Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mission: Organize - Mail and Art Center

This is the first post in a series of Mission: Organization - hoping to get my family and home decluttered and working efficiently.

It's no secret the Little Fur Family leads a busy life.  Hubby recently started working seven days a week, I work nearly every waking hour, the kids are all in school or pre-school this year, and there are the three cats and the new doggie.  Chaos abounds, mama is always tired, and things seem to constantly get missed.

Add to the busy life the daily tasks of the house.  The dishes, laundry, mail, groceries, etc.  It's enough to drive anyone a little batty.  What has suffered recently is our house.  The clutter is starting to get overwhelming, I can't just let it go anymore and pile it up for another day.

The kitchen, playroom, our bedroom, the loft/office and our basement are all due for a massive declutter, and with the little time we have, I'm taking it in small bites and hoping that the end of January will see massive improvements.

Ideally, I'm looking to move my studio to the basement and build a larger and more functional space.  So mission of organization is really leading somewhere big.

This weekend's mission was to organize the mail piles in the kitchen, get a spot for homework and the bazillion pieces of paper that come home from school.  And simultaneously to clean out the art center that resides in the kitchen hallway.

Mail Center:
I don't think I'm alone in letting the mail pile up.  I glance at it every day, especially around this time of year, like to thumb through the catalogs that come, but can't always do it right when the mail arrives.  And then the papers that come home.  Three kids, two schools, LOTS of things to keep track of.

(Yes, that's my kitchen on the left.  The piles are crazy...and the fridge is just a week's worth of artwork brought home from school!)

The solution to this was easy...I found a pin on Pinterest.  I used this pin, and pretty much copied exactly what she did.

I used hanging files to create one for each family member, one for unfiled stuff, bills, one for Split Pea's medical stuff (that really does need its own folder!), coupons/catalogs (I am always wondering what I did with the latest sales flyer), and one for "To be filed" items.

The front is a calendar that I can write our month on (starting in January 2013)  And then I've tucked a binder in back that I'm now trying to use as the organization central for my life.

To fill the binder, I searched Pinterest for "kitchen printables" and downloaded lots of forms including, the week-at-a-glance, daily to-dos for work and home, weekly meal plan, shopping and cleaning lists, and even a monthly lunch menu so I can write down which kid will be eating at school and if not, what I'm packing the for that day.

I laminated all of the printables to save paper, so I can write on them with a dry-erase marker and wipe off.  I added sheet protectors in the back to hold the monthly lunch menu for the Monkey's school as well as the recipes for the meals I'm cooking for the week. 

Art Center:

The boys all LOVE to create.  A while back, I filled this chest of drawers up with art supplies, but lately it has felt totally disorganized as they just shoved stuff back in when they were done.  The Monkey and Small Fry have been making lots of comic books and doing stories, so nearly every morning, I find them creating with crayons, markers, googly eyes, etc.

I decided it was time to clean the drawers, toss things that were broken, missing pieces, donate the not-used stuff and refresh the supplies.  I stocked up on new colored pencils, crayons, "Pip Squeak" markers from Crayola, paper, some new foam shapes and art kits, clipboards, tape, erasers, pencils and glue sticks.

I put things into labeled containers, and sorted everything into the drawers and labeled the drawers.  The Monkey is an expert reader now and Small Fry is working on it, so this is a great way to encourage them to pay attention to where their supplies belong.

They also have binders with sheet protectors where they can place their finished work (I had piles of papers from them too!), and a folder where they can put the work they are still working on (The Monkey is working on a version of "Alice in Wonderland", and Small Fry is finishing a comic book story. 

I organized it in an evening, and we were out of the house all day.  But as soon as we returned home, I explained and showed what was in each drawer.  I said that things like glue sticks, the hole punch and the drawer of paint, foam shapes and art kits are things that require mommy's permission.  But other than that, they can have at long as they are respectful and keep it organized and everything in the correct drawers.

It took about 2.2 seconds and the kids had out markers, crayons and colored pencils, paper on the clipboards and they were off - creating their newest masterpiece!

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