Declutter childrens books without the guilt

Those close to me know that I have no trouble getting rid of excess clutter in my home. It doesn’t matter if it’s clothing, toys or kitchen appliances – if I haven’t used it in a while it goes. Children’s books on the other hand are definitely a weakness of mine. My children have such a love for reading. I have read to them since they were only a few months old. Not only is it great for speech and language development, I live for the snuggles and one on one time with my kiddo’s.

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Books are one thing that I have always had a problem parting with. They are one of those items that can take up very little space and can provide a heap of entertainment for the kids, time and time again. My children have their favourites and of course there are a few that I am sentimental about also. Particularly books that my kids would request every single night for months and months on end. Remembering how my Son had learnt all of the words by heart and the funny way they would pronounce certain words puts a smile on my face.

Over the years our collection has continued to grow. In fact, I am pretty sure I could count on one hand how many books I have ever thrown out. To keep on top of the book clutter my children each have one designated shelf for books in their bedrooms and we also keep a basket of books in our living room. The rest of our library is stored in plastic tubs in the garage and we rotate the books every few months.

 

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But how many books should you store to rotate in and out? The answer to that question will vary person to person. I guess it depends on how much space you have to store them and how often you change them over. We currently have two 60L tubs and they are packed full. If I am being honest, the truth is that we have never purged books before and I know that many of them never get read and there are heaps that the kids have quite simply outgrown.

A few weeks ago my Son asked if we could change the books so I dragged the two plastic tubs out from our garage and lugged them onto the lounge room floor. We began searching for a particular book that Master B had been asking for and within 10 minutes my carpet looked like this.

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I honestly could not believe how many books we owned and these didn’t even include what was already in the house. Being that school holidays had just started, I took advantage of a stormy Sunday afternoon and began finally purging the kid’s books.

First we brought every single book out to the carpet and I got the children to select a pile of books for each of their rooms. I then chose books for our living room book basket.

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I began sorting them into the following piles:

  • Keepers
  • Donations
  • Maybe keep
  • Baby books / outgrown
  • Damaged / to throw out
  • Sets (grouping all Dora / Thomas The Tank Engine – books together etc.)

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Donations

These were placed directly in the empty blue tub.

Keepers

I placed these on the floor so that I was able to keep track of how many we were keeping.

Baby Books

We had a ridiculous amount of educational books for learning first words, colours, shapes, numbers and animals. I kept only one of each type and donated the rest. I then collected a few of my favourite board books “just in case” we have another baby. (#wishfulthinking) The rest were also donated

Damaged Books

I said goodbye to those damaged books once and for all.

Book Sets

We looked through the book sets and kept the ones we will continue to read eg. Dora the Explorer, Where’s Wally, Winnie The Pooh. I then put the remaining sets in our donation box with the exception of two, which I am trying to sell.

Maybe Keep

I left these until last so I knew how much room we roughly had in our “to keep” box. I was able to be realistic in what I knew we would genuinely use and enjoy. There were obvious purges. These were books the kids have never chose to bring inside.  I also found twelve books that we had two copies of (I’m not even sure how that happened) so all of the doubles were purged as well.

We began packing our “to keep” books back in the plastic container. To my surprise (and relief) they all fit back into just one 60L tub. That’s right, I had achieved my goal and we halved our library – and all of our favourites are still here.

This was my donation pile.

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It just goes to show how much we hold onto purely because we put off making decisions. When you decide to declutter your home, you must be honest with yourself about what you really use. I hate to see so many books in our donation pile but I know that my kids are either way too old for them or are quite simply not interested in them.

It makes me happy to think that these books will make their way to children who will read and enjoy them. And what is the added bonus to our donations? I now have space for our own collection to grow as the kids get older and their interests change.

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If I can get a little serious for a moment when I began decluttering over 6 years ago I never thought I would get to the point that I am at right now. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go before I reach my end goal. When I looked at those tubs absolutely bursting at the seams the first thing I though was that every room in my house was like those tubs. Absolutely stuffed full with unused clutter.

Conquering The Guilt

I have found that when you are trying to better your home and manage the clutter you have to let go of the guilt. Why hold on to all of this excess stuff that you don’t even use, purely because you feel guilty getting rid of them? And why should you feel guilty for trying to make your home less cluttered and better organised?

I like to think of it another way.

Why am I being so selfish holding onto all of these books? We no longer love or use them and there are other children that could be enjoying them instead. There are many places you can donate children’s books. Schools, day care centres, doctors surgeries, play groups, friends and family at even pay it forward style groups online.

You are taking the necessary steps to live a less cluttered and more organised life. By ridding your home of excessive stuff you are making room for things that you truly use and love and you are making less work for yourself in the long run. No one should feel guilty for trying to enjoy their homes more.

I really feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No really, do you know how heavy those tubs were? We are no longer drowning in books and it feels really great to get another job crossed off the to do list.

I challenge you to tackle the kid’s books and minimise the clutter this week.

10 Of The Best (non – chocolate) Easter Basket Stuffers For Kids

Well the months are flying by and Easter is just around the corner, can you believe it?

Like many parents I’m sure, I am beginning to think about what to include in the kiddo’s Easter baskets this year. I will put it out there and confess that this is the ONLY day that my children get to have chocolate before breakfast (queue the mummy shaming) but I do like to include a few practical items in their Easter baskets as well.

Whether you are trying to minimise the toys and clutter in your home or you would just prefer to not go overboard on the sweets, there are many items you can add to the kids Easter baskets instead of the obvious chocolate bunnies and eggs.

I thought I would put together a list of practical and fun altervatives.

Books

You really can’t go wrong with books. My children have had a great love for books since they were very young. I like to include books with each Birthday, Christmas and Easter. As they grow their interests and reading level changes so its nice to add to the collection.

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Clothing or Shoes

Clothing is always high up on the list of practical gifts. My children are both moving up a size at the moment so a few new items will come in handy. Jackets, shirts shoes or pyjamas – whatever they are in need of can be added to the basket.

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Art and Craft Supplies

This could include a billion different things like colouring books, pencils, paints or stickers. Whatever you choose make sure you actually need it, and that it will be used.

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DVD’s or Music

A new DVD or iTunes card will be a great addition to any Easter gift.

