Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mom ... I Forgot My __________ .

This morning, after traipsing home from dropping the kids off at school, I found a message on the machine from my recently dropped-off son.

"Uh, Mom?  I forgot my book bag ... again.  Uh ... could you bring it up? ...(pause)... That would, uh, that would make me real happy."  Click.

Well ... seeing as I'm a good mom :) and want to make my son happy :) :) I drove his ziplock book bag to school.  For the second time in two weeks.   It really isn't that big a deal, but I didn't feel that it was a very good portent of the coming weeks.  I had a vision of me making daily visits to the school, book bag in hand with a sheepish boy claiming said book-bag and a 3rd grade teacher wondering what sort of disorganized mayhem we live in.  Well ... while our house isn't a total mess, there are certainly areas that could use some improvement.  For example, the school shelf.  See ... it wasn't entirely his fault.  This is what he had to work with:

yes ... that's a spool of curling ribbon ... it needs to find it's true home!
We have a saying in our house when it's time to clean up, "Put it where it lives."  The implied significance being that everything has it's place and if it doesn't have a home, either we need to find it one or toss it out.  This was the problem that I was facing with the school shelf.  Most everything had a home (crayons, markers, pencils, etc.) but the papers and notebooks and folders were homeless ... and causing some trouble.

Now, seeing as I had just spent $40 on our couch, I knew that my organization budget was a little on the slim side.  So ... armed with an empty peach box, an extra piece of cardboard, an exacto knife, some craft paper and my rusty, trusty glue gun ... I set out to find our school stuff a home ... and not spend a cent!  Here is my step-by-step process to a nifty organizer box.

First I cut the extra cardboard so that it would fit snugly in the box as a divider.  I folded the sides and bottom so that I would have something to glue to the box.  See the picture for a better description.  I did two of these dividers with the purpose of having three sections, one each for Aaron, Norah & Ashley.  In retrospect I would have covered these with something pretty, but seeing as I hadn't thought that far in advance upon gluing ... they are brown. :(  Oh, well ... they are still functional.
I glued along the sides and bottom
to make it secure.
Next I chose some fun paper to cover the outside of the box.  I have a store-house of 12x12 inch paper downstairs (thanks to my mom-in-law!) so I chose some pages that were girly and some that would be okay for a boy ... and yet made sure they looked fun together.  I then folded the paper around the edges of the box and glued them in place starting with the middle portion and then moving round the sides making sure to keep the edges of the paper lined up and glued securely.

Here I have started covering the box.
Finally, I added a little embellishment by printing their names on printer paper and then gluing those to three different decorative papers that complimented their particular pattern.  I then glued those names to the front of the box, designating each kid's slot.  Ta-dah!

Doesn't that look cute?  And functional, too!

Here is our new and improved school shelf:

I wonder how long it will stay so pretty? :)
A few other school shelf pointers I would add:
  • We have several boxes (as you can see) that we have divided up for storing crayons, markers, stamping supplies and miscellaneous school supplies.  We have labeled each box so that there will be limited confusion.
  • The middle shelf houses a variety of things:  dictionaries, frequently used resource books, spiral-bound notebooks the kids use for journalling and the kids' Bibles.  We keep all the coloring books and activity books (which seem to reproduce all by themselves!) in a bin in the pantry which helps to keep them from crawling out and taking over the kitchen table.
  • We have a wire tray that the kids use to put all their papers that come home from school.  I am convinced that in a given year, we have cleared an entire forest as a result of the number of papers that come home ... but that's for another post! :)  This wire basket is cleaned out (i.e. to the recycling bin for most and to the memory box for a few precious things) every couple of weeks.  This saves me from having lots of random pages floating around the kitchen.  I typically let the kids pick their top two favorite school projects and then I choose one or two and then the rest go away!
  • If the kids have a large project (specifically in art) that they don't want to toss, I take a picture of them holding it.  That way we have a memory of their creative project (forever!) but I don't have to figure out how to store the 4 foot x 4 foot collage made from magazine clippings!
  • I just saw a "recipe" for a bulletin board in a FamilyFun Magazine.  I think I will make one to hang in the kitchen for visual reminders.  Hopefully it will help us to fight the "out of sight, out of mind" monster!  I'll let you know!
Hope this helps as you traverse the rest of the school year ... and that you won't be making too many return trips for forgotten papers, books and folders.

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