Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reader Spot: "Simple Organized Systems" For Back To School!

I am so giddy excited to be sharing this post with you all today....I truly hope you enjoy Fresh Coat Of Paint's first ever "Reader Spot" edition!  

When Morgan from Morganize With Me! emailed asking if I would be interested in collaborating, I was over the moon!  One of the best parts of the blog world is the incredible community and the shared inspiration we get from each other.  So, if there's an opportunity for us to gain some tips, inspiration and encouragement from one of you, then I'm super excited to share it!  

At Morgan's blog, you'll find so many great ideas related to faith, family, fitness/healthy living, and of course, organizing!   And you're about to get a little taste of it right now.  Here's Morgan to share some of her "simple organized systems" for back to school....


Back to School - S.O.S. 
“simple organized systems”

Our kids are back in school, we’ve put away the beach towels and pulled out the back packs.  The days are shorter, football season has kicked off, and homework routines have resumed.  In order to keep your days running smoothly it is important to implement what I call, “S.O.S.” - simple organized systems.  Today I am going to tackle the important topics of locker location, paper planning, and dinner duty!

Locker Location

It is essential to design an area where your kids can park their school stuff.  I am referring to their backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes, coats, umbrellas, hats, gloves, scarves etc.  (There is a reason schools have hooks, lockers, and/or cubbies.)  This area should be in one main location and be somewhere near the main entry into your home.  Depending on your home design and your personal style, you may want this area to be out in the open or you may want it out of sight.  Just make sure it is easily accessible by your children so they are able to use it themselves.  For fun you can color code, utilize a picture of each child, or use their individual initials...get creative! 

Your area may include any of the following:
  • Hooks (in the hallway, entryway, mudroom, or closet)
  • Baskets (on the floor, shelves, or in cubbies) 
  • Coat Rack (great one place catch all)
  • Dresser (one drawer for each child)
  • Cupboard (one section or shelf for each child)

Paper Planning
Having your children in school means that they will be bringing home a small truckload of papers each day.  (Thankfully many schools are sending more information electronically, so be sure to opt for this as it will cut down on the paperwork coming through your door.)  There are two main forms of paperwork most parents receive, communication and art/schoolwork.  It is helpful to set up a system with your children when they return home at the end of the day.  It is never too early to begin training your children on how to sort through their paperwork on their own, you are enforcing what they are learning at school by continuing to teach them at home on how to organize their papers.  

To efficiently manage all the paper I recommend you set up two systems.

(1) Create an “In & Out” System for all communication papers, in a location where both you and your kiddos are able to access it and both of you are checking it daily. 
  • “In-Box”: kids put any paperwork that Mom/Dad need to sign, read, fill out, or file 
  • “Out-Box”: kids learn to check before they leave every day, and add to their backpacks as necessary

(2) Design two places for art/schoolwork papers
  • “Display” - location where special art/school work may be displayed and rotated (this may be a bulletin board, the fridge, just create one location)
  • “Save” - holding area for completed art and schoolwork
I keep a large basket available to my children to put all of their art/schoolwork in (it is the basket on the far right).  Then on about a monthly basis I go through the basket (on my own), this is key as you may want to pull out things to recycle and decide without their input.  I know you know what I’m talking about... I sort it into three piles: recycle, memory box and return to the “Save Basket”.  If there are some papers they may ask about later, I keep them in there longer.  It never feels good to tell them you recycled their favorite picture they drew two weeks ago.

Dinner Duty
With back to school we start to have more weeknight commitments, anything from open houses, to ice cream socials.  Along with school, usually sports are also consuming many of our weekday evenings.  It is so imperative that you look ahead with your meal planning to account for these “interruptions”.  

Some simple weeknight ideas are below:
  1. Use your Crock-pot!  There is nothing better than knowing that dinner is done, and you can eat whenever you are able to squeeze it in.  
  2. Try when you can to make two dinners in a row for example, skewers on Monday make for an excellent stir fry on Tuesday with the left overs.  Grill some fish on Thursday and use the remainder for fish tacos on Friday.  Multi tasking at its best!
  3. Prep dinner in the morning as much as possible, marinate the meat, cut the veggies,   or make the sides (fruit or salad).
  4. Keep it simple sister - when you finally get home after soccer practice and it is already almost seven (or whatever time is late for dinner for your family) don’t try to get fancy, make some turkey/grilled cheese sandwiches, heat up some tomato soup, cut some veggies and call it done!  
  5. Be realistic, if it is has been one of those days, opt for take out, or eating out, or even plan this into your week if you know you have a night where timing will be tight and your time to cook will be less than desired.  
  6. Super simple dinners always include - LO (left overs), BFD (breakfast for dinner), OYO (on your own - only if your kids are capable of course...) and SS (soup and sandwiches).
  7. Lastly, have one night a week (or more) that is a theme night.  This will cut down on your menu planning and also be one of those quick and easy meals you can whip up in under 30 minutes.  We do “Mexican Mondays”, we have a tight turn around on Monday nights and this is just the easiest for me to do.  It is anything from Taco Salads, to Burritos, or the easiest casserole ever, La Bamba (see picture below and check out the recipe here!)

When we are proactive we are able to avoid being reactive, or in my own words - we can attempt to control the chaos....here’s to a great school year!



Pretty amazing, right?!  The two areas for art/school projects is genius and I love the idea of having the kids be involved in sorting papers and being responsible for checking the "out box" each morning.  Now to decide if it will be Mexican or Chinese for our themed dinner night!  

What was your favorite?  What "Simple Organized Systems" do you use to keep your home running more smoothly?

Be sure to hop over to Morganize With Me! for even more organizing tips and tricks and family inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing the goods with us today, Morgan!

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  1. Great tips, Morgan! (And I love the name of your blog.) I have a plastic 3 drawer bin in my desk cabinet where my two older kids each have a drawer (the bottom drawer is for my own paperwork that needs to be filed). When they come home, I look through their binders and put their work in their respective drawers to be sorted more fully later . . . but those drawers get filled quickly! I love the idea of a big "save" basket that will fit more. I'm definitely trying your La Bamba casserole--then I can use some of our homegrown tomatoes. Yum! One night per week for a themed dinner is a fantastic idea!

  2. Morgan, as a teacher I REALLY appreciate the basket system you have for important papers that mom and dad need to sign. I can't tell you how many students and parents I've hounded to get back signed forms!

    That recipe you posted for La Bamba Casserole looks AMAZINGLY YUMMY as well. It's going on next weeks menu for sure!

  3. Uh La Bamba looks soooo good! I love the idea of having a themed day weekly. How perfect for my family since I am Hispanic and know how to cook a ton of those meals! Thanks for sharing Morgan. And Deme thanks for having Morgan.


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