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Personal Care Items

Any fun items that you wouldn’t normally buy for your kids on a week to week basis at the grocery store. Special bubble baths, novelty soaps, nail polish, makeup, lip gloss, perfume, hair brushes and accessories, character toothbrushes, or electric toothbrush. These are all very practical gifts that will be used, therefore not cluttering up your house until the end of time.

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Educational Activities or Toys

Anything that encourages learning such as activity books for practicing writing or maths, flash cards, magnetic letters or numbers, games that encourage cognitive development. You really can’t go wrong here.

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Baking Session

I love doing this during the school holidays as a fun activity for the kids. Gather all the ingredients for a yummy recipe and have a morning baking session. We make Easter themes cupcakes to take to family and friends in the lead up to the holiday each year. My children absolutely love cooking together.

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Busy Boxes

This is something that my mum used to make for my little sister and I when we would take a road trip. She would purchase a cute little suitcase or backpack and fill it with items and fun activities that we could use in the car while we were traveling. We loved finding pencils and colouring books, find-a-word puzzles, stickers, magazines or books to read, a new CD’s for our discman hidden inside. A few little snacks and drinks for the trip were a nice little addition too. These were always so much fun and kept us amused (and quiet) for the majority of the journey.

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Add To A Favourite Collection

If your child already has an activity or toy set that love, why not buy something to add to it. A new train, pony, matchbox car, superhero, monster truck, or princess that your child can use with a collection that they already love will be a sure hit.

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Vouchers For An Experience

This would have to be a favourite of mine. Gift vouchers for activities that you can experience together are a fantastic addition to the kiddo’s Easter basket. You can purchase the vouchers directly from the store or make cute little vouchers your computer that the kids can cash in to you. Some great ideas may include vouchers for the zoo or animal parks, aquarium, flip out, indoor play centre, amusement parks, putt putt golf, cinema tickets, a manicure, waterpark….the list is endless.

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So what do I put in my own kiddo’s Easter Baskets?

Of course there is one large chocolate egg. I take notice of what they “ohh and ahhh” over when they spot the chocolate eggs in the shop. I think the Humpty Dumpty eggs will be the winning choice this year. We also do an egg hunt on Easter morning. In the past we have colour coded the plastic eggs (with small chocolate eggs inside) and each child collected their own stock pile. This works very well if you have multiple children. We did things a little differently last year and pooled all the eggs from the hunt together. The kids were excited to eat one or two each night after finishing their dinner. In terms of chocolate, that’s all they get from us.

As Easter falls in Autumn, we experience a major change in the weather by the time the fluffy guy with floppy ears arrives. I always choose a pair of winter pyjamas with dressing gowns or slippers to keep the kiddos warm on the colder nights. I also like to include a special book for them to add to their own collections on their shelves. This can be anything you think your child may enjoy or you can choose an Easter themed book. We add something fun to pop in with those practical items wich changed year to year. In the past I have included bath crayons, toothbrush, novelty bunny ears, craft items and hair clips. Last year it was finger paint and Easter stickers.

We don’t generally decorate our home for Easter, but I do plan little Easter themed crafts for the kids which we do display. As I mentioned above we also do Easter themed baking that we will take to family when we visit.

You may chose to share the religious Story Of Easter with your children. You can do this by reading bible verses and adding religious storybooks or activities to their Easter baskets. Although my husband and I are not religious and don’t attend church, our families do. Our Son attends a scripture class once a week at school and has been learning about the story of Easter and we will incorporate that into our celebrations at home this year.

I hope I have given you a few ideas on what you can add to your kiddo’s Easter baskets. Finding consumable gifts and reducing the sugar highs is always a good thing. By giving intentional gifts this Easter, your children will be able to enjoy these items long after the chocolate is gone.

However you choose to celebrate, I wish you all a safe and Happy Easter weekend with friends and family.

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8 simple tips to keep your home organised forever

I am always looking for ways to not only get organised, but strategies to help me stay organised. I have introduced many routines and schedules over the years that really help me stay on top of everything. Today I wanted to share these with you.

Here are my 8 simple tips for keeping your home organised forever.

Declutter

Get rid of all the clutter. I find that the reason many people struggle to keep their house organised is because they have too much stuff. Before I started taking back control of my home I would hold on to things “just in case” or because I had spent money on it and didn’t want to just throw it away. The fact of the matter is you are not using it and that money has already been spent.

You have two options here. Firstly you can put the item up for sale.  If you’re trying to sell an item give yourself deadline. If that item hasn’t sold in 1 week it goes! Secondly you can just donate it. It is so easy to pop a bag in the boot of your car and swing past a donation bin. I also keep a box in my garage so that if I find something that I know I don’t use or want, I have somewhere (not inside my house) to put it. Once the box it full, it in the car it goes and off to the donation drop off. Once you start to see results from having less clutter, it really becomes addictive.

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Routines

Set up routines to help keep your home organised. I have shared my routines a little while back and you can check that out in more detail here. I have a morning routine and an evening routine that I stick to every day. Doing these few simple tasks helps keep the house in order and mess to a minimum. Things you may like to include in your routine may include:

Morning Routine

  • Empty dishwasher
  • Do one load of washing and hang out
  • Make the beds
  • Open the house
  • Cleaning task

Evening Routine

  • Load dishwasher
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Tidy bathroom hang towels and mats
  • Pick up all toys
  • Straighten up lounge room
  • Pack anything for the following day

It wont take long for these things to become second nature and you will be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Preparing for the next day

This is such a game changer for making your mornings smooth sailing and especially helpful if you have children. Make lunches and pack school bags the night before. Gather anything you will need for the next day so its ready to go. This includes laying out clothing, shoes and socks so there isn’t a mad rush in the morning. You will never be searching for missing shoes while running out the door again.

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Cleaning Schedule

Make yourself a cleaning schedule. I have a weekly, monthly and yearly cleaning checklist. Every day of the week I choose a cleaning task (or two) to complete, then on the weekend I schedule time to do something off my monthly list. Doing one or two things each day makes it easier to stay on top everything. Alternatively you can choose one day a week to go full pelt and complete all of your weekly cleaning chores. Find what works for you and stick to it. Force yourself to do these tasks now and it will eventually become automatic. I use the fantastic printable from An Organised Home. You can download this printable for your cleaning schedule here and its absolutely free!

