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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Filing aka. Hiding the Mess

This time of year always finds me filing. I love to be organized, although you wouldn't know it by looking at my kitchen counters on most days.

I like the newness of taking all of last years bills and financial statements, boxing them up and having them ready and waiting for tax day. More than that, I like to put all of our school documents back in order. It gives me time to look at our accomplishments and know that really, we have made progress - it is easier to see it in hindsight. It also gives me a chance to compare where we are to my original goals for the year and tweak things as needed.

This year I decided that we need more handwriting practice and fun games to help with my daughter's visual processing problems. Easy fix.

I have some serious organizational challenges though. I know, I know - join the club right?
  • First - We are home almost ALL of the time, pulling things out, using them, and simply doing life. I can tidy, but things won't stay that way for long.
  • Second - We need to do school from here, which means that we have many books and supplies that need to be accessed every day, but they are plain ugly to look at and need to be kept hidden away.
  • Third - We have a toddler in the house. Enough said.
In a perfect world, I would have empty floors, countertops and desks. I don't even really like most decorations. I'm not technically a minimalist because it is just too modern for me, but empty surfaces are my preference, even if they aren't my reality.

So, with 3 kids I am finding myself needing to find ways to organize myself and keep all of our supplies hidden at the same time. Here are a few of my favorite tools:

My kitchen - I know, the kitchen isn't a tool, it is a room, but in our house it functions as our school room on most days. We have a real school room upstairs, but it is just too far removed from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. My husband was thoughtful enough to add a few hidden spaces for our kids, which are almost as fun as his MacGyver Cabinet. A chalkboard is under a decorative cabinet door (on the non-functional end of my counter) and a magnet board is under another. These will be something we outgrow eventually, but for now they keep "treasures" handy but out of sight.

I keep my calendar inside an upper cabinet door, and a clipboard holding my grocery list and other to-do items inside another, so we can simply close the door on lots of our mess. In addition, I decided to sacrifice some cabinet space to my schooling sanity. Canned goods and any specialty dishes were all moved to the basement. In their place I keep the kids books (math, phonics) and the manuals that I will need every day. Our audiobooks and CD player are hidden in a lower cabinet, right beside my laminator and paper cutter. Neat and easy access.

Ottomans - Yeah, I know these aren't technically filing tools either, but they are great for hiding messes and they function as extra seating at the same time. I have 3 and they are all full of our supplies. One contains our binders and books, another has math manipulatives, and the third contains files for our upcoming units with lap-book elements, project supplies and any printouts that I need, all organized theme. In fact, one of these ottomans is right by our front door and I've never had a single person peek inside. (Okay now that I posted that I know some of you are dying to open up all of the ottomans in my house - go for it. Why not.)

Binders - Workbook pages (you know, the dreaded math and language arts) are all pulled out of their bindings, 3 hole punched, and put into a binder. I hand the kids the top page, and when they return it I put it immediately in the back of the book. In January I cull the excess and then at the end of the school year I have them help me choose their best work and we toss all but a few samples. I try really hard to not allow myself to have a "to be filed" category anywhere. It either has a home at the end of the day, or I toss it. Period.

So it isn't unusual to find me in a pile of papers, binders, and files during the month of January, attempting to make my life a bit more organized, but this ... well this is ridiculous:

I swear I didn't stage this photo. The dog just jumped in all by herself, spun in a circle and looked as if she was ready to settle in for a long nap. I don't know why. She is a strange little thing - cute but strange. Seriously, why would I file the dog with our homeschool materials?

Everyone knows that dogs go in the personal files!


Ed Andrade said...

LOVE the pictures of the dog!

Robert said...

I would have thought you would put her in the "dog pile".

Doris said...

I learned how to "hide my mess" very early in my married life. However, you actually know where you put the mess (including the dog). Kudos to you and your good organizational skills. :)