Help! I've fallen under a mountain of papers and I can't get up..

southernfrenchieOctober 12, 2010

Hey guys, here's hoping for some good advice. Okay, my twins started kindergarten this year which means all 5 of my children are in school. It seems like each child brings home a small truckload of papers every week. Also, my three youngest have assignments that are ongoing throughout each week (ie, projects, spelling lists, sight words). I want to implement a system so I can store these things where I can see them. Right now I only have two options. I can put some decorative wall files above my current work area, which consists of a computer desk on a 4 ft stretch of wall in my breakfast room. The desk has room for my monitor, printer and a small basket for my bills. I already have a bulletin board above my desk, but I am out of room. My other option is that we have a long hallway off the kitchen where we are in process of building lockers for the kids. I don't want to put anything in the lockers themselves, but was wondering if I could do something tasteful along the wall across the way:

view from laundry

view from kitchen

My one concern here is that every morning there are 5 people putting on backpacks and shoes in this space, so whatever I do can't stick out from the wall in an obtrusive way. I am open to any and all suggestions!

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I like the layout of that hallway. Looks like you've installed areas for each child for hanging coats and backpacks, plus cubbies for their boots and shoes. I don't have an ideas how to keep up with the paperwork. Pewrhaps display only one item per child , and rotate their hung-up items regularly, like once a week. Or take photos. I am embarassed to say I stuffed all my older daughter's artwork in a big art portfolio when she was in first grade. I still have that portfolio under my dresser in my bedroom. She's 22.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 2:33PM
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Would a cork board with push pins or a magnetic board work? You could have one for each child with their spelling words, permission slips, reminders, etc. all on view. It probably wouldn't be too pretty, but it is so hard to keep all of the school papers visible and accessible!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 8:33AM
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oasisowner - that's definitely a thought. I can find decorative cork boards / magnetic boards. I think it's knowing how to set that up has me stumped. Also, I was originally wanting to use that wall as a photo gallery... wonder if there's anyway to do both. I still haven't ruled out the space above my desk either.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 12:37PM
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How about a combination of corkboards and whiteboards ... one for each child, labeled with that child's name.

Pin the continuing assignments and paperwork that has to go back to the corkboard, write the week's schedule for the child onto the whiteboard.

The advantage of having it by the lockers is that the backpacks will go there, so they can unload and load without having to go any further into the house. You know if the papers hit the living room they are goners.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 1:41PM
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Lazygardens you are too funny! I am thinking wall files may work better than corkboards, that way there are no thumb tacks involved : ). But you are right - if those papers make it into the living room - it won't be pretty!!!

Here are a few ideas:

What do ya'll think?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 2:32PM
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Wall files! Yes!

For each child, give them an in-box, an in-progress file, and an outbox for things that have to go back to school.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 6:31PM
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I think the top picture is the prettiest basket. The middle one looks smart, it would allow for more unusual-sized projects, not just papers...

The ones in the last photo look quite functional. But I do lean towards the pretty ones. :)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 6:33PM
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I agree with kiki22, the first picture is definitely my favorite :)

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 5:09AM
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i would definitely go with the bottom thought is why go with something pretty when it won't look pretty when shoved with papers??

we had a pb file wall stack that worked pretty well, except we didn't have a spacious mudroom like you do, so i had it tucked in a corner and it got forgotten 1/2 the time. i think the wall file pieces you have shown would be very practical because they have nice wide tops so you can look and get your hands in them.

would you get one for each of your kids?? that would be organizational heaven!!! you could hang your kid's photo above theirs(or on it) help incorporate family photos...

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 6:24AM
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I also love the file in the top picture, and would probably choose that one if I do something above my desk in the breakfast room, since I have more wrought iron pieces in my kitchen.

Here is my desk area in all its glory:

I've had that bulletin board 25 yrs. Now that I think about it. Anyway, I was thinking if I did something in there, I could put up a taller bulletin board with a black frame, and move it towards the right. I could put a double wall file above my desk to keep those projects/ sight word envelopes...etc. We tend to do HW at the breakfast room table, so in that respect it would be very handy

The other two wall files would probably go better in the mud area. The wire mesh one mimics a gym locker and would go well with the school motif. It is 4 inches from front to back though, and I am concerned it may be too obtrusive in that hallway. The white one matches the woodwork in the mud area, and does keep things more hidden.