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Lists – Weekly and Daily

I can’t function without my lists. Every Sunday I make a list of things I have to do or would like to accomplish that week. Each day I try and knock something off that list. I like to put these weekly goals in my notebook which is either left open on my kitchen bench or goes with me when I leave the house. You may like to write these on your fridge where you see them multiple times a day or find somewhere you can easily view it. This will help keep you on task.

Every night I write my to do list for the following day. This will include errands I need to run, meetings, doctors appointments, extra tasks I need to complete, my cleaning task and phone calls I need to make. I find that writing my to do list the night before not only helps clear my mind before bed but it saves time the next morning. Your list is ready to go as soon as you wake up and you can start getting things done much quicker.

Schedule time to organise

It is so important to schedule in time to organise your home. Having everything organised not only makes tidying up easier, it also makes cleaning a breeze. Make sure that all toys are sorted and have a “home”. Find a specific spot for everything you own and. If you do not have enough space for all of your dvd’s then purge some of them. If your cupboard is overflowing with coffee mugs put some in your donation box.  By setting out 15 – 20 minutes each day to clean and organise a drawer or a shelf, you would truly be amazed how much you can accomplish and what a difference it will make. That adds up to almost 2.5 hours a week. Click the link below to find this weekly printable.

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Set up organising systems

Find your clutter zones and set up systems to keep them under control. Grab a pen and paper and begin writing down the messiest areas of your home and why they are so disorganised. The next step is to think of ways you could better organise the space.

If your living room is constantly covered in toys then find a spot to put them. Every toy in our house has a home but like all children, my kiddos are constantly pulling toys out into the living areas. To solve this problem we bought a storage ottoman that we use to throw toys in at the end of each day. Once its full, the kids have to take all their own toys back to their rooms and put them away. This works so well, as they can bring toys out and play with them for a few days, but every night I can toss the way out of sight.

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Do you have mountains of mail and paper everywhere? Set up a paper system to stop overwhelming paper clutter in it’s tracks. Mine is just a simple desk file with folders for each category listed below.

  • To Action
  • To Pay
  • File
  • Shred
  • Keepsakes

 

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Get into the habbit of opening your mail at the desk file then sort and file it immediately. Add a bin close by to toss junk mail and garbage in as soon as you see it. Keep on top of this by going through ever week or so it doesn’t begin over flowing.

Too many shoes, clothes, dvd’s, books or craft supplies? Tackle each of these areas one at a time by purging, finding a space for what is left and then creating systems to maintain order.

Labels, labels, labels.

Once you have organised a space you need to label everything. Not only will you know where everything belongs, but it will make it easier for everyone else in your home to put things away or find something as well. Adding tags and labels with pictures to your children’s toy storage, closet and drawers will help them identify where things belong if they are unable to read.

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I hope that you find these tips helpful. I have completely taken control of my home using these 8 steps and let me tell you its the greatest feeling ever. We spend so much times in our homes so why not take the time to organise it and enjoy the space you have.

 

 

Simplifying My Life In 2017

It’s hard to believe that January is over and we are well into February already. How does the time go by so quickly? I find that this is the time of year when we all begin to settle back into our regular routines and start getting a bit of normality back to our lives. If you are reading this, then I’m guessing that you are interested in the idea of simplifying your life. The mere thought of this is extremely overwhelming when you feel like you are living in chaos. This is pretty much how I am feeling at the moment.

I love my husband to death but when he is on holidays I get absolutely NOTHING accomplished. Please tell me I’m not alone on this one?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love having all of that extra family time together. Day trips to the beach and extra activities with the kids have been wonderful and of course the little ones love having their Daddy home so much over the break.  In saying that, I’ll admit that I find it very hard to keep everything in order when the four of us are home together all day everyday for a month straight. Routines get thrown out the window, there are way too many late nights and every day is like the weekend. And if I am to be 100% honest with you I get quite lazy myself – if everyone else is on holidays why can’t I join them?

February is also the time of year that I really start to act on my goals for the year. I know I’m a little late in regards to this topic – I realise that the new year began over 6 weeks ago.

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The holiday season is absolutely insane around here. My Husband and I went on our Honeymoon at the end of November and also celebrated his birthday. Then of course there is Christmas, our Sons birthday, New Year Eve celebrations. Add to that “Party Season” as all of Master B’s little friends birthdays fall in December and January as well as my birthday! To say it’s been impossible to start anything new during this time is a massive understatement.

But now is the time! Hubby is back at work and Master 5 has just started kindergarten. My aim is to simplify our routine so that we can enjoy our day to day activities. I’m also trying to create  a new routine with just Miss 2 and myself at home. I know this will be a major adjustment not just for me, but her as well. She misses her big brother so much.

I don’t know what it is about the beginning of a new year. It’s a fresh start and a whole world of possibilities. As you all know, I love having a decluttered and organised home. While it has taken me many years to get to where I am at this point, I am far from finished I really want to take it further.

This year I chose one word, call it my theme for the year. LESS. I have always aimed to use less, have less, spend less, waste less. In the past I have tried when I remember to, but this year I’m determined to take it to the next level. I’m really excited to share with you my goals for the year.

It’s time to start simplifying my life

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I have officially begun my journey to minimalist living.

Now let me just say that I will never be a “true minimalist”. We will not be selling all of our furniture and electronics. We will not be swapping our couches for bean bags or our beds for a mattress on the floor and we certainly will not be replacing toilet paper for washable cloths.

Yes, I have recently learned that this is actually “thing”. #omg

I have been learning lot about minimalism over the last few months. My time has been spent reading many articles and I have been listening to a lot of podcasts on the topic. I have joined quite few facebook groups where everyday people share their progress, as they begin living with less, simplifying their lives and living with purpose. Let me tell you, the benefits seem to be life changing for some people. I want to be one of those people!!!

There are many interpretations of what minimalism actually is. To me, it’s only keeping things that you need, use and love. Everything else is not needed. I love the idea of living a much simpler life, getting rid of the unnesacery and only having what we need. I truly believe that happiness is not measured by the amount of possessions you own and more importantly I want to teach my kids the same thing. This is incredibly difficult to do these days any way.

During my year of culling I will not be stopping at household items. Minimising waste of food and money by meal planning and budgeting is high on my list of things to improve. As well as cutting costs anywhere I can in the everyday running of my home.

