from here on out. I am so excited to have this project completed because now, when school is back in session, I am ready to conquer those piles before they conquer me. And as time allows, I will go back to the previous years of paperwork and file those as well. How nice would that be to have all your child’s school memories in one easy to access location. And in a place where those memories are safe for years to come. I remember feeling a tinge of sadness, when I stumbled upon some of my childhood artwork which had mildewed in my parent’s basement. There is such a sense of loss when this happens. I don’t want my son or anyone else for that matter to have that experience. I am a big believer in preserving memories now, while we still have them.