I do like that idea of hanging photos for each child above their own wall file - but I'd be concerned with cluttering up the hallway too much.

Another potential wall file for above the desk:

My MIL also told me to take a look at Homegoods for decorative/organizational stuff. I'll be headed there tomorrow : )

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:21PM
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My thought is a large display case of some sort, modified with corkboard. I'm thinking of something shallow, maybe 3 or 4 inches deep, kinda like a big trophy case or shadow box with a corkboard back and doors on the front. You said it's a high traffic area and stuff on the wall could easily get brushed against and knocked off. But with this display center, everything will be behind doors, easily accessible but not frequently bumped off the wall.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 11:54AM
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You've got two categories: the stuff being brought home for keeps, and the stuff that is homework, that has to circulate back.

For the first, you have to consider whether to keep. The teacher gets through the day, and the kids often (not always) learn by doing things with paper, and once the projects have served both those functions, those papers will have served the purpose they are in the world for and can go.

There are precious little artworks or journal pages in there that really express your children and that you may want to keep, but most can go. Problem is, I could never really distinguish when I was in the thick of it coming home - I had to wait a few years, or at least to year end. Your best friend, in my opinion: plastic boxes. Just pry open the lid, slip in this week's batch, close and forget for now. The boxes don't have to live in the hallway - the kids could put their stack of paper in their cubbies, or in those wall files, and it could be transferred once a week to their box - in the basement or something. The inevitable homework that accidentally gets mixed in with the keeping stuff can be easily retrieved.

The wrought iron wall files will look like he(( stuffed, but maybe if you empty them once a week you'll enjoy them nonetheless.

Jannie: gotta love it - mine's 19, and I am sure I have stuff of similar vintage.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 11:47PM
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After talking with DH we decided that I need a better desk area. Since we can't afford one until the spring, the best fix for now is to do something small scale over my desk. We nixed hanging a bunch of wall files in the mud area since in just a few years the kids will be managing their ongoing assignments themselves. I don't want to invest a lot of $ on an elaborate system that will only be needed for a relatively short time period. It looks like the hallway in the mud area will become a gallery of family photos after all. So for now, I've decided to go with the wall file in the top picture and mount it above my desk. I'm also going to get a new corkboard with a black frame and hang it vertically. I may put some cute/inspirational sign over top. If I like the wall file, I may get another one and hang it on the wall to the left of the desk. I'm also considering some decorative file folders to keep everything neat and tidy in the wall files themselves.

I'll post an update with photos!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:06AM
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I have a whiteboard that's like a sheet of thin white plastic that sticks to walls/doors like a post it note. It's Post It brand - I put a link below.

I have it stuck to my back door at eye level. I am very forgetful and we're all rushed/stressed in the morning, despite getting up 90 minutes before we have to leave. Every night before bed, I write all the things my kids & I have to remember the next day on the whiteboard.

It's in our face as we open the back door and has saved us more times than I can count.

I thought you might want to consider this for your back door, to remind you about permission slips and projects due.

Right now mine says: Tuesday: Chase Orthodontist 9:00, Mom pick up Rx, David Swimming 5:30. I try to keep the notes simple and erase them every day. They're not a to-do list, just reminders.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Post It whiteboard sheet

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:23PM
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Melissa Houser

What about putting some kind of small binder clip in each locker at "kid height". That would give you a place to put each kid's permission slips and signed papers to go back to school without your having to sort from your desk every morning. It also puts the spelling list at kid's eye level so that they are repeatedly seeing it all week and, hopefully, getting extra chances to absorb the correct spelling or definitions.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:57PM
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Two habits I learned at work, I worked in a federal government office which had literally TONS of papers. First, you need an "in" and "out" box. In contains paper, mail, bills, etc that you have not yet finished with. Out is to file or put away-like your auto insurance policy, etc. And my second tip-use a "tickler" system, whether it's one month or six or twelve. File paid bills month by month and at the end of your designated time period, throw away the old papers. Some papers, such as copies of tax returns, should be filed elsewhere, of course, so they don't get thrown out by accident. But there's no point in keeping a paid utility bill more than a couple of months.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 10:33AM
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