It may come as no surprise that having less stuff makes keeping your house clean, tidy and under control a much easier task. Having too much stuff causes stress and creates so much more work when it comes to running the household. I’m going to tackle it all. Every inch of my home is going to get the minimalist touch and I will be sharing my progress on my facebook page as well as monthly updates here on the blog.

I am so excited about this change we are making and I can’t wait to see how it impacts other areas of our lives.

The Year Of The House

The second goal I wanted to share with you are the projects we have planned for our home. It is really going hand in hand with our minimalist goals. My husband and I have renamed 2017! Yes, you read that correctly, 2017 is now known in our family as the year of the house. Our plan is to do as many updates and improvements to our home as possible. This will include DIY projects and organising projects. If you have seen my Back To School Series part 1 and part 2,  work has well and truly begun.

We have been in our house for eight and a half years now. We have painted a little here and there and made a few changes along the way but we have a long way to go. With our kiddo’s aged 2 and 5 it has been extremely hard to find the time to knock all of these projects off the to do list, as I’m sure many of you out there can relate to.

Truth be told, over last year I have realised that we are very quickly outgrowing our home. Before we bought our house, my husband and I had been renting a tiny two bedroom unit. So when we moved into our 3 bedroom house it felt huge, like seriously huge. Add to that another dog, two kiddos and all the extra stuff that those little people need and we are close to bursting at the seems. This is another reason we will greatly benefit from a more minimalistic life.

Moving will not be an option for us any time soon, so for the time being it’s about making the most of the house that we have. I had so many plans for our home when we first moved in and somewhere along the way it has all been pushed aside. So decluttering and setting up systems to make the most efficient use of the space is at the top of the to do list.

I think of all those years we totally wasted the space in our entry way. It was always a mess because there wasn’t enough storage and with our entry project not only has it completely transformed the way it looks, but it has totally changed the way we use that space.

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On Our To-Do List
  • Laundry update – better storage
  • Declutter while simplifying storage in kids rooms
  • Closet organisation in all bedrooms
  • Finish painting inside
  • Front patio update
  • Garage declutter
  • Garage organization
  • Purging every room
  • Photo Organisation

I’m sure there a million other areas that will need some kind or re-organisation and I’m sure they will be added to our never ending list.

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So this is the starting point. I’m ready for a more simplified life. I’m so excited to get started on ridding our home and lives of all the unnecessary stuff that has no purpose and only having things in our home that we truly need, use or want.

So here’s to a tidier, cleaner and less cluttered 2017!

 

 

 

 

An Organised Home – School Work Organisation – Part 3

 

Congratulations! You have made it to the final installment of my Back To School Series. I have absolutely loved teaming up with Nikki and sharing this series with you all. There have been so many ideas and organisational systems to help organise your family and school clutter this last few weeks. I hope you have found it all very helpful while preparing for the new school year. Today I am joined by Nikki from An Organised Home for the final time as she shares part 3 – organising school work. Its been such a pleasure having Nikki guest post and share her ideas and systems this month. So I will now hand over to Nikki, enjoy guys!


Well here it is. My last instalment of the Back To School Series. And it is all about how I organise school work.

This little system of ours has been working famously for about 3 years now, and I would love to show you what we have done.

It has been so much fun sharing how both Hailey and I organise everything school related, but all good things must come to an end, so enjoy this last instalment on for our Back to School Series.

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Earlier Hailey took a look back at what we have covered so far in terms of school organisation. If you missed any of these posts click the links below to jump back and take a peek.

Organise It All – Back To School Part 1

Back To School Part 1 – An Organised Home

Organise It All – Back to School Part 2

Back to School Part 2 – An Organised Home

Organise It All – Back to School Part 3

Today I will be showing you how I organise and keep track of my son’s school work. This has been working for us for about 3 years now, and we are continuing on with this again in 2017.

Since starting high school, Zac has been bringing home a little less of the artwork that was very prevalent in primary school, and he now brings home a lot more notes. Handouts from class, notes written in class, and a bit of homework also.

Keeping track of this work was a priority for me. Zac is not the most motivated child when it comes to organisation. If it was up to him, his English notes would end up with Science, the History notes would be nowhere to be found, and he would never, ever have homework. Of course.

So we needed a system that was easy to access. If it wasn’t easy to access, he wouldn’t use it. It needed to be simple to use. Again, the harder to use the less it gets used. And fast. Lets face it, teenage boys have far more important things to do than keep track of their school and homework.

So we came up with a simple system using a suspension file box, and suspension files.

It was really quick and easy to set up, and of course, there was plenty of room to expand as the year went on and more and more notes came home. It also sat perfectly on my washing machine so accessibility wasn’t an issue either.

How I created this system

We started with a file box like this one.

File Storage Box - Store'N'Oder Crate

I had a bit of trouble finding where you could buy one of these now. But luckily located it at Australia Post which you can find here. Originally I started with a file storage box that I borrowed from my dad, which had a lid. I loved the idea of everything being hidden away and looking nice and tidy, however Zac was stacking everything on top of the lid rather than putting it away. So it had to go.

I then added a suspension file for each subject. There is also one for his diary and timetables, which as it turns out, the school is still using this year after all.

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I loved the J. Burrows coloured suspension files from Officeworks, which you can find here.

And lastly we pulled out our trusty labeller and added the name tags for each subject, as well as a name label on each of his folders.

Note:

This year our old labeller died! Although we haven’t re-labelled the tabs for his file box, we used this new one that we purchased to label everything else. It is fantastic. And while it was a little more expensive than the regular one we had, it was well worth the money. It does two lined labels, lots of different fonts, frames and so much more. I know that this labeller is going to be doing a lot of work this year. You can find this here.

Brother-P-Touch-Labeller

So this is what we ended up with.

School File Box

Every afternoon when Zac comes home from school, he removes all items from his school bag. His lunchbox and drink bottle go to the kitchen. Dirty sport clothes go in the laundry basket. And all schoolwork is put on the table. From there, we determine if he has any homework. This is usually written in his diary, but I always ask as well, just in case he forgot to write it in. It happens!

If he does have homework, we leave those notebooks out until the homework is completed. The rest of his notes are sorted into the suspension files that correspond with that subject. Any loose notes or worksheets are dropped straight in the file folder too. At the end of each week, I ask Zac to go through and tidy his notes. Loose pages are stuck into books, notes that were completed on his computer can stay there, however I do like to see that he is completing his work.

