Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School: Inspiration for Organization!

With Back to School just around the corner, I’ve been inspired to get organized. To get REALLY organized. My “big boy” will be starting first grade in a few weeks, my little lady will be starting preschool, and God only knows what’s in store for the triplets this fall. As my work schedule grows ever more challenging and our home life grows busier by the day, I find I am increasingly driven to control the controllables.

The past few weeks in the Lyons Den have been like nesting on steroids. I think it all began when one of my friends got one of those nifty label makers. It was barely out of the box before I was on the doorstep asking (possibly begging) to borrow it and admiring her handiwork as evidenced by a drawer full of neatly labeled spices and kitchen staples. With the coveted label-maker in hand, I spent several nights staying up until 1AM organizing our basement full of hand-me-downs… 2T Fall/Winter, 2T Outerwear, 2T Spring/Summer, 3T Fall/Winter… you get the picture. And, I must say, it is now a very nice, neat looking picture in an otherwise cluttered basement!

With the hand-me-downs under control and a clear sense of what the kids need for fall (not much!), the next item on the agenda was Project Paper Control. I hadn’t realized that my piles of paper (in the kitchen, in the dining room, on my desk, etc.) were a problem until one evening, while watching a Yankee game rerun (which is another problem altogether!), Liam called me in to watch an infomercial for something I think was called a “FileMe.” He excitedly yelled, “Look Mom, you gotta watch this! This is JUST what you need so you can find what you’re looking for!” Really? He’d picked up on this? The fact that I can often be spotted shuffling around, muttering to myself “where is the form for soccer sign up?” or “did they really send a school calendar?!” or “Dammit! How did I miss Silly Hat day again?!” At only five years old, the kid had keenly identified the kink in my otherwise well-organized chain. Paper.

Paper! It enters our home in droves – it arrives in the mail, sneaks in backpacks, springs forth from our printer and I swear, on occasion has even sailed through the window disguised as an airplane. What to do with it all?! Clearly, my neatly stacked piles scattered throughout the house weren’t working – as my charming five year old so astutely pointed out. Since I didn’t catch the end of the FileMe ad (it was rudely interrupted by a BiteMe episode courtesy of the triplets), I was quite pleased to be the lucky recipient of some new filing products from Smead : a Stadium File Folder and set of Super Tab Folders. With these items (and that label maker which I have yet to return!) in hand, I gleefully tackled Project Paper Control – and did so with great success, if I do say so myself!

In the kitchen corner that used to house an overflowing basket of last year’s birthday cards, Candyland directions, Exersaucer warrantees, recipes torn from magazines, an outdated sanitation calendar and a handful of Snake tattoos (not mine!), there is now a neat looking filing system that I think would meet with even Liam’s approval – for he, as the oldest “Cub” in our “Den” has the most to benefit from a well-organized Mom. He now stands a fighting chance of actually getting his soccer uniform, not going to school on Columbus Day and arriving at Sunday School on the right day… which, oddly enough, isn’t Sunday!

With my new Smead file system in place, there is finally a home for the many papers that periodically pile up. There’s a file for bills (Pay Me), 401K statements (File Me), Harvest Festival announcements (Remember Me) and that 20% off Hannah Anderson coupon (Redeem Me!). Additionally, Liam and Ciara have files for school and, as with any good system, there is room to grow. Should this be the fall that Kevin, Declan and Cormac actually sign up for story time at the library or take a toddler music class, there will be a place for their paperwork – and it won’t be in a pile on the dining room table.

Thank you to the kind folks at Smead for providing me with these superb samples... and, a $20 Target gift card that I'll likely use to buy more! With my new system in place, we’re all looking forward to a successful school year – especially since I now have a fighting chance to remember Silly Hat Day, Pajama Day, Friendship Salad Day or whatever else they come up with to send some paper home and keep busy moms on their toes!

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