And that is pretty much it. Simple, effective and easy to use.

The best part.

For me, the best part about this system, is at the end of the year, when I am sorting through his notes deciding what to keep and what to toss, everything is already grouped in its subject.

School Work Toss

The pile at the back is what is going from 2016, and the small pile in front, is what I am keeping. I have to be happy with that.

Now, I have to confess here, I am not up to date with sorting all of Zac’s schoolwork for every year. In fact, I have only sorted the notes from the past 3 years, since using this system. The rest are in a plastic box, labelled with the year, the teacher and the class, and put away in my buffet and hutch. I can honestly say it was only this year that I was able to be so ruthless, in what I kept. I literally threw everything out apart from certificates, reports, and one or two of his assessment tasks that he had created a product for that was really innovative. The rest was trashed.

In all seriousness, there is no way Zac is ever going to want 15 years of schoolwork. So by being ruthless, I was able to eliminate a world of angst and only keep the best of the best. And the goal is, to do the same with all of his previous years work.

I hope this helps when deciding how you might want to keep your child’s school work organised. It really has been a successful way for us to stay on top of it all.

Thanks again for joining Nikki and I on our Back to School journey, and stay tuned for lots more ways that I am Organising It All.

Pinterest Pin

Back To School Series – Part 3

Good morning guys and welcome to my third and final installment to the back to school series.

I can’t believe how fast this month has gone! In just 3 short days I will be sending Master 5 off to his first day at Kindergarten. We are well and truly organized and my little man is totally excited…… me on the other hand…I’m extremely anxious. Deep breaths Hailey, deep breaths.

Before we jump into part 3 of the series, lets take a look back at what we have covered so far in terms of school organisation.

Back To School Part 1

  • Command Centre
  • Family Schedule
  • Cleaning Schedules
  • Routines
  • Calendars
  • Filing System

Back to School Part 2

  • School Uniforms
  • Shoes
  • Schoolbags
  • Lunchboxes
  • School Papers

Today I will be showing you how I organise and keep track of my kids school work. I have been using this system for about 2 years now since my son began pre school.

At the moment my children’s “school work” is any artwork that they bring home. I will continue using this system the same way as they progress through their school years and when they begin bringing home special school assignments and important exams in the future.

My system is very basic and right from the beginning I decided that I needed it to help me limit what I hold onto. You have to be very particular in what you keep or you will be drowning in school papers for the next 13 years. Once that file is full you need to either stop keeping artwork or take something else out in order too keep a new piece. That is the rule.

Supplies used in this project include

  • File box
  • Suspension files
  • Manilla folders
  • Free printables (you can find the links below)

 

I got my file box from kmart a few years back for around $15 but I found this from Officeworks which is very similar.

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I started with the pre school files, labeling them with the year that my son attended day care. Having worked in child care for 8 years before having my kiddo’s, I know how much artwork they can come home with. Funnily enough my son was never a big fan of doing craft once he started pre school – he was far too busy running around and playing outside to stop long enough for craft. So most of his art work was from when I used to do it with him as an infant. I am hoping I get a little more craft work from my daughter.

I then continued to label the remaining files kindergarten, year 1, year 2 and so on, all the way to year 12. (Yikes that is a scary thought…. my baby ….. in year 12)

The files come with little clear clip on label holders and white labels. Of course you can just write on them with a marker but I wanted to make mine pretty so I created my own labels.

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I printed them on a white cardstock then I cut them out and slid them into the clips.

Inside each of the suspension files I have placed one manila folder to hold the school work.

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For the front I created a fun little printable to fill out each year. It’s a place to record your child’s teachers name, their class, what they want to be when they grow up. My little guy  told me he wants to be a skateboarder #adorable. There is also a place for a school portrait for that particular year. It is such a cute little keepsake to look back at in years to come.

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And look how organised it is!

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When the kids come home from school, I search through their school bags and gather papers. Any notes are filled out, important dates are added to the calendars and artwork is put into the keepsakes section on my desk file in the kitchen.

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No name - in file

Once a week or when the file is full, all of the keepsakes are moved to their school file boxes that are stored in our garage.

I store these in the garage for an obvious reason – the boxes are big. I only have one hall closet in our house that serves many purposes. It houses craft supplies, beach towels, gift wrapping items, my household file, warranties and manuals binder and my printer. I honestly couldn’t fit another thing in that closet if I tried.

I love this system because once it is done, that’s it. It is a sealed box so everything inside is protected. It is so simple to just slide school work inside as needed. There are no folders, hole punches or plastic sleeves to worry about.

Having each year contained to one folder really makes you think about what pieces are truly important to you. Lets face it, your kids are not going to want box after box after box of every single piece of art and craft they have ever created, handed down to them when they head off to Uni. I know that for me personally, I keep the little works or art because they are special to me or represent something significant.

The hand and footprints remind me of how little they were at certain stages of their lives. The pictures remind me of how hard he worked to draw that ninja turtle or the page of writing reminds me of how long he sat in full concentration to write his entire name.  Those are the pieces I will keep. Just because you don’t keep every single piece of work, doesn’t mean you love them any less.

 

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I wanted one system that will last the next 13 years. Even with the extra pre school files in there, look how much space there is left!  This is a system that never needs to be updated. That was the goal and that is what I’ve created. Simple, easy, storage.

I hope that this inspires you to set up a school work system for you children and to make the process a little easier I am giving you my file labels and cover pages absolutely free!!

So head over to my shop and download them today.

Download your file labels here.

Download your school year cover pages here.

 

 

 

 

An Organised Home – Back To School Organisation – Part 2

 

Hi everyone you may have noticed that it has been extremely quiet around here the last few days. It has been crazy busy around here this week. My little man had his 5th birthday party followed by two other birthday parties the following two days. I can’t remember the last time I was this exhausted. But as party season draws to a close and we are less than two weeks away from the school term starting, we are very much looking forward to some serious down time.

Today I am joined by Nikki from An Organised Home for Part 2 of our Back To School Series. So without further ado I will hand over to Nikki, as she shares how she organises school clutter in her home.


Well, as my holiday is drawing to a close, my thoughts are slowly moving back to reality, and while I am glad that I have put quite a few things in place for the coming year, there is still lots to be done as far as school organisation goes.

Having a high school student definitely has its benefits. He is old enough to unpack his school bag, he knows where his school notes go, and if I can get him to put down his phone long enough, he gets through what little homework he has in a reasonable amount of time.

However, teenagers tend to have to be told 5 times before they do anything!!!

You know how it goes. You have probably seen that meme on Facebook…

The one that goes a little something like this…

Mum: "Could you please pick up your stuff?" 

Child: No response. 

Mum: "Could you please pick up your stuff?" 

Child : No response. 

Mum: "Could you please pick up your stuff?" 

Child: No response. 

Mum: Yelling "Would you turn off the damn TV, get up off your butt and put your stuff away!!!" 

Child: "Geez, why are you so angry?" 

Well, welcome to being a parent of a teenager.

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Image Credit

While the teenage breed is pretty self sufficient, they conveniently lack a certain ability to “remember” to do those things required of them. At least that is what happens in my home.

In this second instalment of school organisation I will delve a little further into how we keep the school clutter organised in a way that makes it convenient to access, as well as out of the school bag and put away.

We live in a small two-story town house. The two bedrooms and bathrooms are upstairs, and the lounge, kitchen and dining rooms are downstairs. We don’t have a laundry, we have a cupboard in the dining room. Yes, you read that right. A cupboard in the dining room.

So as far as storage space goes, we are extremely limited.

It would be pointless for Zac to store his school items in his room, as it would mean dragging things up and down the stairs, which would undoubtedly lead to lost and misplaced items. Add to that the fact that I want him doing his homework at the dining room table, so that I can monitor how much homework is actually being done, and you can understand why the laundry became our designated “school” area. And of course, me being me, I can’t stand things to be left out, so they do need to go away for me to keep my sanity. Or what is left of it.

Basically there are four areas that need to be addressed.

  • Uniforms
  • Lunch Boxes
  • School Papers
  • Shoes and School Bag
Uniforms

With no laundry, and only one dirty clothes basket in the entire house, I need to wash quite regularly. To take a little step sideways, my laundry routine is pretty much wash when there is enough to do that load, with the exception of sheets, bath mats and towels. My towels and bath mats are done every Monday, and sheets get done on Fridays. Other than those items, I just keep an eye on the basket and I can see when there is enough to put on a black load or a coloured load. And to make things easier on myself, I hang all shirts on hangers, and any pants with a pleat down the front by the pant cuffs already folded along the pleats. It does make ironing a breeze.

Now, getting back to uniforms, as Zac goes to a private school, their uniform policy is quite strict. Summer uniform consists of long navy pants and a white shirt that has the school logo on it, and a blazer if it is a bit cooler. Winter uniform is the long navy pants, long sleeved white shirt, school tie, woolen jumper and blazer. The jumper cannot be worn without the blazer, and the children are not to arrive or leave the school in anything other than that uniform. Including their sports uniform, even if sport is the first or last class of the day.

There have been instances where children receive detention for not adhering to these policies, which personally, I really like. The policies that is, not the detention. And with such a strong emphasis on presentation, I do iron all of Zac’s uniforms. I just feel that it is more respectful of the schools policies and of course, I do love that crisp line in the sleeves of the shirts and the legs of the pants. I know, crazy right?

Having said that, I am not afraid to tell you that there have been times that he has gone to school with an un-ironed shirt and pants that still have peg marks on them! Alas, life goes on.

So uniforms are obviously in his wardrobe, and as I am pretty organised with the washing schedule, 99% of the time his uniforms are there ready to go. Zac has enough shirts and pants that, even if I did no washing during the week, as long as it was all completed on the weekend, he would be fine. No further organisation is necessary. When it comes to his sports uniform though, I keep that in a seperate satchel ready to put in his school bag on sports day. Every time his sport uniform is worn, it is washed and folded and put back in the bag in the laundry where the rest of his school stuff goes. There is no point in keeping that in his room, as he never changes into it to go to school, and if it was upstairs, it would mean it was either forgotten or Zac is looking for it at the last minute. I will go more into his school items in the laundry next week.

Lunch Boxes

When it comes to lunch boxes, we are pretty easy. My husband has had the same lunch box for 30 years. Yep, 30 years. They just don’t make them like they used to! Zac and I take which ever lunch box suits what we are taking for lunch.

My biggest problem with lunch boxes is what to put in them. Zac will not take a sandwich for lunch, as it isn’t “fresh” by lunch time. I have tried freezing them, putting ice bricks in with them, and it doesn’t make a difference. Usually he will take a cold meat such as corned silverside, roast pork, roast lamb, chicken, even sweet and sour chicken or a beef stir fry with rice or salad.

For the past couple of years I have been using a lunch box that has a freezable lid which keeps his lunch cold, right up until his break. However, the lid broke a while back and I had a lot of trouble finding these.

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I finally found them here, but browsing the website I came across another lunch box that I really liked also.

This neat expandable lunch box, has a centre tray that can be frozen. When I looked at this, I actually liked it better than the previous one, as I think with food on top and below the frozen tray, his lunch will stay cooler still. The lunchbox is called an Ez-Freeze Expandable Salad Kit, and has an expandable bowl, freezable tray and a dressing container. Check it out here.

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And lastly, from Howard’s Storage World, I found this thermos. Since going on our cruise, Zac has started to try a lot of different foods, and I figured that this would be a great option for soups, pastas, spaghetti bolognaise or casseroles. You can find this thermos here.

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School Papers

High school students really don’t need a lot of help when it comes to storing schoolwork and papers. However when it comes to permission slips or photo forms etc, my son needs to have as little as possible to do with those. This is why I actually keep his schoolwork and anything he needs in the laundry, easily accessible to him, but anything that I need to deal with comes straight to my little command centre file.

I spoke in a bit more detail about this last week, so I won’t elaborate to much more, but depending on the type of note, I take one of three actions;

  1. I complete the form immediately and put it straight back into his school bag to be returned the next day. These are forms such as updated medical information or a note required for his panadol.
  2. I diarise the date of any upcoming events. For example, at the beginning of each new year, there is always a breakfast meeting to go over what to expect for the year. I also do this for excursions, however I usually complete the permission slip immediately and then keep a copy in my school file so that I have all the details needed.
  3. If it is a reference type document like a canteen menu, I will just file it in the school folder. No further action is required.

I also have a really great system that has worked so well for storing schoolwork, however I am going to go into more detail about that next week. We have been doing this for two years now, this will be our third, and it has been an absolute lifesaver. No more lost notes, or “I can’t find my English Assessment Task”.

Shoes and Schoolbag

This one is an easy one for us. Shoes are taken off at the front door. Not only does this mean that we know exactly where to find them the next day, but it also stops anything on the bottom of our shoes being traipsed through onto the carpet. Which in turn means less work for me.

The school bag is quite large, and while I would love to have an entry way like Hailey’s we just don’t have the space. In the dining room on either side of the buffet and hutch is a little space just big enough to hold a bag on either side. Zac keeps his at one end, and my husband keeps his at the other. This keeps the bags out of site (mostly) and out of the way. It is also right where it needs to be each evening when it is packed for the following day.

I hope that helps a little more when it comes to organising your kids for school. Be sure to check back next week, where I show you how I organise the school work itself. Until then, make the most of these last few days with your children before they embark on the next big step in their lives.

Nikki – An Organised Home

An Organised Home – Back to School Series Part 1

bts part 1

We are back again today with another instalment in my Back To School Series Part 1.

I’m so excited to have Nikki from An Organised Home guest posting today and sharing how she organises her family’s schedules and routines throughout the school year. If you aren’t familiar with An Organised Home, be sure to check out Nikki’s blog  and also click here to browse her facebook page.

So I will now hand you over to Nikki from An Organised Home.


Where on earth did 2016 go?

I swear it only feels like November still, yet here we are in mid way through January already. Right now, while I am writing this, I am off sailing around the South Pacific Islands enjoying a well earned holiday. But not before I have put a few things in place so that the back to school transition runs smoothly when we return.

This post is the first of a three part series that I was asked to participate in. I would like to thank Hailey from Organise It All for asking me to take part in her back to school series.

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Our systems and needs will be very different from each other, simply because of the differing ages of our children. But this in no way means that either of us will be less organised than the other.

A few simple steps taken in advance can really save all of the hassle of the last minute run around the day before school goes back.

Scheduling & Routines

The first part of this series is how we organise our family’s schedules and routines, and I must say for me, this is becoming a little easier to organise, but a lot more hectic to keep up with.

My son, Zac, is starting Year 10 this year. YEAR 10!!! It just doesn’t seem possible. He attends a school where his main course of study, outside of the core subjects, is in the field of Technical Production, Sound and Lighting. He is very fortunate to have already found himself a job at a well known and highly respected lighting company during the holidays, and is quite often required to work on school shows both at school and outside of school.

For us, this requires a high level of organisation and communication to ensure that he is able to be where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. Add to that already busy mix, a HSC course that he is starting a year early, and offsite at a TAFE Campus, and I am thinking that we are not going to have time to scratch ourselves this year.

Moving towards digital organisation.

Our household is very quickly becoming a digital household. Both Zac and I are very computer literate and both of us spend way too much time on computers. And whilst this is something that we need to work on, it is actually a blessing in disguise when it comes to organisation. For us, a digital calendar is a much better approach to our planning and scheduling. We always have it on us, (neither of us would ever be caught out without our phones!) and we can quickly add, edit or remove appointments, etc, on the run.

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I still use my calendars at home on my fridge, and mostly this is for a quick glance at upcoming commitments and for my husband who is not quite as digitally reliant as us. You can download my calendar here.

Digital Diary

The school is starting this year with a digital diary, that the parents can access so we can see any homework that has been set, upcoming assessment tasks or exams, and any other notes or changes that are being made. For example, Zac is quite often pulled out of his Tech class to do the set up for assemblies, shows, open days, etc, which of course all forms part of that class, but this is noted in the diary. If a teacher wants to let us know that he didn’t complete his homework, that is noted in the diary also. And Zac himself, sets up events for anything he has upcoming and sends me an invitation. That’s right… he sends me an invitation to drive him to a show an hour from home, wait around for four hours, then drive him home again. Very considerate, isn’t he?? LOL.

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So, with all of the calendars now covered, that leaves the rest of my scheduling to share.

On the Agenda Today

My to do list will remain the same. I really like using the “What’s on the Agenda Today” sheet that I designed, and possibly in the future I will digitise this. But right now the hard copy works for me. It has space for my to-do’s, things to do while I am out, things to pick up and more. You can download my printable here.

Cleaning Schedules

My cleaning schedules are also still working for me. Though right now, I must say I am absolutely loving having Ryan come to my stateroom and make beds, wash towels and run the vacuum through daily, however he is not too keen to come home with us to continue. I designed a very simple sheet that I laminate and keep handy.

Up the top are my daily tasks and down the bottom are weekly tasks. There are checkboxes for a week at a time in the daily section and a month at a time in the weekly section. Each Sunday after I have filled in the daily section I simply wipe it clean and start over on Monday. And likewise once I have finished using the weekly section.

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This eliminates the need to keep printing new sheets each week, and if you happen to miss a task one day / week, you know that is the first place to start the next day / week.

Command Centre

The last part of my scheduling and routines is my little Command Centre. It has been an absolute lifesaver when it comes to bills and paperwork.

I am not going to go into too much detail here, as I will be doing a post on this in the future. But I will give you a quick run through of how I use it.

This is a very simple desk organiser that I have folders in to keep track of all important documents.

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There are folders for:

  • To pay
  • To Do
  • To File
  • To Scan
  • To Shred
  • Reference

There is also one file for each family member and one for school, along with one for each of the bigger projects that are happening at that time. For example, there was one for the cruise, and one for my dance competitions.

As bills come in I diarise when they are due and set a reminder on my digital calendar. They are then put in the To Pay folder until that time comes. Once a bill has been paid it goes in either the To File, To Scan or To Shred folders. If it is important enough to scan, it is then filed in my Dropbox folder with password protection and the physical bill goes in the To Shred folder. I have very little now that I deem to be important enough to actually keep a hard copy. Only things like mortgage documents, immunization records, house deeds, etc have made it to the file box.

Things that need to be done, something like following up on a incorrect bill or paperwork to be completed, goes in my to do file. Again, once completed, it is either scanned, filed or shred.

The individual files we have is pretty much for paperwork that doesn’t necessarily require action but isn’t ready to go away. Or more realistically, paperwork I want off my desk that the husband and son have not finished with!!!

And lastly the school folder is for upcoming events, permission slips, canteen menus, etc. anything school related that isn’t schoolwork, that I have to deal with or diarise. I also include a copy of Zac’s assessments and exam notifications here so I can keep an eye on the due dates. He has a terrible habit of leaving everything until the night before!

Once a week I go through each of the folders and complete as much as I can. I scan, file and shred and get ready to start the new week with a clean slate.

So that is pretty much it. I have so much more to share with you, so make sure you check back next week for Part 2.

Nikki – An Organised Home

 

Back To School Series Part 2

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Well hello everyone and welcome back to part two of my back to school series. We are less than 3 weeks away from the first day of school. How on earth is this going so quickly? I mentioned last week that my eldest it starting kindergarten this year and in all honesty I’m crying on the inside – I’m told this passes, quite quickly. Although I’m extremely anxious about the whole thing, I know that Master B is more than ready for school and is totally excited about it too. So I’m keeping myself busy by getting us all organised for when the craziness begins.

Today I will be sharing with you all how I plan to keep all the school clutter organsed once my little one starts school in just a few short weeks. You know what I’m talking about, all those nessecary items that your kiddo’s need – but totally cause chaos within the home. The school bags, shoes, hats, coats, uniforms, lunch boxes and school papers.

I have been working on an update in our entry to accommodate all these extra items as well as setting up a few systems to keep the clutter at bay.

School Uniforms

In order to teach my Son a little independence I have made “setting out uniform” part of his night time routine. I have placed this basket on the shelf in his bedroom where his entire uniform can be set out ready each night. The school uniform is easy wear polo shirts and there will be no ironing involved (#mumgoals) so I wont need it all on hangers. His school uniform will be neatly folded in the basket ready for the following morning.

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Lunch Boxes

Lunch boxes have been driving me absolutely batty for the last 12 months. My husband takes two separate lunch box / cooler bags to work and my Son has been using one for pre school as well. When they walk in the door they are brought into the kitchen to be emptied and cleaned and then they end up scattered all over the kitchen bench and then being picked up and moved around every time they get in the way. I have a very small Tupperware cupboard so they can’t be stored there so I decided that I would buy a basket to store them all in so I don’t have to look at them. Now they have a place to call home. The pretty basket has a spot on the kitchen bench tucked away in the corner and the lunchboxes will stop getting in my way once and for all.

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School Papers

I like the idea of keeping these school papers separate so I know I only have one place to look for permission slips, home readers and canteen order forms. When anything comes home from school it will go straight to my desk file. Any important dates are added to the calendars any permission slips are filled out and are put in the blue school pocket and any artwork is put into my keepsakes file.

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Shoes and Schoolbags

This would have to be my favourite part of my home organisation series. I have been thinking about how I can organise my entry to accommodate school clutter for about a year now- yes really, a full year. I will share the entire makeover process at a later date but this is what I have come up with that works with the space we had available.

In the past I had all of our shoes stored in a clear plastic tub under a hall table that we used to have and it always looked a mess. I recently purchased this shoe storage cabinet from Ikea that holds all of our shoes.  I love it because all of our shoes fit inside and all of the visual cutter is gone. The kid’s shoes are stored in the bottom as it is easier for them to access as well as stash their own at the end of each day.

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We have also recently installed board and batten in our entry that hold 6 double coat hooks. This will be the place to store school bags, hats, jumpers and jackets. These extra hooks will help keep things organised and off the floor.

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I feel like things are finally coming together and we are almost ready for school. By having all of these systems in place before the term begins, I am hoping that it will make the transition – for all of us – a little smoother.

Check back in next week for the last installment in the back to school series.

 

 

My 10 Favourite Bathroom Organisation Hacks

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I am always looking for clever ways to maximize space in the smaller rooms of my home. One thing most of us have in common is that the bathroom is one area that always seems to lack the space for sufficient storage and it has been something that I have wanted to address in my own home for quite some time.

Today I thought I would share with you today 10 of my favorite bathroom organisation hacks that I have stumbled across recently, some of which I plan to implement at home.

 

Mason Jar Storage

I love this simple idea using mason jars that you could totally DIY

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Nail Polish Rust Barrier

Let me tell you this is absolutely brilliant. I will definitely be using this hack

 

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Shower Rod

Installing an extra shower rod with S hooks is not only a fantastic space saver, but would also reduce that everyday clutter in the shower.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/organizing/tips/g2421/stylish-bathroom-organizing-ideas/?slide=8

 

 

Over Toilet Built In

This is especially brilliant for those of us with a separate, very small toilet. This would create enough storage for bathroom essentials and pretty décor.

http://www.the36thavenue.com/bathroom-storage-ideas/#_a5y_p=3615605

 

Hidden storage

For those with extra space in the wall cavity I think this is a brilliant way to disguise visual clutter while gaining extra storage

https://www.buzzfeed.com/morganshanahan/tiny-house-hacks-to-maximize-your-space?utm_term=.fex7JEkXg#.drq9vAq6G

 

Drawer Organisers

I use drawer organizers all over my house. It’s just a really easy way to keep like items separate and tidy.

http://organizeyourstuffnow.com/wordpress/31-days-15-minute-organizing-day-7-bathroom-drawers

 

Storage Ladder

I love the look of these ladders. Not only are they great for hanging towels but you can hang storage baskets from them and they look extremely chic.

http://www.cleanandscentsible.com/2015/03/diy-storage-ladder.html?amp;preview=true

 

Stacked Wire Baskets

Lacking space on your vanity? These stacking baskets are a great solution.

http://www.goldenboysandme.com/2014/09/wire-baskets.html#_a5y_p=2591084

 

Floating Shelves

This is something that I have wanted to do in our separate toilet room for quite some time. The deeper shelves would allow for bigger baskets you could store extra toilet rolls and other bathroom items.

http://www.mommysuite.com/diy-faux-floating-shelves/

 

Bath toy storage

I love this inexpensive bath toy storage solution. Would you believe me if I told you it was actually a garbage bin?

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80182237/?cid=us%7Caf%7Cpinterest.com%7C80182237_20140103